In the misty and dank recesses of my 53-year-old brain, one of my earlier memories is of my mother –then 42, now 89– conducting a letter-writing campaign to CBS, raising wholly hell about the crocheted dress Judy Collins wore on the Smother’s Brother’s Comedy Hour.
“That they would broadcast that during the family hour is horrible!” she said, as she primly typed her letters on the Smith-Corona. How quaint: “The family hour“… Tsk, tsk. Her letters have likely been in the Fresh Kills dump since before I entered first grade.
Fast forward 40 or 50 years…
Well, now the REPUBLICAN (!) party nominee is caught (pardon the pun) apprenticing a young Billy Bush (who?) upon the many virtues of stardom: “Grab ’em by the…”
How did we get here? HOW DID WE GET HERE?
It’s been a tiresome, plodding march the last number of decades, but, more or less, this is what happened:
The Church stood down in the face of dwindling attendance and a fairly illusory social upheaval. Milquetoast –and worse– was served from the pulpits, men and women of honor were now more worried about being labeled a hypocrite than a heretic or sinner.
How can you be a “sinner” if “sin” is only in the eye of the beholder?
Corporate America, as is it’s wont, appealed to the baser elements. “Base“, after all, always outsells “Honor“. Soon, “Close Up” toothpaste was hocked extolling its “Sex Appeal”. The “Pepsi Generation” was apparently limited to young ladies with perky boobs, and young men in Ban-Lon staring at them and drooling like faucets. As with the Smothers Brothers, Mom was aghast at the full-page Tampax adds of the girls in white slacks straddling phallic-shaped playground equipment.
Oddly, though, “Expletive Deleted” in the high spring of 1973 drove Richard Nixon from office. “Grab ’em by the pussy” isn’t even an automatic disqualifier in 2016. To my recollection, I don’t remember Howard Baker trekking up to the White House to defend Nixon as an “Alpha Male” for swearing like a longshoreman in the Oval Office.
But, like I say, it’s been a tiresome and plodding march into the swamps of marketplace ethics and moral decline.
So, my mom wrote letters. Moms across the country did likewise, were ignored, and here we are. What a bunch of up-tight, outta-sight suburbanites.
The collapse of the church (not the “meetinghouse”; the church) was only one rest-stop on the road to October, 2016. Somewhere in the there, it was decided that paying vast armies of people to do nothing had somehow become a moral imperative. “Working for a living” lost its luster to “retired at 55”, or “I’m in the Jobs Bank”. If it made sense for soldiers in the Army to retire after 20 years, why not school teachers and janitors at the county garage? Wasn’t their sacrifice as great?
Most of the Oldsmobile employees who hired on after the War could retire with full benefits after 25 years, and -even though Oldsmobile has been gone for nearly two decades now– there are four times as many retired GM employees than working ones. The Gravy Train was merging with the Soul Train. It was becoming a silent, perfect storm.
Ever wonder why Barack Obama was so intent on “saving” General Motors? He was only interested in bailing out it’s retirement fund, and keeping those UAW retirees happy. And voting “democrat”.
We started looking more and more at government as a deliverer of the goods, rather than the keeper of the peace and the arbiter of the social compact. It is no accident that our Presidents tend to look more like salesmen than pastors, even though the constitution is neutral on the matter.
Yep. It may have been a tough slog, but it’s only a few small steps from “Elvis the Pelvis” to “Making America Grope Again”. But, hey, isn’t it dull over there in Squaresville? You know, that place where the little girls are safe in the public restrooms, and we don’t break a sweat wondering if a boy should be the keeper of the pronouns “Him” and “His”? Yep, it sure is dull.
And who wants to be dull, when being Liberated and Chic and Hip are so much more enticing– and gets you better press?
Until it doesn’t.
The stump-toothed morons in the backwaters of Deliverance Land aren’t to blame for Donald Trump.
By our slouching and our silence: We are.