For well more than a century, Americans have had the choice like that in an old general store I used to go to in rural West Virginia with a swinging sign that read, “ice cream, guns and ammo.” The ice cream came in two flavors, vanilla and chocolate. That has been our choice in political parties as well. As of November 2, there will be a new flavor: Libertarian. It is already there. It has fully metabolized into the mainstream. Although not a Libertarian, Sarah Palin is the La Passionara of this new awakening and Ron Paul, banned from the discussion in 2008, the Gray Champion. At first, that is when she was being called a slut by David Letterman and regularly mocked by Tina Fey, the eagle-eyed op-ed writers of the NYTs sounded a clarion. One of their most capable, the one who lives abroad, said it recalled to him those bad days when the broody earth spirits began to arise in the gnostic German heart. I am sure he was not talking about the Moravians. But today, in only two years, we are merely considered “extremists.” Now that is pilgrim’s progress.
I think psychiatrists call this binary state “undifferentiated.” It is like the first division of an embryo: Ford and Chevy. I think it represents the most generic form of the creation or an early form which will eventually evolve and become multifaceted and full like the rest of the world and the people will become whole. Two cars, Ford and Chevy, two ice creams. Two political parties. Those were your choices. And they were both more or less the same. Back then you couldn’t find a pizza anywhere in North Carolina outside of Chapel Hill. And shrimp with lobster sauce in a Chinese restaurant in Milledgeville, Georgia, home town of Flannery O’Connor, consisted of chipped beef on Rice Krispies. Now you could probably get sushi and study Aikido there. There are all kinds of cars, foods and ice cream today, but politics is still vanilla and chocolate, Democrat and Republican. Next week brings the end of two flavor politics.
The NYTs foreign correspondent was right to see this as a heartland uprising or awakening. He was wrong to instinctively see Americans who farm for a living as incipient fascists but I doubt he has ever visited the American heartland. His instinct did however suggest the alienation between the urban east and the heartland that has occurred. Gone are the days when the great writers and editors of NY like Harold T.P. Hayes and Willie Morris came from the rural South. Gone as well with them are the days of prose like Willa Cather’s and Truman Capote’s. Editors come now from Ivy League schools, and that brings an added dimension of class alienation.
They are not really snobs, as they are now being called. They are protecting their territory and their territory is their generation and its icons, ideas and avatars. And the generation has ended. All that is left of it is Keith Richards and his narcotic dream of his mother killing his cat. And Hillary, but there will always be Hillary. Blame it on the London School of Economics-educated economist Mick Jagger, who first introduced us to Friedrich Hayek.
This must be the way the world ends when it ends badly; in a dream of a dead cat.