“When a man ain’t got no ideas of his own, he’d ought to be kind of o’ careful who he borrows ’em from.”
– one of my favorite quotes from The Virginian by Owen Wister
This post is going to be about American partisan politics and is a follow-on to yesterday’s blog post.
So, I’m going to start with yesterday’s post, which was about the “big picture” of the left’s culture war, of which climate change activism is now front and center. That culture war stormed into American headlines in the 1960s, with protests, from civil rights to women’s rights, to environmental concerns, and especially to anti-Vietnam activism.
A few years ago, I was reading a book, The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America, by Roger Kimball, which explains a cultural movement in the 1950s, called the Beat movement, as setting the stage for the 1960s radicalism. Kimball writes:
“The Beats were tremendously significant, but chiefly in the way that they provided a preview in the 1950s of the cultural, intellectual, and moral disasters that would fully flower in the late 1960s. The ideas of the Beats, their sensibility, contained in ovo all the characteristics we think of as defining the cultural revolution of the Sixties and Seventies.”
Kimball, Roger; Kimball, Roger. The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America (p. 46). Encounter Books. Kindle Edition.
Just to explain, why I often state what I see as “the big picture” or “the little picture,” it’s because that’s a common way of thinking I learned in the Army when I was young. Many businesses routinely talk about “big picture” strategy now, just as there are umpteen books and guides on using the ancient Chinese military strategy treatise, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, as a strategy guide for business. I find Sun Tzu fascinating, so I even read a “Sun Tzu for Women” book, that applied Sun Tzu war strategy into a women’s guide to “win” in business (I thought it was stupid, btw).
Beyond the strategy stuff, I think in history it’s important to try to understand events that led to the current events, rather than just reacting in outrage to every blaring headline or breaking news blip, which is the way too many people understand the world these days – based on their feelings and very superficial reactions. Trust me, I’ve got umpteen blog posts fuming about Trump’s awful behavior or Hillary’s vast corruption, etc., etc. In fact, too often I’ve written blog posts based on my being outraged by some current event rather than taking a few days to do more research, think about the matter more, and most of all step back and try to look at the “big picture,” so I’m guilty of this too.
When right-wing pundits and social media started breathlessly warning about “The Great Reset,” as if this was a brand-new nefarious plot, I started doing a bit of research, because it sounded just like what it is – more of the same far-left “never let a crisis go to waste” brainstorms from the Davos elite. The most interesting aspect of the Great Reset is that while the right-wing thought leaders in America were only reacting to some Democrats’ pandemic overreach and raising alarms about the impact from lockdowns and other pandemic mitigation efforts, the left-wing super-elites were plotting out a post-pandemic global plan to ram through their climate agenda, which had already been pushed through the UN in 2015, with their Agenda 2030 This is why I said the right usually wakes up in the bottom of the ninth, because it’s true.
We have the left hoping to incite enough fear about climate change/global warming to get people to go along with their big plans, “being woke,” and on the right now, they started bragging about “being awake.” The difference can’t be more startling, because the left has global networks pushing through their agenda, from the UN, countries around the world, wealthy elites, international corporations and that mega pit of murky money – all those NGOs funded by mega-wealthy elites, big corporations, governments and charitable organizations. The right has an assortment of hysteria-prone reactionaries and Trump sycophants, heavily invested in the constant news media/ Twitter politics Outrage Theater happenings.
Very few Americans even view Twitter politics, but almost all of the news media people, pundits, elected leaders, and political activists on both sides of the aisle invest an outsized amount of time daily, battling for control of the political spin cycles – on Twitter. I will say, Trump understood the importance of the Twitter spin battlefield and he was very good at what I think of as guerilla spin warfare – he could jump on Twitter, tweet out one, often poorly written tweet, and demolish a Dem spin narrative that major news journos, pundits and Dem operatives had spent a lot of time orchestrating, launching and then rapidly amplifying via retweets and spreading it to other social media platforms and TV news venues. Sometimes his antics were appalling, but I admit, sometimes they were hilarious.
And yes, I have been a staunch conservative my entire adult life and I jumped on more than my fair share of the right’s bandwagon of hysterical takes too. More of the thought leaders on the right should have been awake since the 1960s onward and certainly by the 1990s when the climate activism, gender activism and “fundamental transformation” activism moved into high-gear. And they’ve been completely oblivious to the orchestrated Dem/liberal media spin information war until the Trump era. If you weren’t alive in the 60s or 90s, well, rather than get invested in the latest primetime FOX episodes of Outrage Theater (yes, primetime cable news is all Outrage Theater, just different flavors), it might be better to calm down and read some history.
Roger Kimball’s book is a good explainer of the left’s culture war in America. A short and very condensed and probably oversimplified history of how that happened was many of the big activist thought leaders in America capitalized on their 60s and 70s protest success of forcing American colleges and universities to cave to their demands, then in the 80s many of the most radical activists became ensconced in American academia, politics, sitting on corporate boards, got influential media positions and thus the long march through the institutions was seeded, took root, and grew.
People on the right smugly talking about “being awake” now, 40-50 years after the left’s culture war movement has worked its way through every major institution, leaves me more than a tad concerned. All of the right’s reactionary ideas I’ve seen are short-sighted, lack any clear strategy and even more importantly they lack any clear objective. Lately, it’s all playing defense and running around getting worked up about the “Great Reset.”
Ten years ago, a lot of the right was all into the Tea Party (I was supportive), back to the Founding Fathers (always been there too) and invested in Glenn Beck’s schtick and big rallies (ever wonder where Trump got the big rally ideas…). I was a big Rush Limbaugh fan in the 90s too. It was all about getting people on the right worked up, feeding them a steady diet of wild, convoluted global & Obama conspiracy theories, hawking patriotism and waving American flags. Yet, nothing changed in Washington, even with a slew of Tea Party candidates being elected.
The “Great Reset” is just another push in the left’s much larger, ongoing culture war, which truly is at the bottom of the ninth. Their long march through the institutions is almost complete. Sounds pretty alarming and gloomy, but here again, the game’s not over yet.
Small, localized systems can adapt more quickly than cumbersome global systems. The same holds true for people dealing with shortages and other randomized problems. So, if there are problems in one state or area of a state, people closest to the problems may be able to find workable solutions to avoid chaos and create some streamlined, simple social safety nets and yes, working together and helping each other is the only way for America to unite and weather major crises.
Americans rely heavily on the complex big chain stores and big systems for our daily lives and to survive and thrive. We might have to start coming up with more flexible solutions to deal with shortages and other problems, if large systems flounder or fail. Being calm, being proactive, being problem-solvers, being resourceful and being more like our ancestors who built this great country, doesn’t take relying on Washington politicians, it will take all of us working within our own families, circle of friends and communities to pull together, as the daily partisan spin information war tries to feed division and pull us apart.
I’m reading a book, The Reshaping of Everyday Life: 1790-1840 (Everyday Life in America), by Jack Larkin, which is part of a 6-book series on Everyday Life in America in different time periods. Larkin explained the 1790-1840 span covered dramatic changes with the creation of a new national government, distinct political parties, and a culture of democratic politics, plus the population quadrupled. However, everyday life was mostly agricultural, physically grueling, very hard, very dark at night, as homes outside cities were spread out. An immense amount of labor went into “making land,” the arduous process of clearing forests to create farmland. Beyond the sparse living conditions, information was sparse too and traveled very slowly.
People stayed focused and committed to their daily struggles, their families, and most clung to their faith. Larkin wrote, “Successive waves of religious enthusiasm, the “Second Great Awakening,” washed over communities in every region and created a powerful evangelical Protestant piety.” Here’s a link on the Second Great Awakening. That religious change led to cultural change and a great deal of American social activism, from emancipation of women movements, more abolition efforts, temperance movements, etc.
The only answers anyone in Washington comes up with lately are either throw more money at problems or they turn to the US military, heck “call in the National Guard,” is a go-to solution and now using the Defense Authorization Act, seems to be the go-to presidential solution.
Perhaps, the answers won’t be found in Washington or in partisan politics.
Perhaps, we need to start finding more answers within ourselves.