Sunday, June 28, 2020

America Is Headed In the Wrong Direction, But Be Not Afraid

I am not normally prone to morosity, quite the opposite. The Kitten accuses me of irrational optimism, and she says that I tend to look back across the failures and setbacks of my 55 years through the lens of how each actually set me up for some future good turn. She isn't wrong. I imagine that were she not so very patient with me, I could tend to be annoying. 

I spent the first two hours of consciousness this morning with my tablet-app version of the Sunday New York Times, reviewing the news of our world. Fellow denizens of the political right may upbraid me for my choice of reading material, but there really is no equal to a deep dive into the Sunday Times for nice beginning of the week base-lining. Afterward, I spent some time on Twitter. 

The sum total of these two immersive experiences is that I sat down to write this blog tending toward morosity. There really is quite a bit of bad news. Our President retweeted this little gem this morning. Should he at some point delete the Tweet, a short summary follows. What we have is two minutes of video in which anti-Trump and pro-Trump demonstrators at a senior citizen village in Florida hurl insults and general upleasantries at each other. Included in these generic vocalizations is the ironic cry--from the driver of a golf-cart piloted by someone who presumably owns it in order to conserve his waning energy--of "White Power". Ordinarily, something of this nature would muddle around the cesspool of alt-right Twitter without great distribution, but the President of the United States chose not only to retweet it, but to praise his supporters there. I suppose the only good news I could take from the exchange was the possibility that folks in this demographic may be learning from their 2016 mistake

Moving on to the global pandemic (you like that segue?), it appears that the United States is leading the world in how poorly it has responded, with the President simply deciding there was no electoral profit in, you know, being President during a time of global pandemic. And so he has moved on to other pursuits as the nation slips into another phase of this disease, one in that APPEARS somewhat less fatal, but which is nevertheless clogging up ICU's with aplomb. We here on the farm aren't quite as locked down as we used to be, but we're not far from it. We practice social distancing (though the presence of Gen-Z daughters and their insatiable need for social interaction stresses this), we wear masks on any trip out of the house, and we continue to watch and wait. 

Don't get me wrong. I am absolutely onboard with those who said we could not stay in quarantine forever. Opening up in mid May made a lot of sense as a way of looking at how we might arrive at a more manageable approach to the pandemic without destroying our economy. But what has happened across broad swathes of the country--aided and abetted by the most irresponsible leadership imaginable from the White House--is absolute entitled recklessness. I'm not an epidemiologist, so forgive me if I am skating on your ice, but it occurs to me that IF WE ALL JUST WEAR OUR DAMN MASKS WHEN WE ARE AROUND PEOPLE OTHER THAN THOSE SHARING LODGING WITH US, THE VIRUS WOULD BE A GOOD BIT LESS VIRULENT and we could all carry on as homo economicus, in effect, walking and chewing gum at the same time. But no. Wearing a mask is an affront to Karen's Civil Rights (or Corey, in the case of her male counterpart), and led by our adolescent President, a common sense approach to public health has now become a loyalty oath to The Bad Orange Man.

As it is nearly July, thoughts turn to autumn, and football, and Saturday home games in Charlottesville. But you know what? I'm beginning to think all these mid May/mid June predictions of a return to normalcy on campus--may be JUST a tad bit premature. We'll see--clearly the demo in college is among the more resistant to the full damage of this virus--but six weeks from now, parents across the country are going to be making a very important risk decision in whether or not to swim out into what by then, could be a full-blown re-emergence (not that it ever de-emerged) of the virus.

I guess what I'm getting at here--and where when I sat down, I had believed would be the point of this piece--is that there is a lot to be morose about.  

But then I thought about an email exchange I had a few days ago with a friend in which I tried to cheer HIM up from a bit of crushing morosity. It goes like this. If we look back at the years from roughly 1972-1984, it plays out like a complete disaster. We lost our first war and high-tailed it out of there. The Arabs woke up and realized that they had us "over a barrel" (so to speak) when it came to our reliance on oil. A man who was already considered somewhat corrupt by many, resigned his presidency over corruption, and then was pardoned by his successor. We learned what "inflation" was. We elected the second most inept President in our history who then (quite rightly) told us we suffered from "malaise". Iranian thugs took 52 Americans from our Embassy and held them for 444 days. The Russians invaded Afghanistan. Our economy faced double-digit inflation, unemployment, and interest rates--all at the same time. The Japanese were cleaning our clock, and American cars came to suck like no other time since cars existed. 

And a fellow from California came along and told us our best days were ahead of us. And he was right. He led us for two terms with effectiveness, honor, and dignity. And then his Vice President led us for one term of honor and dignity. And then a fellow from Arkansas came along and led us for two terms with somewhat less dignity, but no less of a position of hope and effectiveness. American ingenuity and productivity--always there, returned.

My point is--we can, and will, get through all this. No, there is no land of rainbows and unicorns on the other side, but there is a time of more peace and civility, of love and honor, of respect and admiration, of health and stability. As dark as things seem now, it will one day be light again. I am certain of it. 


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

Thanks for this post Bryan - I share your long-term optimism for the possibilities the Founders gave us in a nation conceived in liberty and based upon a bed-rock belief in human dignity. Many twists and turns in our nation's journey since 1776 and no shortage of times we drove the car right into the ditch while arguing about whose hands should be on the steering wheel, but there's something in our DNA, all of our DNA, that gives us the ability to get ourselves back on the road again. Thanks, John Harvey (aka Incurable Optimist)

Conservative Wahoo said...

Good to hear from you, Admiral.

I hope you are well.

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