New York Times columnist David Brooks, no slavish fan of the President, called his Inaugural Address “the best in the last half century.” Hard to disagree, for it beckoned us to a journey that if left uncompleted may well presage the end to that journey.
My politically skilled Grandson was in proud attendance, free to choose the passage that most stood out for him. History usually makes this decision for us [eg. “With malice toward none and charity for all…” “All we have to fear is fear itself…” “Ask not what your country can do for you…”]. My 2013 pick would be: “We the people understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it…”
Those words strike at the very core of our nation’s split personality. Oh, we love the daring, hell-bent-for-leather soloist at the very same time we admire the quiet, cool brilliance of teamwork.
Sure we respond to our rugged individuals from Davey Crockett and General Patton to Rambo and Die Hard. And yet we are staggered with pride at the teamwork of the Manhattan Project, the Normandy Invasion, right up to the next Super Bowl team of gladiatorial cogs in a mighty gridiron machine.
It’s never as simple as either/or. It’s a lot of both. Finding the exact right mix of the two is always the great gamble. But here, my citizen-friends, is where the historical shit hits the chronological fan…!
Right this very minute the two sides to our national split personality have returned home from Washington to settle into their own respective and unassailable castles:
* The “shrinking few who do very well” [from the Donald Trumps to the Hollywood scions to the military/industrial/think tank complex] have every fiscal reason to believe they were born-to-the-manor by right of the genetics of success
* The “growing many who barely make it” [from the shiftless ghetto wastrels to the talented unemployed to the physical & mentally disabled] have every social reason to believe The Few have no desire to share with them their cold cup of water
If the “shrinking few” and the “growing many” still fail to find a common language within the next half century, that half century could mark our last…
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