When I was a little boy I would often go with my family to visit my great granddaddy. As a missionary kid growing up in the ‘foreign field’, it was always a special time – coming home to America. Between visiting churches on the east coast, we would stop in Altoona, Pennsylvania and pull into that little trailer park beside the 7-11 where my great grandpa lived with my great grandma. There were chores a plenty to do, my brother and I scrubbing down the trailer with a broom and a hose, then the cars (something that my nine-year-old self was less than enthusiastic about). When we were done we would go with my great-grandpa to empty the quarters from the laundry machines in the laundromat. After we were finished we would drive up to the horseshoe curve to watch the train pass – or head out into the countryside to look for deer.
Back at home, I would sit out on the little porch of the double-wide on some metal sliding chairs eating a bowl of ice cream while my granddaddy would smoke Marlboro reds and tell stories about when he was a union baker, or when he worked at the circus. The smell of cigarette smoke still takes me back to those days. He was from a different time, my granddaddy was. Not one for displays of emotion, for expression of feelings and Spartan with his words – he demonstrated his love through discipline. Not envious, he didn’t assume that life owed him anything; and he never once talked about inequality or complained about the wealthy. Politicians were to be avoided, as was Washington because it was ‘the swamp’. Instead he looked to family. 60 years caring for my great grandma. Raising children and helping with grandchildren. Powering through the tough times – the depression and the wars, head down and shoulder to the yoke.
I don’t know if he was a Democrat or a Republican, we rarely talked politics – because politicians were not the answer. As a Pennsylvania union man, a man of the New Deal and the war on poverty and LBJ – I suspect he was the former. But I also suspect that this year he would have voted for President Trump. He would not have understood the new America very well. The “you didn’t build that” America. The “votings the best revenge” America. The America that thought about ‘deplorables’ as, well as ‘deplorable’. An America where politics has become something we do to each other, not for each other. Power, not service.
He probably would have voted for President Trump because he would have naturally realized – like so many others did this time – what Publius Decius Mus eloquently observed; “Among the many things the ‘Right’ still doesn’t understand is that the Left has concluded that this particular show need no longer go on. They don’t think they need a foil anymore and would rather dispense with the whole bother of staging these phony contests in which each side ostensibly has a shot.” The show, the contest Decius is talking about is the discussion about values and morality and liberty in a free society. He would have known that Hillary Clinton’s America would have rolled over the America that he’d known – exterminating it for good. His was a generation of propriety and family and dignity and sacrifice; he’d never have understood a country where women dress themselves up as massive vaginas to walk the streets of the nation’s capital flaunting all decency and discretion – and morality.
There’s a word we don’t use much anymore, isn’t it? The progressive left doesn’t like it – because it requires judgement. And “the belief that anything is superior to anything else inevitably results in prejudice, interpersonal strife, and inequality.” In fact the only thing that our post-modern progressives can get behind is their assertion that “The rural, red-state voters, the denizens of the exurbs–are not real Americans. They are rubes, fools, and hate-mongers.”
That America certainly needed reigned in.
People sure are in a tizzy these days, aren’t they? Silliness all around. Re-balancing things is hard; and stomping out madness naturally stresses out the insane. But there’s one thing I do think; I think that my great granddaddy would be amused by the antics of the snowflakes. I think he’d watch the news, and he’d chuckle. He probably wouldn’t say anything – that wasn’t his style; but he’d probably be thinking what we’re all thinking. These odd new Americans with their strange ideas and perplexing behaviors are not really very strong – juxtaposed against the great struggles of feeding a family in depression; of fighting a war; of buying a house in a world where money wasn’t easy to come by; of going to your union job day after day even though it was boring and you were tired and often in pain; and of raising a family during times of limited opportunity. Occasionally he might even murmur the words “grow up”.
I miss my great granddaddy. More than that, America too misses his generation’s stoic wisdom. We sure need it to fall back upon in times of madness.