Riptide

Summer                                                                  Moon of the Summer Solstice

Worked here two summers
Johns-Manville factory ruins: Alexandria, Indiana I worked here for two summers.

A nearby neighbor, Ian, with a wonderful Scot’s accent, dropped by yesterday to inquire about our fence, wondering who built it. After I gave him Mike Van Hee’s number, we talked. Ian doesn’t want Scottish independence, nor did he want Great Britain to leave the E.U. But, he said, Scottish independence seems inevitable now. The Scots voted very pro-remain.

The undertow of populism has created a riptide in the ocean of contemporary Western politics. It drug under the E.U.’s record of no member losses since 1950 and may drag down even more. Our favorite right wing populist, the Hairdo, happened to be in Scotland working on his golf course there. Turns out he’s delighted with Brexit. The Brits took back their country, he said. Just like he wants Americans to take back their country. From whom? Well, not really sure, but those who’ve made us not great. You know who you are.

Coming from a part of Indiana racked by the economic woes of the 1970’s, principally those emanating from failing Detroit car manufacturers, I know this disturbance in the force of American politics has a long tail. Those who used to be able to care for their family with a blue-collar job, and care for it well, have lost those jobs. Long ago. The creative destruction of the market economy doesn’t look so creative from the streets of Alexandria, Indiana.

the edge of town, Alexandria
the edge of town, Alexandria

I both understand and agree with the anger and frustration felt by working class Americans. I prefer the Occupy movement’s response, the Bernie Sanders’ response over the raw anger demagoguery of the Donald, but the underlying political stimulus is the same in all three cases. No nation can withstand millions of its working age citizens relegated to McJobs or no jobs at all. History teaches us that there will be a reckoning when folks get locked out of the means to care for themselves and their loved ones.

That reckoning seems on the verge of breaking through the hard crust of traditional politics. It’s important and necessary, like a fever breaking, but the disjunction such a reckoning can foster is hard to predict. Just ask the residents of France during the French revolution or the Russians at the turn of the last century. The unintended and the unexpected will predominate. Like Brexit. Watch out.

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