Whose country is America? If you had any doubt about the answer to that question heading into President Donald Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, you shouldn’t now. In the best speech he’s ever given, President Trump sounded like the President. He delivered a message that both sides of the aisle can get behind in a tone that was non-confrontational. He spoke from his heart declaring, “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.” It’s America first. The way it should be.
You read in my five-part series on “Trump’s Great White Wall” about the real Americans that put him in office (If not you can read them here: I, II, III, IV, and V). This theme, about the people who are the fabric of our country, is not going away. Here you get a wonderful editorial by Reuven Brenner in the WSJ about an essay published back in 1970 by Eric Hoffer, the “longshoreman philosopher” that could have been written this morning.
“Scratch an intellectual, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound and the smell of common folk.” Those words might have been written last year, as an explanation for Donald Trump’s rise or a rejoinder to Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of “deplorables.”
In fact they were published in November 1970 and written by Eric Hoffer, the “longshoreman philosopher,” who was best known for his slender 1951 classic, “The True Believer: Thoughts on the nature of Mass Movements.” The 1970 essay, under the headline “Whose Country Is America?,” eerily anticipated not only the political events of 2016 but the tone and language of last year’s campaign and the anti-Trump hysteria since Election Day.
Hoffer started his analysis with “the conspicuousness of the young”—that is, the baby boomers. “They have become more flamboyant, more demanding, more violent, more knowledgeable and more experienced,” he wrote. “The general impression is that nowadays the young act like the spoiled children of the rich.”
He attributed those developments to the “ordeal of affluence,” which threatened social stability. Wealth without work “creates a climate of disintegrating values with its fallout of anarchy.” Among the poor this takes the form of street crime; among the affluent, of “insolence on the campus”—both “sick forms of adolescent self-assertion.” As a result, “‘men of words’ and charismatic leaders—people who deal with magic—come into their own,” while “the middle class, lacking magic, is bungling the job” of maintaining social order.
Read more here.