What I Want from This Year’s Circus


Years ago, Alvin Toffler convinced me that elections are merely reassurance rituals, and so I take no part in them. But these blaring spectacles – and especially the “every fourth year” variety – do have effects in the world, and so I peek in on them from time to time.

This year’s circus is more interesting than most. Whatever else comes of it, things are clearly being shaken up. And that’s something I very much welcome. I’m not interested in violent shakeups of course, but I’d welcome almost any nonviolent break in the Western status quo.

I do understand the appeal of regularity, especially to older folks. Regularity has a good deal of comfort value, and I don’t want to rip that away from people. But on the other hand, regularity turns too easily into a deathly stasis. And we must escape that.

Shake-ups, contrary to most opinions, are healthy; here’s a line from C. Delisle Burns’ wonderful history of early Europe, The First Europe, that makes this point:

[I]n times of social transition there is greater vitality among ordinary men and women than at other times, precisely because the displacement of ancient customs compels them to think and act for themselves.

I want more of that… much more of that.

The Contenders

Here’s what I think will follow this year’s circus. Bear in mind that I’m ignoring the “my team wins!” euphoria and focusing on what happens after the chariot races are over and the drunken Roman throngs stagger home to their hangovers.

In the red corner… In the red corner we have New York Donny. Donny is really good at working the crowd; he knows what they’ve been waiting to hear and he gives it to them. Furthermore, he knows how to hit all the instinctive buttons, and he never admits an error. Whatever his personal failures may be, he’s really good at self-promotion. He’s spent half a century at it, after all, and Donny is not stupid.

As president of all the red, white, and blues, I think Donny will actually try to keep his promises. To do that, however, he’ll have to make some pretty questionable deals with members of the Blue party, but I think he’ll do it. The scary part involves what he deals away.

The wild card in a Donny presidency would be his relationship with deep state elites. I suspect he’ll make deals with them too, but sooner or later, giant egos will collide and Donny may go “New York” on them. If that happens, we may find ourselves watching news stories about a three-named assassin with obscure ties to an intel agency. Or less dramatically (and perhaps more likely), a variety of quagmires in which Donny’s feet will become stuck.

In the blue corner… In the blue corner we have Just Because Hillary. Everyone knows that Hillary’s morality has more holes in it than a window screen, but lots of people want her elected because… well… just because. She’s a woman, after all, and all those aging ’60s and ’70s babes pledged their lives to political solutions, and a woman president is their big payoff. We had a black guy last time, so now it’s their turn.

Once in office, Hillary will be the same as she’s always been. More than likely, she’ll drag the “grand old flag” into more wars than Donny would. She doesn’t enjoy negotiating like he does. She’ll do whatever the State Department (read Deep State) wants, and that means trying to enforce stasis on the entire planet. One or more of those wars may be an embarrassing loss.

No Matter Which Way…

So, no matter which way the big circus turns, I think we can expect some cracks in the Western facade.

If Hillary gets to live in the big, impressive house, the clock may run out on millions of Americans who want to believe in a God-blessed government. They’ve struggled 15 years to maintain the illusion and its expiration date may be close.

Hillary will do approximately what Obama did, which was approximately what Bush Jr. did. If nothing else, people will become bored with it; more and more of them will admit that the entire exercise was a waste.

If Donny gets to live in the big, impressive house, he’s likely to break things, and that means change, whether people like it or not.

And Then?

It’s hard to say exactly how much JFK’s assassination affected the 1960s and early ’70s, but I think it cracked open the stasis of the previous era. On its heels came a “time of social transition,” to use Burns’ words. This wasn’t nearly as profound as the fall of Rome, but it had its results: The decade that ran from roughly 1965 to 1975 was a time of open futures.

I lived through that decade, and even though it featured a lot of stupidity, I’d take it back. Its new ideas were often ridiculous and sometimes damaging – open space allowed every whack-job with a reheated lunacy to trumpet his revelation – but at least people were thinking something beyond the mundane.

We had Communists and objectivists, free-lovers and Jesus freaks, nature-worshippers and NASA nerds, all mixed together. It was a confused mess, but the people holding these ideas put their hearts and souls into them. For better or worse, they were alive.

Since then, we’ve had endless images of “living loud,” but very little actual life. We’ve been submerged in the mundane. The decade of 1965–1975, as goofy as it was, looks pretty good by comparison.

And so, if we’re very, very lucky, the Donny and Hillary circus may break the stasis of our time. That’s what I want.


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Paul Rosenberg