That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 2
September 2, 2016
Time to bail
“They just don’t care”
By RONALD N. NEFF
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In 1975, I met a man I shall call Cameron.
Cameron ran a local Western Islands bookstore. For you youngsters, Western Islands was the publishing arm of the John Birch Society and it operated a chain of bookstores. It is not clear to me whether the JBS still operates any bookstores, but given the state into which independent bookstores have fallen, I suspect that it does not.
The store Cameron ran offered many more books than those published by Western Islands. Despite its size, he was able to display titles attractively and in an orderly fashion. I visited it often it was there that I first heard of the Council on Foreign Relations and its role in the ruling of the United States but not nearly as often as I wish I had. Cameron was an intense guy, prone to overstating things, I thought, but always interesting. I was sorry to notice that I was often the only person in the store.
The store had fairly limited hours: there was no possibility that Cameron could base his living on the work he did there. Or that the store could afford to pay for employees to remain open during ordinary business hours. It was above all a labor of love for him. And the exact status of the store's ownership was never clear to me. Was Cameron a franchisee? Or merely a hired manager? Events suggest that the latter is not plausible. He was probably something in between. To keep body and soul together, he worked at a nearby Safeway as a check-out clerk. Whenever I saw him there, I made a point of going through his line just to say hello and maybe exchange a few words. He always seemed happy to have someone to talk to and he always had some little bit of information to impart that was new to me.
In the election of 1976, conservatives were alarmed that if Gerald Ford were defeated by Jimmy Carter, the latter's left-wing policies and positions would, if put into effect, spell the end of the middle class. Their concern was not entirely misplaced. In 1976, the United States was still in the throes of high inflation and high unemployment, which threatened to do just that. (A whimsical image for the former may be seen in the opening credits of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," where Mary is shown looking with distress at the price of a package of meat in a grocery store, and resignedly tossing it into her shopping cart.) As a point of reference, the dollar had lost nearly
50 percentof its value from the previous ten years. (Since then, it has lost another 75 percent.But that's another story.)
In the event, I suppose it may be said that the only thing that saved America's middle class from Carter's policies was something no one could have foreseen: the fact that the oligarchs of Carter's party were so unhappy with having lost control of the nominating process that they determined to destroy his presidency. The culmination of this effort came with Ted Kennedy's fake primary challenge in 1980. I say "fake" because Kennedy after causing the death of a female campaign worker in a 1969 drunk-driving incident had no chance of winning anything other than a protected senatorial re-election bid in Massachusetts. (How the Democracy destroyed the Carter presidency is one of the subjects of Walter Karp's Liberty Under Siege, a discussion of which may be found in my article "'Any Day Is a Good Day to Fight for Liberty.'") But even a fake challenge to a sitting president weakens him in the eyes of a public not conversant with the conventions of political theater.
(I interrupt my flow of thought here to note that in 1969, Kennedy was not in favor of making abortion legal. Once the Supreme Court had overthrown the laws of all fifty states, however, he became one of abortion's champions. My friend Joe Sobran sometimes speculated that his many re-elections despite the scandal of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne were pay-off for that support. Or perhaps that his support was the price he paid for re-election support. I suppose they amount to the same thing.)
But to return to Cameron. Most people have forgotten that there was some short-lived controversy about whether Carter had won the election in 1976. The election had been extremely close in Hawaii and Ohio, and there was some talk about a recount. But after a day or two, most of that talk had died down. Lyndon LaRouche's National Caucus of Labor Committees continued actively trying to generate concern about the accuracy of the vote count, insisting that Ford had won. In the end, LaRouche and the NCLC were both so marginalized that the public simply took no note of their efforts. They were like men who wear their hats upside-down and who argue that Jesus was really a Swede. And in any case, Ford was not interested in a recount and soon announced he would be working at the American Enterprise Institute, which cleared out an entire floor of its building on Massachusetts Avenue for his offices.
A few days after it had become clear that Carter would in fact be the next president, I saw Cameron at the Safeway, and I asked him what his thoughts were. He told me he would be closing the bookstore, because, as he put it so ruefully, "they just don't care." The store was vacated by the end of November.
I have always assumed that "they" were the American people, and that what he was saying was that they just didn't care about whether the middle class continued to exist. They just didn't care whether socialism came to the United States. They just didn't care whether they continued to be a free people.
At the time, I thought it a shame that the bookstore would close. Without an Internet or World Wide Web, there was no easy way to obtain the books Cameron was selling. Mail-order from organizations listed in the back of publications was pretty much the only option available to people who liked unconventional analyses of political affairs.
Today, as I contemplate the fact that the Democracy has nominated as its standard-bearer a woman who is easily the most corrupt candidate in its history, it is clear that the matter is much worse than what Cameron saw in 1976. Not only do a sizable number perhaps a majority, not of likely voters, but of the entire population not care about liberty or socialism or stuff like that. They don't even care about minimal honesty. They don't care about corruption.
Oh, I could see mounting support for a candidate like Hillary Clinton if she were just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill socialist, like Norman Thomas. But the corruption that has been demonstrated over a lifetime in the pursuit of power and booty, and the ease with which it is waved away, strike me as symptoms of a degraded population. So degraded, indeed, that I have to wonder just what kind of person would desire to continue living among them.
I am not, of course, smitten with admiration for Donald Trump. But he strikes me as an ordinary run-of-the-mill kind of power-seeker, his virtue no greater than that of any other man, his wickedness also no greater. I could be wrong about that I am often wrong in my appraisal of such people. But such is the appearance to me. His opponent, however, is not an ordinary power-seeker. Her language, her positions, her bloviations are such that they do not seem to me to be the product of a human mind. I would, in fact, be relieved to learn that she is a defective robot built by space aliens, her intellect generating a sort of Brundlefly of thoughts; it would explain so much. It would make the world seem a little more rational to me. But only a little more, because, after all, there are still all those people who are enthusiastic for this defective robot with a Brundleflied intellect. Of course, I understand that liberals want to support someone who shares their position. To that I take no exception. But that they can be so enthusiastic for her despite her corruption, despite the sheer convolution of what passes for her thinking ... I am at a loss.
It is becoming clear that I am living among people who are insane, which is to say, people who are unable to distinguish right from wrong, and people who do not care about the distinction. People who will believe anything, such as that two men can get married to each other, or, for that matter, that, contrary to the experience, observation, thought, and poetry of the last 3,000 years, there really is no such thing as a man or a woman.
For more than 30 years, I have marveled that Christian parents do not remove their children from the public school systems of this country. Now I marvel that they (and so many of us others) do not leave the country, to go someplace where people may be oppressed, but at least are not insane. To go somewhere where evil is the ordinary human kind of familiar evil that hides in the shadows and that we all know exists in this world, not this monstrosity that parades before us demanding that all of us cheer it as very goodness. It is one thing to have to live in a vale of tears; billions of us have managed to do it for millennia. We can manage that. But to live in the midst of the hideous laughter of madness and to be surrounded by neighbors who cannot hear it?
In so many ways, Cameron, you were ahead of your time. Ω
September 2, 2016
Published in 2016 by WTM Enterprises.
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