I went back again to the “Flight 93 Election” article the other day as I was writing another post, and re-read it. This quote stuck out, “They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental? Do they get to the heart of our problems?”
It stuck out because I don’t think that most folks have yet come to terms with the nature of the “change” that is about to be delivered. Oh sure, President Obama promised “change we can believe in”. After eight years of President Bush (who I worked for and who I like very much), the change was certainly welcome (even if I didn’t fall prey to that particular slogan). Body-bags, bombs on the evening news. Fallujah. Basra. Then the great recession. We forget just how devastated the US economy was – I myself lost 60% of my savings; but I’m young enough to wait out the mess. What about those who were retiring or retired? They ended up as greeters in Walmart. Yes, “change” was the order of the day.
But what did “change” look like? After the dust settled – change looked a lot like Europe; but not the beach cities of Andalusia or Paris inside the ring. The real Europe. Social welfare, social democracy, social justice, social this and social that and social the other. Subsistence living. Refugees streaming across borders – women afraid to go out at night.
Oh, but don’t call it socialism – that’s offensive. Progressivism pushing us “forward” into a weird straight-jacket of the mind that would tolerate no dissent. Of course never-you-mind that Europe doesn’t work anymore; that they are #Brexiting and #Frexiting and #Itexiting all over the place. That the internationalist amorality of the project doesn’t appeal to people who love the land and the lakes and the mountains; who love their wives and have sacrificed for their countries; whose parents and grandparents died in the great war or the war before that. And never mind that to smooth over the disquiet required unsustainable levels of debt; more than even France’s 110% “super-wealthy tax” was able to pay for. And that it all proved fleeting anyways as European “deplorables” are also rising up; while other pockets are wandering off to join the Islamic State. The ghettoization of a continent – with the Davos nobility flitting from bubble to bubble over the slums. That was where Obama’s America was headed.
Turns out change from one type of liberal internationalism to another type of liberal internationalism wasn’t really change after all – just replacing the crash-test-dummy in those commercials where the cars accelerate as they head toward the huge concrete slab. Turns out that the world order that was being defended since the end of the Second World War has frayed beyond repair. No longer does that world order not work for the Africans in the camps or the Arabs on the street (newsflash, for them it never did). It now doesn’t even work for people in Milwaukee or Detroit either.
At any rate that’s the contention of the “Flight 93 Election”; which most people still don’t get. Like I’ve said I read a lot. Journals like Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs. RealClearPolitics, Drudge, Huffpo, you name it. Certain segments of society are apoplectic; streaming Idiocracy or that Imagine Dragons song “Radioactive” over and over as they weep under their beds sucking their thumbs; liberal internationalism was working for them – and the gravy train is about to derail. “This is it, the apocalypse” the lyrics go. But that’s to be expected; the most interesting reactions are the in-the-weeds policy prescriptions coming from large groups of conservatives who haven’t yet quite understood the nature of our fundamental change. Foreign assistance reform, gerrymandering laws, lobbying laws, tax cuts for the rich or the poor or the middle class or the peg-legged – yawn.
But what’s going on this time is different – or at least so it would seem. A fundamental rethink of government and society; but not in the Al Gore Technocratic “reinventing government” boring sort of way. What’s coming is iconoclastic – a reshaping of the world order away from “liberal internationalism” which has been seen, at least by some, not to have worked. Or at least not to have been able to abide. Will the change be good for us? Will it save the republic? Newt Gingrich said the other day his biggest fear was that the President Elect would “lose his nerve”. Newt – at least – gets what’s going on and what’s at stake. Our Republic has indeed been dying. Those not locked in the echo chamber, that huge self-licking ice cream cone that keeps getting bigger the more you lick (better known as Washington DC) feel it. Can Lady Liberty right her course, as she has occasionally in such moments as these (Reagan comes to mind)? Or is it, in fact, too late, and Flight 93 will crash anyways?
Only time will tell.