Trump promises a triumphant, can-do United States that strides the world like a colossus, building grand new public works and bending other nations to its will with adroit negotiation — all while lowering taxes. It’s his version of 1950s America, without the unfortunate mess of World War II to wipe out the competition. And he makes it all sound so easy, like magic.If we apply the generational morphology of The Fourth Turning, we're at the time when the next "unfortunate mess" (last time around, first came the Great Depression, then the War) is in progress. When Strauss and Howe wrote, the country was in the middle of what they termed an "Unraveling," and by their logic, it is not possible to get from Unraveling to a new High without the Saecular Crisis. And the Gray Champions of Crisis, who will guide the public, will be aging Baby Boomers. (I wonder what Nathaniel Hawthorne would make of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as exemplars thereof.)
Because the saecular crisis is a time when tensions within the existing social order become too much for the structure and the structure breaks (generational morphologies have in common with Hegelian dialectic a thesis, an antithesis, contradictions, and a synthesis, but the turnings go on forever) it's not likely that the resolution of the saecular crisis will be a kinder, gentler version of the 1950s or a more civilized version of the 1960s. But the getting there, as George Lakey, no fan of Donald Trump, warns, is not necessarily to a better place. "Where do his working-class supporters go if they find that the electoral arena did not work for them and believe that elitist leftists scorn them? The militias await."
That's reinforced by Belmont Club's Richard Fernandez, who gets that in a secular crisis, the old rules don't apply, and the wise course is to expect the unexpected. "In retrospect the Tea Party, whose death the media announced repeatedly and often, may have signified the start of rebellion the pundits refused to take seriously. Now having failed to strangle it in the crib, the unrest will likely outlast November, 2016."
The militias await.
Today's developments out of Brussels will remind people that it's not phobic to check your boots for scorpions when you're camping in the desert.
Maybe I'm the optimist. "Perhaps, once Global Jihad or Climate Change or whatever the next Grand Secular Challenge will be is resolved, there will be a new consensus." But Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, a Trump skeptic still hopeful that the old order can hang on, might be anticipating further combustion of the social order to come.
[Conrad] Black actually believes that Mr. Trump can fix the corrupt U.S. government system. In fact, he wants to destroy it, along with what remains of the culture of consensus and compromise. He’s a wrecking ball. He believes experts are idiots and wears his ignorance with pride. He acts on instinct and impulse, makes up stuff as he goes along and scatters his lies like confetti. He’s written more books than he’s read. This does not hurt his ratings. It enhances them.The militias await.
Three years ago, I surveyed the failures of Hope and Change and hoped for a better outcome. "The harder intellectual work to be done might be in establishing that emergent order and distributed networks are far more effective at overcoming difficulties than a small committee of The Best and The Brightest can ever be, even if that committee sits around a Round Table in Camelot." Right Geek, no fan of Mr Trump, scornful of the gentry liberals (by their fruits!), proposes a libertarian vision for after the crisis is resolved.
Number one, we must radically expand educational choice, restoring the respectability of vocational education and adjusting what we offer in such programs to match what is actually available in our post-industrial job market. I'm not talking a Common Core here; I'm talking about listening to folks like Mike Rowe, who know where the solid, secure, decently paying work that doesn't require a college education can still be found. Number two, we must loosen regulatory barriers that inhibit both small business development and domestic energy development. Number three, we must be more discriminating when crafting our immigration policy.As is generally the case in a saecular crisis, there is a role for the government. Defense. Immigration. Funding Schools. Doing so in a less intrusive way, ah, that's the challenge.