I grew up in a country that was decaying from an imagined great height where it got to divide the world in two with its hated next door neighbor.
The height was largely imagined for various reasons, but the quickest one to explain would be that Portugal never had a mercantile empire, a manufacturing base to back their “rule of the world.” There was no middle-class culture. So all the raw materials from the colonies, all the gold from South America, made a short stop in Portugal and then went on to enrich countries that did have a middle class culture, such as Britain and Holand.
In terms of a superpower Portugal was closer to Saudi Arabia with an army (or at least a navy) than to the United States. If people came to Portugal, unless they came to study navigation, they came to work for the foolish money and then to scuttle back home.
In other words, there is more resemblance between that mythical Portugal that “ruled the world” and the Portugal of sinecures, scrounging and status seeking in which I grew up than might be immediately apparent.
That is one of the amazing things about countries, even when they change a lot in ethnicity and way of living – there is an underlying personality and in the end it tends to be more or less the same. Perhaps the crazy ideas of language shaping the brain are true, or perhaps more is transmitted not just in genetic propensities, but in the assumptions of slang, the lore that gets embedded in proverbs and expressions. (Also the genetic replacement/flooding is always less than we tend to think, even in terms of say ancient Rome and how it changed. To utterly overwhelm a genetic heritage you need something on the order of what happened to the Native Americans when Europeans arrive. Massive numbers of incoming people, all at the same time, and at least some die off from new diseases.)
But the other thing that is absolutely true about a nation is that every man jack is convinced that his ancestors were so much better, and possessed of whatever virtues the country prizes. I about shot tea out of my nose when Robert Graves made fun of this in ancient Romans, how they talked about their ancestors who lived in caves and ate bread made of acorns. Even by the time I read The Decline and Fall – at 12? – I knew this type of talk from Portuguese and French and had read it from Englishmen.
To hear it in America is just the icing on the cake in so many ways. For one we can’t claim to be genetically overwhelmed. (Yes, the people-from-above are trying to CULTURALLY overwhelm us. But what they don’t get is that by preventing assimilation, they are also preventing their charges from becoming useful members of society. And yet, my bet would be as things get pinched and benes for being “diverse” dry up, their charges will either go home or become American.)
We are not a nation of genetics. We’re a nation of ideas. And we’re a nation of ideas so contagious that not only have they spread across the world (in mutant forms, I grant you, but the thing is what the ideas had to work with. In France they became a sort of enforced egalitarianism except for the aristocracy of the bien pensant, because France is always a republic looking for an Ancien-Regime, and in the rest of Europe they became various forms of paternalism/classism, because that is those nations’ original idea. BUT even then they don’t dare call them absolute monarchy or empire, or whatever, because we made that impossible) but infected the mother country. I was chortling over a book on Henry VIII that said that the ultimate revenge of Catherine of Aragon was that Prince Charles’ kids are descended from her maid of honor, Maria de Salinas. So her maid’s descendants will sit on the throne, but not Henry’s Descendants. I thought “Yeah, but the throne compared to what Henry held is nothing, and he would be shocked at how low its power has fallen.” And all because of us.
So imagine my shock when I found myself at Ace of Spades reading this thing about a Republican consultant (and if he worked on the last two campaigns, will you please get a grip on reality? I can tell you right now those were infiltrated from inside. No, stupidity cannot explain how badly they worked. Or the fact that my yelling my head off at people in Boston got the computer system working – but only for me.)
A lot of it threads the light pathetic, with him talking about how upset he was after the elections. Tell you what, he wasn’t alone. But if he’s such a big heap consultant, why was he so surprised? I was JUST a poll watcher, and halfway through the day I KNEW we were going to lose. I knew it because the number of people who apparently suffered amnesia and had forgotten they’d voted by mail – (about 1/3, though I heard that in Denver the percentages were reversed) – told me that the fix was in.
So explain to me how:
America’s best-known public-opinion guru hasn’t suddenly gone vegan. Luntz—the tubby, rumpled guy who runs the focus groups on Fox News after presidential debates, the political consultant and TV fixture whose word has been law in Republican circles since he helped write the 1994 Contract With America—has always been a hard man to please. But something is different now, he tells me. Something is wrong. Something in his psyche has broken, and he does not know if he can recover.
This is a man who makes his bread and butter – supposedly – from politics and elections, but he missed the vast, vast elephant of voter fraud in the room? Bah.
And then he talks about how he goes all over the country and talks to people and America has changed, and America no longer wants to be free, but wants free stuff. BAH.
Look, guys, the proof that he’s not all there, or at least is talking out both sides of his mouth is that he refers to Peggy the Moocher as representative of America now.
The entitlement he now hears from the focus groups he convenes amounts, in his view, to a permanent poisoning of the electorate—one that cannot be undone. “We have now created a sense of dependency and a sense of entitlement that is so great that you had, on the day that he was elected, women thinking that Obama was going to pay their mortgage payment, and that’s why they voted for him,” he says. “And that, to me, is the end of what made this country so great.”
If he really believes this, what he needs is a lengthy session of psychotherapy. What made Peggy The Moocher famous was NOT that she was representative of America, but that she was out there on her lone limb as much as the chick who thinks sex is against nature.
And why is Ace of Spades – one of my go to blogs – giving any credence to the ravings of this “consultant”? Because he says he’s run focus groups? Oh, please. Part of what makes the stupid party stupid is that they believe these outfits, which are mostly owned (like most of the chattering class) by the other side. Mr. Lunz might run the focus groups, but I bet he doesn’t pick the participants one on one.
And why is everyone in the comments falling in line with “it’s over”? Have all of you lost your minds?
I remember, yes, on election night, I lost heart for about ten minutes. But that is not permanent, and my reasoning reasserted itself. (I was talking two friends down from the ledge at the time, and that must be my excuse.)
Yea, yeah, yeah, we’re soft compared to our pioneer ancestors who lived in caves and ate acorns. PFUI. Would you please grow up?
Humans are humans are humans. The part of humanity that wants to have liberty and is willing to pay for it has always been a minority. The only reason this here country exists, in the thin ledge between liberty and tyranny is that that minority is much more industrious and much more willing to work towards it than the vast majority who want to be taken care of.
Listen, dunderheads, the people who fought for independence from the British were a TINY minority, much fewer than the probably 50% now who just want to be left alone to live and work. That is because this idea of being left alone and not taken care of was utterly revolutionary back then. It has since infected the world.
Our founders lit a great light upon a hill, and like any great light, it has attracted both imitators and moths.
The moths just want to be warmed (and a lot of them get burned and start hating everything America stands for.)
Even in winning, the compact that is the Constitution started being violated and piecemealed almost immediately after.
And yet, the other side can’t QUITE put it out, which is why they hate it. It infected their paternalistic monarchies, which they ultimately long for. And they can’t get us to forget this idea of being free and of an armed citizenry ensuring its own liberty.
This whole “is over” thing is just their way of trying to get you to put down arms and to accept that their stolen victories are true. (How can I talk of stolen victories? Well, for one we know of several where the votes just kept showing up in car trunks till the count was what they wanted. Do we believe that this wouldn’t happen in a presidential election too? WHY? For another, guys, sweeties, why do they fight voter ID so hard? No, it doesn’t make ANY sense. The infinitesimal danger of “voter suppression” is lost in the danger of your vote not counting because ten million illegal immigrants diluted it.) They want us to lie down and go to sleep and be like the Europeans.
And the doom sayers and ancestor-worshippers are ONLY helping this.
Not that it will work.
Look, I grew up in Europe. Forget Peggy the Moocher, okay? Peggy the Moocher in Europe would be considered a sane, if somewhat fringy member of the polity. This is because in Europe you BELONG to the country and the government exists to take care of you.
In America the very idea is repulsive. Yes, yes, some of the crazier democrats think we all belong to the government, but note even the wholly owned news services didn’t give this any play, because the average Joe would point and laugh as we do at Peggy the Moocher.
The European attitude is as incomprehensible to Americans as theirs is to us, and thank heavens.
Yes, pioneers could hunt, grow, be self sufficient. This might have encouraged a certain mentality. Weirdly, it’s not all that different from the mentality of the self-sufficient cyber entrepreneur who is getting tired of the government’s yoke. The challenges they faced were different, and yes, they lived much closer to the bone. Part of that “great light” is making us all more comfortable. But a lot of us in this prosperous future find ourselves driven close enough to the bone, partly through stupid tax policies that penalize entrepreneurs. And a lot of us are getting right tired of it.
Yes, us hard coreliberty lovers are a minority, but we are a minority that is armed, and dangerous, and by this I don’t mean physically. We are people who read, who talk, who work for what we want. And because liberty is as essential to us as the air we breathe, we fight with the despair of cornered beasts.
Is it enough? Are we enough?
I don’t know. Less than us was enough before. It did for the British, and it lit a great light of freedom.
Cry no more. Stop lamenting and put your shoulder to the wheel.
Our ancestors might have lived in caves and eaten acorns. We, thank the Lord, hope to be spared having to do that. The culture is what you make it. You’re part of it, not a passive observer.
Now stop lamenting and work.