I woke up today, and the sore throat had abated some, but not much. I may have had another cold, but I think I was just breathing heavily through my mouth a few nights ago, and the throat became quite sore to the point where it especially hurt to swallow. The nasal issue was probably due to cedar fever, which is common down here, and especially prevalent this year. Each little burst of physical activity, getting back into running and eating healthy foods, has resulted in some kind of illness knocking me down: hand-foot-mouth from the baby last summer, two colds last fall, and now cedar allergies. When you are young, you have to work very hard to make yourself sick, and even then, you are hungover for hours instead of all day. Then, you bounce up and run, play sports, party, get drunk and do it over and over again.
I did my walk for health down through UT campus today, passing by multiple scenes of construction and a few families visiting or moving in for spring semester. Aside from slight changes in car and clothing styles, and a few new buildings here and there, I doubt the scenes I passed by would have looked much different twenty years ago. Perhaps thirty or forty years is when you would start to see significant differences in the demographics of who is attending, and notice significantly fewer buildings or automobiles that were especially dated. Maybe I am speaking from a poor frame of reference, but it seems like by 1995, we Americans had built the world we want to live in, and had little interest in making it any better or changing it around. The styles and fashion trends continued to change, but they were mostly recycled elements from previous decades. The technology improved, but mostly by degree. Socially-speaking, there has been somewhat of a shift in our behavior–we smoke less and spend more time absorbed in our mobile devices; we are more accepting of homosexuality and probably more aware of what is going on in other parts of the world (maybe)–but, by and large, the world I passed by today wouldn’t probably have looked that different twenty years ago. Twenty years ago, I don’t think anyone would have paid me a second look, either. I wasn’t wearing VR glasses, or a bluetooth earpiece or riding around on a hoverboard or segue.
Actually, I probably would have gotten just as many looks for wearing or operating those things today–people by and large don’t seem to have any interest in drawing attention to themselves in order to use some type of technology that only marginally improves their lives. If I’d taken my smartphone out and started talking on it, I might have gotten a few looks in 1995. I can remember a friend in the dorms who spotted a woman talking on a car phone and riding her bicycle some time about that year, and he thought she was completely ridiculous for doing so. But, in 1995, there were people using cell phones.
The point is that I would tentatively argue that the society which has been built to look the way it does is by and large the way Western culture will look until it implodes or erodes. People are okay with not being able to get to another city a few hours faster, or have cars that can fly, or be able to visit the moon or mars as tourists. People are fine with their food being ready to eat at the time/cost it currently is ready to eat when served from a fast food restaurant or heated up from the grocery store freezer. People are by and large happy with their selections of entertainment–as they should be, the access to literature, music and movies for the cost is nothing short of miraculous. To be for sure, you have purists who say that the sound quality of this song isn’t as great unless it’s heard on vinyl, or the film should be seen as a film, and the book should be read in the form of a first edition hardback book, but most people are happy with what is available.
So, why this great unhappiness that has come over the land, and caused enough people to vote for an incompetent asshole that he’s on the verge of fucking everything up? There are probably a dozen theories for why this is, and they are probably all contributing factors. People have it too good, and they can’t remember how bad even their grandparents had it after WWII, which is to say that the creature comforts of today beat hands down the ones of the fifties, and most people, even the ones living in poverty, have access to many of these creature comforts–refrigeration, air conditioning, television, microwave, etc. People have been told that they should have things better–or that people who are living in this particular area have it better, and the ones who have it better didn’t have to work as hard for their nice stuff as these other people did. Maybe there is even yet a lingering sense that humanity in its entirety could be something better, but we are too scared to ask that question, and so it’s better to simply compare how we and our immediate neighbors are living against some hotshot techie limousine liberal living on one of the coasts.
Or, it could be that the idea of American being something less than it once was is an utter fabrication–by all standards of measurement, almost every demographic is doing better than members of the previous generation in that demographic did. For sure, you can always find counter-examples to a rule–there will inevitably be generations of people who do worse or have it worse than their parents did–but, statistically speaking in the sense of an aggregate of people coming together to vote in a democratic republic–all demographic groups have it better than their parents and grandparents did. This may or may not be the truth. There may be pockets here and there in the country where manufacturing or mining jobs persisted into the early 2000s, but those pockets shouldn’t have been enough to make a difference in determining who became president.
For my money, it mostly looks like people were fed a certain kind of myth for eight years–that things were shit for them under a black president, and now you’re going to let a woman president (who is the most diabolical witch ever) take over from there? It doesn’t matter if Joe Blow now makes three times as much as his daddy did, while working at a desk job in IT support, and drives a truck that is three times as big as his daddy’s and lives in a similarly-sized house. Joe Blow can somehow just sense that things are not quite right unless a white man is in the White House.
For most of us, the result is going to hopefully be a valuable civics lesson in what happens when someone like Trump is permitted to make it into the White House. I would suspect that after a few years, the so-called powers that be are not going to what the man around anymore, and neither will the little people. Trump will have blundered and blustered his way through enough near misses on seeing the country completely destroyed, that no one will want to see Trump or anyone like Trump anywhere near the White House again.
I will not be terribly surprised if the U.S. sees some kind of terrorist attack on the order of magnitude of 9/11 at that point, and most people will cower and state that we need to go ahead and re-elect Herr Trump to protect us–for the good of the country. At this point, he will declare martial law and crown himself king. Some people have argued that we have too many checks and balances and people in places of power that wouldn’t permit such a thing to happen. Let’s hope so. What the Republican Party has demonstrated recently, is that they don’t care if the U.S. has been compromised by an old cold war enemy, as long as their team is winning. They have effectively demonstrated that they don’t have any scruples when it comes to maintaining the U.S. in whatever form it was that made it appear to be a free, democratic republic. No one in Joe Blow’s America seems to be bothered by this. Any attempt to make something of it seems to result in the individual being dismissed as either a sour grapes partisan or a washed up RINO.
I am not sure how I ended up on such a lengthy political rant. I was hoping to come home and ruminate on the way the world never seems to change, but then I started to get riled up and worried that it will all change too much, too soon. What I really want is to be walking through a college campus almost twenty years from now with my son and having him be just as excited about college as I was, and see everything as being more or less the same as it was when I was in school. I don’t want him to have to worry about pledging loyalty to the fascist Trump state, or be required to have an embedded chip put into his forehead or hand in order for him to attend a state school. I don’t want my son worrying about where he is going to eat tomorrow, because we are living on the fringes of a nuclear wasteland. I want his concerns to be completely about which school to attend, which major to pick, which girlfriend is worth bringing home to meet mom and dad, etc. I hope to God he’s smarter than I was about booze and getting involved with activities on campus that will help him get places in life.
But, if he is completely bound for a trade school or the army, that’s okay too. As long as the world is more or less the same–with the biggest changes being ones that come gradually and in an expected fashion as part of a natural progression of advancement in human understanding about the universe.