It has been quite an adventure, the last six years or so in America.
Early on, something awful was the condition of the down-and-out in the white working class, suffering deaths of despair, adding up eventually to 150,000 a year. The cause seemed to be a sense of lesser lives brought to an end by drugs, alcohol and suicides. But understand that some upper class intelligentsia and a load of academics had been having their afflictions as well, such as abandoning a belief in truth, thinking all cultures are equal, telling us that Western civilization with its capitalism is nothing special and actually evil, for starters.
You could see the tragedies coming, but who expected Donald Trump would be president, the former host of a TV reality show, an ignorant, low-life narcissist who nevertheless connected with the working class who got it that not a few elitists saw them as pretty much morally worthless? Other supporters said Trump was unfit but at least he was not his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, an ideologically disabled candidate embracing dishonesty for the sake of cash and political gain.
Trump won the election but not the hearts of Democrats and bureaucrats who were quickly devising illegitimate means of disposing of him. What we got was the Russian collusion fiesta with Robert Mueller acting as host and all the attendees absolutely thrilled until even Mueller had to say, oops, no evidence. It added up to an unspeakable scandal of disbanding rule of law and disrupting governance to be followed up by like-minded hijinks making you quiver about the durability of our precious system.
Next came the Democratic presidential primaries in which touches of centrism were flooded by socialistically inspired ideas of spending money that was nowhere to be found to solve problems by making them worse. Joe Biden seemed tamer than most and won, although his gaffes grew to the point of wondering about unmentionables.
As president, Trump has been nothing short of horrific on some fronts along with a surprising number of good moves. But here came the coronavirus, and yes, he at least gave us Dr. Anthony Fauci as a superb guide. The lockdown, a use of government power unlike anything ever seen in America, has likely saved lives, but 40 million people are unemployed, vast numbers of businesses are never going to recover and a quick if very careful reopening of America is crucial. We could otherwise be looking at years of widespread destitution and maybe more deaths than the virus could render.
Keeping an eye on all of this have been news outlets, absolutely crucial to our democracy, and the weirdness has been a resurrection of the partisan press with cable TV as the standout. But don’t forget the symbolic New York Times, in some ways still outstanding even though it has converted its front page to yet another opinion page. On its designated opinion pages, where diversity of views should be appreciated, we recently saw the resignation of an opinion editor who ran an op-ed piece that some reporters disliked.
The paper also won a Pulitzer Prize for a project that contended slavery built America and is still informing who we are as a people even though top-notch historians say the writing is full of factual and conceptual errors. That apparently does not bother some public schools that plan to use the material even as they struggle to teach reading and math.
Lately we have had the horror of white evil dressed up as a policeman maliciously killing a black man. Part of the response was multi-racial peaceful protests along with an awakened nationwide concern about racism only to be met by resistance from within: unresolved shooting deaths of black people during the riots, black businesses destroyed and public officials reluctant to stand in the way of much of anything. Police reforms are needed, but not to the extent that public safety disappears.
The issue is whether the best of America persists. It’s up to us.