Today, these States seem to be suffering yet another national pandemic: one of rage and paranoia.
Consider that since June 2020, that cesspool on the Potomac has enjoyed a trifecta of anger, fear, and paranoia on the part of the political class and their minions. Perhaps not unlike what happened back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Yet different and worse, in many ways.
June 2020: White House under siege – nights of arson and “peaceful protest” (current euphemism for rioting) surrounding the heart of the FedGov executive branch, so up goes the fencing and the barbed wire!
January 2021: Fearing the anger generated by the coup back in November 2020, Congress has the Capitol surrounded by security fencing and barbed wire, which is little protection against an angry crowd, which does little or nothing as far as arson, looting, or rioting. But this results in MORE fencing and barbed wire!
May 2022: After the leaked draft of the Nazgul decision to trash Roe v. Wade galvanizes both sides, fencing and barbed wire goes up around the Supreme Court building, just across the street from the Capitol.
Of course, these security measures are just the latest manifestation of the decay of civil society and the growth of rage and fear in the Fifty States in the last half-century. I have been, as a young man back in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, in all three of these places, walking back and forth freely to see these places. Places then treated with a certain amount of awe and respect as places in which history (good and bad) had been made. Even after the anti-war protests and riots, and the 1968 “Barbeque” (riots and arson after King’s killing in 1968), the District of Criminals was never locked down like it is today.
But today? All of the government officials in DC have come to believe that they must be protected, and therefore isolated, from the enraged partisans of both the so-called left and right. The street mob, or to use an old Roman term, the Street Senate. EVEN while the powers-that-be do more things to outrage the mob. Every part of the population is a source of fear for the politicians and bureaucrats and black-robed Nazgul.
And today, in our hyper-politicized culture, EVERYTHING is going to anger one faction or another: the wisdom or foolishness of the decision, the action, and the results does not matter. So they take to the streets, and the extremists on all sides resort, now and then, to violence.
Why is it different now? There are no doubt many reasons. Perhaps the greatest is that decades of growing distrust of government and those in power, together with more and more revelations of the perfidy of those people – and the realization that voting and politics as usual are worthless – have created a massively divided and angry population. Which in turn has resulting in a massive backlash by those people in power, fearing loss not just of their power and privileges, but their lives.
Of course, the POWER of government has also grown significantly in that half-century. Especially that based in DC. Creating more fear, and a certain hopelessness.
The media – both mainstream and alternative – can also take some of the “credit” as they whip up emotions and scream out for “something to be done.”
I know it is impolite (and politically incorrect) to blame the people themselves for this sort of thing. But theoretically in our system, the buck stops there. People have failed to accept the personal, moral responsibility for raising children, holding teachers and political figures responsible, and have tacitly accepted false “security” to replace liberty. They have lost – and taught more recent generations to ignore – their moral compass.
All of this points to a dismal future.
Unless we can start rebuilding and repairing society. How? By reducing the power of government, for one. But even before that, teaching people how they can live free and how they must accept responsibility for their actions and those to which they give authority. How? It is NOT by elections, it is NOT by protesting or riot or arson. It is a one-by-one education patiently encouraging people to learn how to live in peace – if not harmony – with each other.
We CAN fight pandemics – even social and mental ones. But it takes the right knowledge, the right tools, and above all, the right attitude. We can win against this one, also.