Two weeks until Election Day and former President Obama declared he was through giving speeches—he was out of words. Amen—my feeling exactly. In an election that is more vital than any midterms of recent history, we cannot communicate with—cannot reach—half the voters of the country.
Both sides believe the oligarchy of the rich has taken control of our government, but the working class is devoted to Trump, a member of tht one percent. “Trickle-down” economics has sucked up the factories where these workers earned their living, absorbed their small businesses, and endangered their middle class status, yet these same workers call Trump their Messiah. Though they are the stalwarts of law and order, they’ve cast their lot with a man who has contempt for both. What can you say?
They will point to the liberals’ disruption of norms—abortion, gay, women’s and minority rights, and the moral upheaval of the sexual revolution. During the riots of the Sixties in the university town where we lived, I realized the stabilizing role of the conservative, small-town women who anchored our neighborhood—a stability that disintegrated as our own children entered adolescence in the midst of the turmoil. As a wife and mother, I more than sympathize with their distress.
Add the technology revolution which has threatened to sweep away the real world for the virtual, beyond all of our reach, and you’ve created a terrifying chaos, even for someone who believes in the changes, as I do. If what marks the difference between conservative and liberal is belief in order versus belief in change, then the need for order may be the power that’s driving conservatives to Trump. And order, for so many, lies not in the Constitution but in the Bible.
They want the cowboy who rides into town and puts things right, taking over for the weakling, corrupt citizenry who’ve made a mess of things. Forever skeptical of the ability of the masses to govern themselves, they want a strong man to whip things back into shape. I remember people remarking, during World War II, that Mussolini made the trains run on time. Democracy is a messy business, a bumbling elephant, and few of us are strangers to the urge to knock a few heads.
So how do you tell them that in their longing for order, they are endangering the institutions that protect their freedom and their rights? That in silencing the voice of change, they are endangering their own voice. I don’t know. But I do know it is time to tell them to stop—that they are doing nothing but creating a chaos of their own—one that endangers all of us. Only the vote can do that.