Ah, well; That didn’t work out so well.
Like too many others, the 1970’s were a mixed bag to him. My older brother graduated High School in 1973, the year Nixon folded the tents on the draft, so that wasn’t hanging over his head anymore. He noodled around for meaning in life beyond the rather dreary, daily, schlepping off to Community College later that fall.
Eventually, he earned a degree in Civil Engineering– six years, all in all– in between stints working on a state Highway maintenance crew, backpacking through rural England, sailing the Great Lakes, and so forth. All the fairly typical post-1960’s hippie stuff.
Then, despite having been verily steeped in the (rather commercially aggressive) counter-culture —Laugh-In, Mad Magazine, Jethro Tull, Dylan, Mother Earth News, and so on– my brother started to take a rather conventional route. He landed a job in the Pima County, Arizona, Road Commission as a staff engineer. He moved there from our home in Michigan with his girlfriend.
As I say, it didn’t work out too well.
The girlfriend was a standard-issue hippie conformist/individual type, complete with white-girl guilt about who-knows-what. She was a non-stop stream of grievances, despite having grown up in complete comfort as the only daughter of an MSU professor. She had a couple bumper-stickers on her hideously ugly, green-bean colored Volvo. I kid you not: “No Nukes!” said one, and the other said “Free Leonard Peltier!”.
All I really remember about her was, a) she was a good swimmer, and b) she yelled a lot at me brother.
But, she was, after all, the girlfriend. So, they did the late 1970’s non-married, Ink-Stains-Dried-Upon-Some-Line John Hartford routine, and moved in together. He took a very button-down job as a highway department engineer, she was (of course) a secretary at CETA.
Don’t remember CETA? Google it.
Well, it all went to heck in the fall of 1980. Mt. St. Helens blew up that year, and so do my brother and his girlfriend. Harry Randall Truman never evacuated his home on the side of the volcano that year, but my brother high-tailed it out of Tuscon. He left his girlfriend’s apartment on September 20th, 1980, and never looked back.
He later told me a fascinating little vignette about his journey back to my folks house that fall. I know now that he was simply an anxious young man, leaving his first real job after barely a year. He was scurrying home to Mama with his tail between his legs. All of his belongings were jammed into his 1976 blue Ford Pinto, and he had this bittersweet memory of rolling into Tucamcari, New Mexico in the early evening, having just listened to the Presidential Debates.
In those days, my brother had most of the superficial predispositions of a late 20-something in 1980: Carter was a bumbling, ineffective weakling– but, at least he wasn’t Reagan…
Reagan, that old, has-been joke of an actor, once sicked the National Guard on student protesters in California, and seemed ready to eventually nuke the world when he’d nod off to sleep one day on the nuclear button. Reagan was a joke, and a dangerous joke, at that…
…But, listening to the radio that night, leaving his girlfriend in Arizona in the dark of night like a Glen Campbell song, something happened. My brother was… persuaded.
President Carter, my brother said, sounded tired and defensive. Carter seemed to scold people, and Governor Reagan especially. Reagan seemed almost sunny by contrast –at least, on the radio in his Pinto that night, alongside the sour-puss Carter. Yes, Carter seemed to be saying, inflation sucks, but, hey, get used to it. Nothing can be done about it, president of both parties have tried. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing will fix it, not least of which is slash taxes, like Madman Reagan wants to do.
But, Reagan sounded more… engaged and, well, younger on the radio than Carter. “There you go again, Mr. President…” Reagan said. If you cut taxes, this give people more money to spend, which gives businesses more latitude, creates more lendable capital, which eventually wrings inflation out of the system. Creating government departments fixes nothing. Creating wealth fixes a lot.
And by the way, President Carter, Reagan told my brother: appeasing enemies only gets your embassies seized, and the communists set up shop wherever they want– from Nicaragua to Afghanistan to Angola….
It sank in with my brother, there, alone on I-40, with the Philco radio at an audible volume, and his Sears Dinaglas Tires humming along the pavement.
Reagan seemed to be smiling the whole time as he instructed little Jimmy about the realities of life in the newly arrived 1980’s, not the illusory vapors of a long-ago 1960’s. Jimmy was outmatched– in terms of facts, philosophy, and vigor.
My brother –who had a scant few years earlier created home-made screen-printed black-light posters for his ganja-smoking friends– switched world-views that night. It was embryonic, but it was a new beginning for him. In later years would come reading Whittaker Chambers, and Henri Bergson, and Bob Tyrell. And, he voted Republican that fall for the first time.
This sort of thing happens all the time: People grow, people move on, people introspectively reflect. Political philosophy isn’t carved in granite in the minds of every voter. We are a thoughtful, contemplative people. Just because 52.7% of people vote thus-and-such doesn’t mean they always will.
We just need someone to make the arguments, state the case, provide the facts.
This is what the Republican Election Complex will never comprehend: In order to make the arguments for liberty, and for freedom and personal sovereignty, you need an articulate, confident, believer in these causes to make the case. Millions of dollars of advertising soft-focus, low-varnish, high-concept commercials don’t move people. Solid, factual, authentic, confident, argumentation does.
[mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ] can’t make these arguments because he doesn’t believe them. Neither does John Ellis Bush, or John Kasich, or whomever. Many candidates can’t make the arguments because they simply don’t want to argue– they want to emasculate themselves prostrate in front of the voting public, saying what they think voters want to hear– for the ultimate prize of power. Thus we are treated to the spectacles of Mitt Romney and [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] and, to a certain extant, Donald Trump and [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ], [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] and Carly Fiorina.
Television ads showing American Flags fluttering in the breeze can’t paper over inauthenticity.
…and this is why [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] not only can win the Republican Nomination; one person at a time, one long road trip at a time. It isn’t particularly glamorous, or high-tech. It is appealing to reason, and logic and thoughtfulness– using shoe-leather and persuasion. [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] will be our next President.
He can –he will— win in November.