Friday, December 16, 2016

Mostly, it's about culture

It isn’t all about economics. Mostly, it’s about culture.

Since the late 1960’s the part of the population that used to be the majority and became the “silent majority,” what used to be the majority of the population, has been largely ignored, particularly by the media, and by academia. Much of the influential media frequently refers to “studies” and “research” by academics, as if academics are the arbiters of social truth. During the recent election campaign we saw that polls (i.e., surveys) can be dreadfully wrong; why should we think that the social data purveyed by academic social researchers?—?which, after all, comes from surveys?—?is any more reflective of the truth.

Assimilation used to be the way immigrants entered the “melting pot,” “E Pluribus Unum” and all that. No longer. Now each immigrant group is permitted — nay, encouraged — to exhibit its own “identity,” as if their identity is something other than American (or United States-ian).

Similarly, the LGBTQ+A identity group that is now out of the closet, has overturned the majoritarian tradition. Those that prefer to hue to the traditional western culture are similarly ignored, if not actively denigrated. The Supreme Court, in one swell foop, overturned a couple thousand years of tradition by allowing “same-sex” marriage, even to the extent that the free-association guarantees of the First Amendment are set aside: people who prefer not to serve gay couples seeking to marry are forced to deny their preferred associations. It has less to do with religion than with culture.

The culture epitomized by Michelle Obama’s garden really pisses people off. They don’t like the government telling them what they have to eat, what shoes they must wear to run the required 10 miles per week.

Donald Trump is the culmination of a “movement” that began when George Wallace referred to “pointy-headed college professors” in the 1960’s. It was underground for many years, like magma, waiting for a thin spot in the crust to break through as a volcano. They’re tired of professors and professional liberals telling them that they don’t know their own self-interest. Liberals are fond of cherishing the American people, universal suffrage, one man (person?) one vote and all that; everyone, left and right, spouts “the American people” as if they know what “the American people” is or are.

For the most part, “the American People” want the government to leave them alone. Yeah, they’ll take government benefits when they’re handed out — who wouldn’t? But they don’t like the strings that are attached to them. They generally don’t need a “leader” except in times of crisis. Trouble is, the media are always telling them of one crisis after another. All causes have a constituency, and each defines itself as a response to crisis. So we need a leader, right? Americans, in their own communities, aren’t in crisis. They can generally handle life their own selves. Leaders in peacetime tend to create wars. Only if wars arrive unprovoked will the people look to a leader. Otherwise, keep quiet.

These cultural waves are now (late 2016) washing over almost all of the western, so-called liberal democracies. Ordinary people are wary of leaders telling them what is good for them; they’ll figure that out for themselves, thank you very much. Demagogues come and go, and they’re not all Fascists. Trump may indeed be a narcissistic demagogue, but one could make the case that the Obama/Clinton clique exhibited its own flavor of demagoguery.

In short, the Trump phenomenon seems to be a reflection of the desire on the part of many to simply shake the earth beneath the Washington establishment that has no real notion what goes on between the Poconos and the Sierras. Those who voted for Trump don’t really care about Trump’s inflated ego or his inflated promises. They just want the coastal, governmental establishment to shake in its boots, to recognize their cultural roots, and to leave them alone.

Take heart you liberals. History appears to be in your favor. The middle of the country is gradually emptying out. More and more youngsters are being educated by those leftist professors, and finding jobs along the coasts, in the big cities. Actuarially, the left will ultimately overcome the sporadic outbreaks of reaction and a new tradition will take root. In the nature of pendula, however, this too will fade into history.