The classic American road trip is a great experience for a lot of good reasons. More than the core of great novels and movies, it’s usually a journey of inner discovering and bonding and so much else all at once. At the core, however, is one undeniable lesson – this is a truly vast and amazing nation.
The best measure of how stuck in a rut this nation have become is how much that obvious fact has been forgotten. I promise you that the United States is bigger than you or I can ever possibly imagine. But to listen to today’s media or politics of any kind you’d swear that this nation is weak, fragile, and small.
We need a road trip. Short of that, let’s take one in our minds.
Mary Tyler Moore died on Tuesday at age 80. She was a remarkable person in many ways and truly groundbreaking as a cultural icon for an entire generation. It’s almost hard to understand just how important her work was, however, because she did it with such cool professionalism and care.
When James Garner died in 2014, I reflect on how he defined what it meant to be a man for me as a child. It is only fitting that I do the same for Mary Tyler Moore, who introduced me at the same age to what it meant to be a woman in today’s world. It was at least as important, if not much moreso, in shaping who I am as a person.
What will it take to Make America Great Again? A big part of it, at least in terms of the public show, is the creation of manufacturing jobs. Of the four words in MAGA, the top two appear to be “America” and “Make”. It’s a noble effort all around, without a doubt.
But can this be done as a matter of policy? Can we turn back evils like bad trade deals and force the products which are consumed in America to be made in America?
Two stories from the opening daze of the Trump administration demonstrate just how unlikely this effort will be. Indeed, it’s entirely possible to cause more damage than good in many ways.
After the inaugural, some 3.7 million people took to the streets to protest the new president, or about 1% of the entire population. A dust-up ensued over how many attended the main event the day before, generally estimated at 0.5 million. Popularity is important in an era of perception, so the arguments over this are not going to stop soon.
More important than perception, however, is the immediacy of tactics. No one marching in protest believed anything is going to change immediately, but that was both the main point and beside the point. The marches are for nothing more than to hold on, to stop change, to paralyze. It’s not actually a strategy but a tactic.
We live in a time where actual strategy does not exist and there are only tactics – the raw emotions and gains of the moment. Nothing is actually going to change until that does.
Today is the big day. An new era full of uncertainty starts with the inauguration of Donald Trump.
God save the Republic.
I firmly believe it is critical to take the long view on this, since we are about to settle in for what is likely to be a tumultuous four years. We will have to pick our battles, declare victory where we can, and always keep our eyes on the prize. For this reason, and to keep our sanity, the wisdom of the ancients should be a primary source of comfort. Today’s readings are from the Tao Te Ching, as translated by Stan Rosenthal.