Your father or your grandfather came of age in a country that had just either kicked or saved the sorry ass of every nation in the world.
Meanwhile, in our booming postwar economy—booming because we were selling all our stuff to a war-shattered world that couldn't compete very well—everybody with any motivation was getting an education on the G.I. Bill, and getting ahead in business, or getting the kind of union job where you could eventually afford a cottage in Wisconsin, and a boat.
That world lasted from about 1946 to about 1974. (If that seems longer than you'd thought, you should ride in my pal's 1973 Delta 88, which is 342-feet long, weighs as much as Chicago's Merchandise Mart, and gets eight miles to the gallon, only two of those statistics being slight exaggerations.)
So for almost 30 years, white Americans believed the world revolved around them.
Thirty years is a long time to think a thing like that. Long enough to start believing it's the natural order of things. Long enough to tell your kids it's the natural order of things, so that even though they grew up while it was fading, they believe it because you did.
And then it's gone, except for nostalgic vestiges—stray firecrackers on the fifth of July.
And then a guy comes along—even 40 years later—and tells you he's going to bring it back. "America First!"
People fall for a lot of bullshit in this country. They spend most of their money on lottery tickets, figurative and literal. As Jerry Seinfeld said in his wonderful acceptance speech at the Clio advertising awards a couple years ago, "We know the product is going to stink. Because we live in the world, and we know that everything stinks. We all believe, 'Hey maybe this one won't stink!' We are a hopeful species. Stupid, but hopeful. But we're happy in that moment between the commercial and the purchase."
And this guy is promising to give you your cottage and your boat back, and all you have to do is vote?
What have you got to lose?
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