Thursday, May 5, 2016

When the Winds of Change Blow

Cover our heads or prepare for more

In a column about “angry”, “frustrated”, and “fed up” voters, Charles Lane offered this:
Yes, the country faces perplexing challenges, which Washington seems unable or unwilling to resolve. I would never tell denizens of a distressed factory town to shut up and count their blessings. 
However, the U.S. economy, much healthier than it was in the recent past, is outperforming most of the industrial world; wages, at last, are ticking up.
To mollify the anger, frustration, and discontent, some presidential aspirants offer folksy remedies: more coal miners, less fracking, renegotiation, isolation, barriers to inflows and outflows – whether labor or capital. Incumbents want staid and stable; amateurs want simplistic solutions and clich├ęs.

Citing the work of Yuval Levin, columnist Michael Gerson writes about economic "nostalgia":
Both right and left, in Levin’s account, miss the cohesion of mid-century America, and yet both are also relieved (in different ways) to be freed from those forces ...  Each side is convinced the other has achieved the greater victory and thus believes the country is going to hell. 
This backward-looking approach has deformed American politics ... Levin urges citizens to look forward – as well as downward, to improve the cultural patch around them.
Nostalgia helps maintain the past. Change is upsetting, unsettling, risky, and certain. We can – to the best of our ability and foresight – prepare for the future. We can – with courage and encouragement – coax the fearful and doubtful out of the past. We can offer a Plan B when Plan A is no longer viable. We can teach the next generation of fisherman, but they must take the bait. Policies must enable change, not feed nostalgia.

"One for all and all for one" seems trite. The alternative, however, is a house divided.