It’s been a week of sober reflection, accompanied by a self-imposed news fast, during which I’ve struggled to understand the deeper meaning of our recent electoral catastrophe. Doing so undistracted by a thousand voices required strict electronic disengagement. I recommend this as one would take a purgative after eating a batch of bad oysters.
Many of us of the libertarian persuasion who had never previously voted Republican made an exception this time because the stakes were so high. In a purposeful departure from our usual “pox on both their houses” approach, we waded into the partisan fray naively believing we could make a difference, ignoring the stink on those with whom we made common cause simply because the alternative was so much worse.
All for naught. After approaching it for decades, America has now hurtled past the dependency tipping point. We have scrapped the last vestiges of our constitutionally limited republic of strictly enumerated powers and replaced it with an unconstrained entitlement democracy neither better nor worse than any of the others whose failures have dotted the course of history—all over weighty issues such as who should pay for condoms.
Heeding the cry, Forward!, an electoral majority happily voted for itself unlimited benefits that will supposedly be paid for by a productive minority—even as the nation careens toward bankruptcy and said productive minority starts eyeing the exits. With demographic changes reinforcing a permanent ethnic tribalism that abjures the melting pot, the likelihood that our country will ever recover its founding values has vanished as thoroughly as our respect for the dead white men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to make our way of life possible.
So be it. Mourn, if you choose. But when you’re done you still have to pay the rent.
Making one’s way in a country increasingly falling under the spell of slogans used so effectively by Vladimir Lenin and his fellow travelers requires a new strategy, lest one fall into chronic despair. This is necessary because nothing is worse than becoming that one species of ideologue that no one can abide—a bore.
What should that new strategy be?
I searched for the answer as I reassessed my own mission as an opinion columnist. Today, that is a calling, not a true profession. The going rate for opinion pieces has dropped from $1.50 per word—eagerly paid by hungry editors back when magazines had business models that actually worked—to zero in today’s content-glutted, balkanized blogosphere. Let’s face it, as traditional publishing slowly perishes and is replaced by an electronically enabled mediocrity made possible by the removal of all barriers to entry, those of us who write do so solely to entertain what micro-audiences we can gather—a sorry business to be sure, yet one with deep cultural roots.
Examining those roots led me to the brink of enlightenment. Crossing its threshold required abandoning all pretenses that the legacy of Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, and Washington has any relevance to our modern world—acknowledging the judgment of our fellow citizens that the Constitution as written is no longer a guiding document, but an outmoded relic of an age gone by. In its stead we have the virtues of unlimited empathy, fairness, solidarity, and the surrender of ever bigger slices of our take-home pay. Acknowledging these painful truths and in a token of my conversion, I have burned my voter registration card so as to never be patsy or party to another damn fool election.