Author and popular political pundit Noonan says out-of-touch leaders don’t see the need to cool things off in this op-ed for the Wall Street Journal:
It is, obviously, self-referential to quote yourself, but I do it to make a point. I wrote the following on New Year’s day, 1994. America 16 years ago was a relatively content nation, though full of political sparks: 10 months later the Republicans would take the House for the first time in 40 years. But beneath all the action was, I thought, a coming unease. Something inside was telling us we were living through “not the placid dawn of a peaceful age but the illusory calm before stern storms.”
The temperature in the world was very high. “At home certain trends—crime, cultural tension, some cultural Balkanization—will, we fear, continue; some will worsen. In my darker moments I have a bad hunch. The fraying of the bonds that keep us together, the strangeness and anomie of our popular culture, the increase in walled communities . . . the rising radicalism of the politically correct . . . the increased demand of all levels of government for the money of the people, the spotty success with which we are communicating to the young America’s reason for being and founding beliefs, the growth of cities where English is becoming the second language . . . these things may well come together at some point in our lifetimes and produce something painful indeed. I can imagine, for instance, in the year 2020 or so, a movement in some states to break away from the union. Which would bring about, of course, a drama of Lincolnian darkness. . . . You will know that things have reached a bad pass when Newsweek and Time, if they still exist 15 years from now, do cover stories on a surprising, and disturbing trend: aging baby boomers leaving America, taking what savings they have to live the rest of their lives in places like Africa and Ireland.”
I thought of this again the other day when Drudge headlined increasing lines in London for Americans trading in their passports over tax issues, and the sale of Newsweek for $1.
Our problems as a nation have been growing on us for a long time. Their future growth, and the implications of that growth, could be predicted. But there is one thing that is both new since 1994 and huge. It took hold and settled in after the crash of 2008, but its causes were not limited to the crash.
The biggest political change in my lifetime is that Americans no longer assume that their children will have it better than they did. This is a huge break with the past, with assumptions and traditions that shaped us…
[continues in the Wall Street Journal]