Decades … and Fearful

December 27, 2019

Decades … and Fearful


Mark Rubin

Forgive me for sounding old and crochety, please, but this decade thing torks me off. When people count off, they start with one and end with ten, right? Never, not ever, does a group start with zero and end with nine … except when we discuss decades, centuries, or … even worse, a millennium.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) does nothing for me, but I understand the inconoclastic perspective. For me, decades began with -01, -11, -21, etc. They end with -10, -11, and -20. So, the decades’ reviews leave me cold, plain and simple.

Numerical frustration aside, I know I’m fighting an uphill battle. The last millennium ended on 12/31/1999. I know because I attended a wonderful millennial party that evening, and no one did anything similar on 12/31/2000. Ditto for just about 10 and nine years ago.

Leaving aside how we measure, we measure. By the years and decades, we take stock. (As individuals, the aughts and fives count, even though they’re just more years.) So, I have lived in seven decades, and if I give in to the popular math, eight as of Wednesday, January 1, 2020. Lots of years and days: 22,750 days, as of this posting. And, whether a reckoning occurs now or in year, plenty of reason exists to assess things, large and small.

I read The 2010s Were the End of Normal by Michiko Katutani for the New York Times. Ms. Kakutani surveys very well the American condition. Nothing new exists under the sun—nativism, fear of the Other, paranoia, hypocrisy, and shameless thievery and dishonesty have all been a part of our past—but this time feels different. Maybe it’s like the frog in the frying pan, who used to exist in the pot of warming water. The heat is on, literally and figuratively! Maybe it’s the fact that Trump’s progenitors existed in a time of newspaper and pamphleteers, as opposed to Fox News and Twitter. Or, maybe, Trump really take us into a new realm. We can do incremental over and over to avoid the fact that … WTF, we’re effed!

David Brooks notes, regularly, that the Rs have lost repeatedly, in mid-term and special elections. He thinks Ds, fretting about four more Trump years, know nothing. Me? From your mouth to G-d’s ear, David, but I’m not so sure, at all.

Trump, the fatuous fool, looks mighty strong against so many top Ds. Joe B.’s got Hunter, and Bernie’s an effing Socialist. Liz Warren’s got her Pocahontas problem. Some Ds like Buttigieg, but not nearly enough to leave us confident if he’s the nominee.

That Ds can’t find a close to flawless candidate—someone, man or woman, in his or her 50s, with a track record, smarts, and no skeletons—leaves me cold. Our four leading candidates include three septuagenarians—two of whom we will celebrate 80th birthdays in office, if elected—and a 37-year-old, mediocre mayor of the fourth largest city in the 17th largest state in the nation. (South Bend is not one of the 200 largest cities in the United States of America.)

As we amble into the next decade—or the last year of the present one—I fear for our nation. And the world that depends on us, albeit less and less. Warren Buffett tells us we should never bet against America. He’s right, for no better bet exists! Still, as America fails itself and the world, optimism feels like a fool’s errand.

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