There may only be a fading myth born of a 500-year spree. The West found a whole new continent to exploit in 1492—a once-in-a-millennium event. The glorious promise of wealth inherent in that event has drawn people who transcendentally love money here from all over the world continuously from then ’til now.
Like a vast Darwinian juggernaut, this uniquely American situation has selected for that type of person to become our citizenry over all those many generations. It’s a wonder we have anything here at all but businesspersons and bankers! The long, long influx of the acquisitive has expressed itself most endearingly as “the American dream.” Time is running out on that dream, what with all our national wealth going into mad wars, and China rising fast and all.
So what’s left is a nation of some very bewildered people. They were sure they were all going to get rich. Now lots of the ones near the bottom of the middle class are coming to realized they’re headed down, not up.*
At times when a society’s foundational myths are crumbling they are clutched at all the more passionately. Or, as one smart commentator said in response to today’s New York Times column by David Brooks:
The reason for disillusionment [with President Obama and the Democrats] is because most Americans are still clinging to the delusion of their own specialness. A fake narrative endlessly peddled by the conservative dream makers to keep the pocket picking endless.
“Oh yes, stout American, you are a giant of your time. A hero. Admired. Individual. Listen to our rousing conservative homage to your ego.”
But of course it’s fiction. Fiction lapped up like sweet water in a desert, but still fiction.
Americans, haven’t reacted [to the recent and perhaps continuing Depression and the Obama’s resulting election] with a “deep, vestigial sense of proportion”. They’ve reacted with a tantrum, ticked off because the fiction is exposed and they can’t accept it. They can’t accept that the riches they were promised by the free market and housing boom was in fact a shell game. They’ve been Bushwacked.
The problem with Obama is that he’s actually trying to tie solutions to his rhetoric and, politically, Americans aren’t used to that. Don’t want it. We are not prepared and are still addicted to our delusion. Right now we resemble teenagers on a school day morning who don’t want to get up and face the test they haven’t studied for. ‘I’m sick’.
Wake up America and face the music.”
*For evidence of how and why they are headed down, see my earlier post, “So THAT’S Why You Both Have to Work” at
Globalization and the resulting export of once-well-paid working class job is likely to make all this worse in future.