Woody Allen once quipped that there are two sides to a person, one being the side that aspires to such nobler things as art, beauty and pondering the meaning of life, and then there’s the other side that has all the fun! It was an appeal to the latter that sealed victory for the Democrats, although with economic stagnancy on tap for the foreseeable future, the Democrats can hardly claim to offer anything fun.
For how low we have sunk culturally, consider that the administrations of FDR, JFK, Johnson and even Clinton at least aspired to bigger things: national greatness, establishing certain public service projects, landing a man on the moon, etc., and, in so doing, asked something of each of us.
Now, “Ask not what your country can do for you. . . ” has morphed into bi-lingual radio ads touting food stamps and free cell phones. Republicans certainly bear much of the blame for their election night blowout, but with an adolescent-oriented culture hostile to conservative Republican principles, Mitt Romney should be congratulated for convincing 48 percent of the electorate to vote for him.
To say that liberalism and the Democratic Party appeal to our baser instincts misses the larger point. They actually rob citizens of their individuality. We’re all demographics now: race, ethnicity, gender, red state/blue state, and some of us can expect to be courted heavily in the coming years, and some of us will be written off, as we are no longer profitable to the major parties.
That has always been at least somewhat true in political warfare, but only a coarsened society would exhort voting “as if your lady parts depended on it.” Setting aside the fact that birth control was never even an issue, lowering the concept of womanhood to the common denominator of primal sexual functions is far more demeaning than racy photos and off-color jokes in the workplace. To opine that a woman needs a husband constitutes sexism, to state that she needs the protection of Barack Obama nets you a prime-time slot at the Democratic Convention. Eleanor Roosevelt step aside, make way for Sandra Fluke, Ashley Judd and sex tips from Cosmopolitan magazine.
Moving to the economy, the “you-didn’t-build-that” philosophy of our president does not extol economic liberty or individual achievement, and our citizen-of the-world leader rarely celebrates American exceptionalism. The Kennedy/Johnson ’60′s gave us The New Frontier and The Great Society, concepts that could conceivably inspire. 2012 offers the banal, navel-gazing chants of hope and change and the lethargy induced by the super-annoying concept of “the new normal.”
The down-side of a post-judgmental society is that when we are all the same, we surrender our individuality. Super-spy James Bond, created 60 years ago by Ian Fleming as a dark-haired lothario, is now blonde and dropping hints that he’s a man’s man in more than one sense, if you get my drift (granted, a minor controversy, in the newly released Skyfall). Pornographers and reality stars now share the bestseller lists with presidential biographers. No distinctions, no censored titles, we’re all part of a greater cosmic, open borders whole. Why not wallow in the gutter, our diluted culture harbors no hang-ups and may offer a reality show, punctuated in an election year with a preponderance of ads for Democrats.
It was this brazen, collectivized worldview that won the election. In an Obama-nized world, he is the star and we are merely the extras. Ideally, it is the quirks, passions and unpredictability of everyday people that paint a nation’s landscape, and they still do. But American leadership no longer speaks to us individually, rather it herds us into government health care, higher tax rates, dependency and the trenches of class warfare.
The brown-nosing hall monitors of civic discourse remind the opposition to accept defeat gracefully, but one must never surrender, because, for the integrity of the individual soul to survive, it must guard itself every day from the crude, common and collectivist impulses of a tumultuous world.
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