“We gotta get out of this place
If it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Girl, there’s a better life for me and you.” — Barry Mann
There comes a time when you suddenly realize things are untenable. Anyone that has studied any of the social sciences knows that the first assumption in any study is that we are dealing with rational actors. You have to. Nothing makes sense otherwise and even if it did things would be far too depressing.
The Atlantic published a story recently that cuts to the heart of everything. It isn’t so much that the opposing side is irrational. They seem to be on a different planet. For those that don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, the story basically chronicles how January 6th wasn’t a singular seminal event. It is just the beginning.
We had talk of generations the other day and one of the major differences between our generation and the one from the past has been our (Generation X) willingness to uproot and move elsewhere. Whether we change neighborhoods, cities, states, or just jobs we are more willing to move in general. It is much more rare for us to stay in the same job for 30+ years, retire, and then get our gold watch.
Perhaps, it’s the fact that there are fewer gold watches to be had. Fewer businesses offer pensions and the bigger corporations are a little less personal than they used to be. Maybe we just can’t form that emotional attachment others could before. My mother taught in the same classroom for over 20 years. Even if I stayed on the same campus, I doubt that would ever happen. Change is just a normal part of life.
More and more people are bailing on their neighborhood, city, or state. We don’t like something and we want to try something else. Maybe the grass is greener and maybe it isn’t. This awkward build up is just to say what happens when you realize the country you live in has somehow been radicalized. An alarming number of folks are no longer rational actors. When we lose that rationality we become unable to predict the future.
However, what is most frustrating is that both parties have failed to see what’s at stake. One party has allowed a cult of personality to take it over. Their party platform in the last election was literally, “whatever that guy wants.” They just skipped those parts of the proceedings. Meanwhile, the other party seems to be having the same policy squabbles it always has.
Moderates argue with progressives about tax policy, the amount of spending, and messaging. Sure, these arguments have always happened. I’m sure they are comfortable on a certain level when they have them. It makes them feel normal. It makes them forget that one side is not having those conversations with them. The other side just says no and moves on.
What we cannot forget is that the other side has stopped merely saying no and opposing change. They used to just obstruct the legislative process. They used to just obstruct the process of appointing judges. They used to put their thumb on the scale of elections just to gain an advantage. At heart, they were the Really Rottens from the Laff Olympics. They cheated to win, but all of their cheating and chicanery was in the interest of winning. No one ever got hurt in the exchange. They just lost something they should have won.
Those days are gone. The Really Rottens have become homicidal maniacs. They are literally posting videos where they fanaticize about killing members of the opposition. They are throwing out extremely dangerous racist and xenophobic rhetoric and then casually apologizing as if they just told a joke that was a little too offensive. They are praising people that said they wanted to kill members of Congress and the vice president. After all, they say the pledge of allegiance at nine every night.
In such a world you have two choices. You can stand up and fight finally realizing that the threat is very real and very scary. You can also do the Generation X thing and simply move. There are over 200 countries in the world and the vast majority have freedom. Many of them have better health care and benefits too. There certainly is a whole lot less gun violence. Either way, we can no longer pretend that things are normal and everyone is a rational actor. Those days are long gone.