The warblers have begun to return, and a few days ago we stumbled across a dozen flickers at rest in a field. The political and economic ground is an unsteady, groaning mess for most of the electorate, but the birds are coming up from the south as they have for millions of years. So at least hoorah for that. In these rough days, we will take stability wherever we can find it.
A female yellow warbler. This is what I saw.
How many of your friends and acquaintances are looking for shelter from economic, political and social storms? The ones that have been smashing into the US for decades — of globalization and its inhuman, survival of the most connected (or most favored by policy, tax law and wealth); of bloody jihadi shocks against moral sense; of the unrelenting screeching of the digitized world ? Perhaps most of all, the feeling that human beings do not quite belong here anymore, here being wherever you felt some sense of continuity, peace … certainty? Not since the years of Vietnam and Nixon have I seen this intensity of alienation.
So Mr. Trump comes along and blows up the Republican Party because its elites had long ago written off its working class voters as yokels satisfied with anti-abortion rhetoric, magic tricks involving taxes, and empty vows that they too are just good ‘ol boys. Mr. Sanders comes along and offers an economic program directly at odds with the elite of the Democratic Party who for decades have been happy to accommodate most of the big money interests of corporations and banks.
I know lots of those men and women Mr. Trump is targeting with his promises filled with aggression and his demeanor of the anti-politician — I taught them — kids who grew up on farms or who learned at an early age how to take machines apart and put them back together — hunters, fishermen, carpenters, landscape workers, truck drivers, aides in nursing homes, technicians in office work of all types and the ones most likely to have joined a branch of the armed services, and to have paid the most terrible of costs for their patriotism.
Who has spoken to them recently, directly to them?* They see a country and a world in turmoil where they no longer seem to fit.
Mr. Sanders has the overwhelming support of the young (an elastic demographic). What have they seen of twenty-first century capitalism?
School loans the equivalent to indentured servitude. Internships that pay nothing.
Middle-class jobs either disappearing or under attack (spoken to any cops or teachers lately, social workers, nurses, anyone in retail?)
A complete lack of certainty as to what kinds of jobs will endure.
They see so many politicians busily creating a new American aristocracy — all hail the billionaires, all hail the Big Banks, all hail the wisdom of Tech giants and CEO’s. May we ensure their endurance.#
They have witnessed first-hand the struggle of their mothers and fathers to adapt to the economic chaos produced by global trade.
Now it is their turn to struggle. It must feel as if they are diving into a mosh pit where everyone is wielding knives.
Most people need a haven, some one place where they can breathe more easily and block, just for a while, the wild shows on their screens, the pressure to perform, the lightning-strike calls out there to be angry, forever angry.
So … the warblers are returning, wildflowers are unfolding, the earth is warming to the hands, it feels good to turn up one’s face to the sun, and children smile all around us. We will take stability where we can find it.
*Mr. Trump is not speaking to or for them. His economic plan is the same supply-side drivel the Republicans have been putting out since St. Ronald was elected in 1980. He offers a paunchy caricature of machismo, the wanna-be hard ass; the loud, ignorant drunk who has taken his same seat at the local dive for 30 years and who will spout off every boorish, ugly line he can think when he is free-associating to TV news.
#“What matters is justice. ‘Tis why I’m here. I’ll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I’m Kilrain, and I God damn all gentlemen. I don’t know who me father was and I don’t give a damn. There’s only one aristocracy, and that’s right here—’ he tapped his white skull with a thick finger.”
Buster Kilrain, The Killer Angels by Michael Sharra
**No one, no Republican, not Mr. Sanders, not Mrs. Clinton, has yet put forward a viable plan as to how to create lasting middle class jobs. I suspect no one knows how to do so right now. After a massive effort to repair our infrastructure, then what? Maybe that is all we can hope for now — a series of short-term efforts until the economy assumes a more stable, understandable form.