It’s something I say all the time when opining on the lack of a Churchill presence in our political world. There is a degenerative effect to such a void, and its chasm is a generational bumper sticker whose ugly residue can’t be chiseled off so easily.
Truth of the matter is, we’ve been finding our leaders on a micro level ever since Camelot was ambushed in Dealey Plaza. From Martin Luther King to Bobby Kennedy, the Beatles to Elvis, Harvey Milk to Hank Aaron to Hawking to Bono. The commonality in these names and all the others who’ve floated our rudderless boat over the past half century is that none of them resided in the Oval Office.
Leadership on a macro level has been usurped by scandal, attrition, Hollywood and every other man made disaster known to Henry Cabot’s log. Leadership from the very top of the Beltway became a trivial pursuit question the moment Nixon became Tricky Dick. And no matter the conservative revolution of Reagan or Boomer Clinton refurbishing a tired standard, or even the cultural significance of Obama. We turned these men into caricatures thirty seconds after their close up.
Is our current state of shit storm a self fulfilling prophecy? Is it the result of us having collectively thrown up our hands after Kennedy was stolen and Nixon was found to be a paranoid crook? Did we forget to cancel our subscription to the Zeitgeist after the failed leadership that turned Vietnam into a verb in perpetuity? Did we never mind the details for too long a time because iconic stimulation was a much more palatable cup of Joe?
Since then, the electorate has behaved like the baseball manager who keeps going to his bullpen until he finds the pitcher who fucks the whole thing up. Trump has been warming up in the bullpen for a long time. And now I have to wonder if this period in our history will make us smarter and more discerning of the process. Or will the idea that Trump could game the system and win polarize us even further?
I hope to hell it’s the former. I hope it has occurred to us that Trump is what happens when we refuse to build consensus. 2016 is what happens when the need to be right prevails over getting it right. We get a President who is a meme master, but who couldn’t lead us out of a wet paper bag.
It’s time to wise up or quit bitching. We can’t have both.