How Does It Feel?
My primary approach to writing is detachment.
I cannot attempt to see all sides without a clear head.
I can't analyze and think if emotions get in the way.
I can't express opinions without getting backlash from political correctness, identity politics and wokeness. I don't want to confuse the message by provoking knee-jerk responses, unless it is necessary.
I am determined to "tell it like it is" and let the chips fall where they may. The question in these divisive times is, how to most effectively get my message across?
God knows, I self-censor a lot. I try to choose my words carefully, while at the same time be willing to be blunt. While not being purposefully not-politically-correct or woke, I am neither politically correct nor woke.
Beth has told me that you might want to know how I feel as I predict and comment on the self-destruction of the United States.
I AM SO UPSET THAT IF I LET MYSELF GO, I WOULD SCREAM IN RAGE AND OUTRAGE - I MIGHT NOT EVER STOP SCREAMING.
I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE DESTROYING A PERFECTLY GOOD COUNTRY - NO, IN MANY WAYS A GREAT COUNTRY.
I am beside myself.
Both because of the stupidity, and because I am sad that our son will inherit this mess.
I don't want to say, as I have, that Biden has made a major error with the energy transition. I want to say that is the dumbest, most destructive, fucking approach I have seen, which will cause incredible harm.
I began his administration hoping that he could help put Trump's divisiveness behind us, that he could be the adult in the room.
I now think his incompetence knows no limits and the long-term destructiveness of his policies, including stimulus and confiscation of Russian currency reserves will be profound. I will have to give it further thought, but he may be surpassing LBJ as the most strategically destructive president in history. (Trump beats Lincoln as being the most divisive and has JQ Adams and Andrew Jackson beaten by a mile.)
But it is fundamentally important to get beyond the surface to underlying causes and first and second order derivatives and unintended consequences. Biden is behaving destructively. Why is that? He has an administration and advisors and a public to which he is accountable.
This is not about one man.
I realized decades ago that there is a tide in the affairs of men ...
Our culture had passed the point where it could recover. The snowball was already rolling down the hill. Emotions relentlessly trump reason.
I have made the Second Coming by Yeats my mantra for a reason.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
It's because of human nature. We want more and we want a free lunch. The endpoint of democracy comes from voting ourselves goodies. And the vast majority of humans are either not inclined to understand, or are not capable of understanding, complexity and nuance. They just want to be left alone to live their lives and raise their kids.
Without capable leadership, we are dominated by a seventh-grade view of the world. And we now live in an age dominated by adolescent emotions.
If you look at the decline of the Roman Empire over hundreds of years, it is the same kind of collapse we are experiencing, punctuated by the, generally accidental, rise of capable leaders. The decline was reversed for a while so long as the capable, and authoritarian, leaders remained in place and the barbarians were kept at bay. Then, it continued the seemingly inevitable decline.
As we are finding out, the supply of capable leaders is limited. The supply of barbarians is not.
We stood tall at the end of World War II and became the master of all we surveyed.
And then hubris took over.
We decided that we were entitled to more and better, and our children deserved more and better than we have - without having to pay for it.
JFK, IMO, was a mediocre president. But maybe, just maybe, if he had not been assassinated, then LBJ could not have implemented his guns and butter.
But then, again, Nixon expanded Medicare.
You see, we, the people, demanded guns and butter and an expanded Medicare, particularly since we did not have to pay for it.
We demanded our own destruction and are demanding it now. Build Back Better anyone?
There were no adults in the room of either party.
Our current crop of leaders is nothing short of a joke - caricatures and shadows of what leadership should be.
Give me a break. AOC? Margarie Taylor Greene?
But midgets that real people value and support and follow enthusiastically. We are actively enabling the joke.
We are getting what we ask for.
And, there is the rub.
Substance is not the thing we seek; reality is to be avoided at all cost.
To completely overstate and oversimplify, we are either seeking a past that cannot be re-created in terms of delusions of the far right or nostalgia of the middle class, or we are seeking a lifestyle and goodies we cannot afford and have not been able to afford for decades, or we are seeking the required, perfect pronoun for every occasion.
Dysfunction everywhere you turn as we actively destroy our foundations.
I am livid that we are destroying, say, George Washington. I am sorry he had slaves, but he lived in the 18th century, when that was normal - just as using leeches to help cure diseases was normal. But he was a great, world-historical man and our country is incredibly fortunate that we had him. The United States would arguably not have existed without him, including when he turned down the position of dictator / king.
We have no perspective; we do not understand human frailty; we do not appreciate how rare and wonderful genius is, almost no matter what package it comes in.
So, we are likely heading into chaos and authoritarianism.
Cultures rely on foundational axioms and myths for coherence. Deconstructing those axioms and myths is reasonable, but, if not done constructively, and if the axioms and myths are not replaced, destruction of the culture is inevitable.
And how do I feel?
What do I think?
Humans are deeply flawed and led by emotions and will inevitably end this way. It is almost deterministic.
I remind myself of Greece and Rome and the Maya and the Chinese and the Caliphate and understand that my emotions don't matter. It's the way the world works - it is what humans do - and has worked for millennia.
For Rome, it was bread and circuses; for us, it is Medicare and stimulus.
We need Marcus Aurelius or Diocletian very badly.
My patron saint is Cassandra or alternatively, Don Quixote. She could predict the future; he tilted at windmills.
But no one would believe her.
I have wrestled with the future and been generally correct, and it doesn't matter.
And, there we are.
And, here I am - an old man yelling at clouds.