1.11.15

RECLAIMING THE AMERICA THAT WORKED?

A Washington Post story suggests that, behind the Donald Trump phenomenon, there are more than a few voters who remember The America That Worked(TM).  Yes, I've been pointing out how all the social criticism aimed at the supposed excess conformity of the 1950s burdened all who came after with the fallout of bad ideas and symbolism over substance for a long time.  Good on the legacy press for recognizing that people see something lost.
Trump’s slogan is a tribute to a simpler time. “He could have said, ‘Make America what it was before’ and I would have voted for him,” said Jane Cimbal, 69, who lives in Winchester and signed up to collect signatures to get Trump on the Virginia ballot. “The last time we had good jobs and respect for the military and law enforcement was, oh, probably during Eisenhower.”
Unfortunately, there are no do-overs, thus no opportunity to leave racial and sexual minorities alone by limiting the powers of government to trammel free association, a development that might have made getting the military hamstrung in Southeast Asia more difficult.  But even among people with no living memory of The America That Worked(TM) we perceive a sense that the new dispensation is unsatisfactory.
The crowds at Trump events tend to be older and whiter than the national population, but so is the party whose nomination he seeks, and so are frequent voters generally. If younger supporters don’t have firsthand experience of the Eisenhower, Kennedy or Reagan years, they nonetheless share the older generation’s sense of loss.
Instructively, it's not so much the trashy, splintery popular culture that comes out of these vignettes.
That free-floating sense of decline expresses itself in many different ways among Trump supporters. Some speak of a fading sense of mobility, a loss of the expectation that each generation will surpass its parents’ standard of living. Others focus on the loss of blue-collar jobs and a sense that only those with computer backgrounds can take advantage of the new digital economy.
Technical progress we always have. Ask the next switchboard operator or elevator operator you see. Social orders, however, can emerge, perhaps out of the wreckage of the current trashy culture.

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