Our Colleges & Cultural Elites Won't Save US, These Americans Might: What the Forgotten Men and Women of the Country Now Need To Know - and Do!
Jerome Huyler, PhD
When asked what line of work I'm in I sometimes say, "I'm an intellectual. We promote the ideas that allow civilization to flourish and steadily improve the conditions of daily life for all.”
Essentially, free minds, men, and markets make true human progress possible. Of course, many intellectuals prefer to talk and write about other things. Just look at what's going on at the nation's colleges and universities. The men and women responsible for shaping public opinion evidently have a very low opinion of their country. That's a pity. For, it is our institutions of higher learning that inform a country's culture. The colleges send out the lawyers, politicians, judges, journalists, school teachers, authors, editorial writers, playwrights, Hollywood producers/directors/screenwriters, and influential celebrities. From all of these occupations come the books, movies, plays, poems, radio and TV broadcasts, daily news reports, and "educated" commentaries that tell people what's going on and what they should think about it. However, today's college students are being taught mostly about the country's many sins and shortcomings— past and present, real and imagined.
To be sure, not every academic is a confirmed critic of American culture. Conservative and libertarian scholars are also preparing their students for intellectual careers. Consider the 10,000 or so eager young scholars who attend the annual Conservative Union gathering in Washington, DC, known as CPAC. Many of them discovered the principles of freedom and free markets from the nation's notable think tanks, such as The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, The Foundation for Economic Education, The Manhattan Institute, The Independent Institute, The Atlas Society and the Ayn Rand Institute. All that has to count for something. But, all things considered, it may be no more than a few hopeful drops in the cultural bucket, a trickle too weak to impact popular sentiment or turn the country's course around.
But there may be another population with the power to put the country back on track and "Make America Great Again." They have been called the "forgotten men and women of the country." Having put Donald Trump in the White House, they are in a position to offer the President sustained support. He'll need it. If Donald Trump wants "to drain the swamp," you can be sure the swamp wants to drain Donald Trump. As we saw in the Senate debate over ObamaCare, its power to block meaningful legislative reform is awesome. The Washington's establishment types live high off the hog and will not willingly surrender their lavish lifestyle. Try as hard as he will, President Trump cannot do it alone.
The encouraging news is that in any revolutionary age, it's an enraged, engaged minority that holds sufficient historical force to forge success. The stout-hearted patriots who urged independence and marched off to war with George Washingtons made up perhaps one-third of the colonial population in 1776. And they were mostly farmers, not scholars.
Today, our nightly news coverage makes it seem like our college campuses are overrun with radicals protesting the nation's failings. But on any campus, the radical activists form but a fringe of the student body. Most students go to college to prepare for a chosen career. As for the humanities and social science courses they take, it's mostly in one ear, out the other.
The country's forgotten men and women need to stay politically alert. Their representatives must learn that all the campaign cash and PAC support the lobbyists and special interests can offer will not win them one more term in office. It's time to start showing establishment politicians of both parties the door and send candidates to Congress who will faithfully support this president's legislative agenda to (1) repeal ObamaCare and create a truly free market in medical care, (2) slash taxes for individuals and businesses of all sizes to encourage investment and economic growth, (3) drain the swamp where so many pocket-picking politicians plunder the public and reap personal benefits for the privilege, and (4) rebuild the military, intelligence and criminal justice systems to keep the country safe from all threats, foreign and domestic.
But who exactly are the men and women who need to be reached? And how can they be enticed to stay the course? Let us answer each question, in turn.
In 2016, the forgotten men and women were so forgotten that there wasn't a single national polling organization who troubled to tally their electoral preferences. The pollsters virtually declared Hillary Clinton the victor before the first vote was counted. They used to be called "the silent majority," and later, the country's "low-information voters." Millions thought it was their patriotic duty to vote, so they did. But they never really knew who or what they were voting for. Millions didn't bother to vote at all.
If the "forgotten" are apathetic when it comes to politics, their lethargy is largely driven by a deep-seated cynicism. They are disgusted by politicians of all stripes who plead for their votes and make and break promises for a living. American politics may be corrupt to the core, but as far as the average American can see, "there's nothing much anyone can do about it." If you want to know the truth, the country's forgotten men and women are really saying to their elected leaders: Forget You!
By 2016, the forgotten knew in their bones that the country was heading in the wrong direction. They were the folks who worked hard and played by the rules but were always falling behind and feeling they've been left behind: FORGOTTEN. Month after month, Donald Trump barnstormed across America, attracting huge crowds and pointing to what was wrong with the country and what needed to be done about it. It sounded like plain common sense. And he wasn't a politician, but an entrepreneur with a stellar history of making deals and getting what he wants to do done.
How can they be reached and persuaded to stay in the fight? There are four possible appeals that hold out hope. Let us consider each in turn:
(1) The Appeal to Principles (i.e., our founding principles)
Restore the founding principles and the country would be turned around. Americans would see how much of what government does today finds no sanction in the original plan of Union. Governments, after all, "are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, none of whom ever had a right to take away or give away what belongs to another. So the power to create winners and losers, to take from some to give to others is a power no lawful government would ever claim. Government was originally designed to be a PROTECTOR, protecting all in the enjoyment of what is theirs— their lives, liberties, and possessions. Government was not to grow into a PROVIDER. For once a people decide that some of its citizens have a right not to go out and get, but to lobby Congress and be given, it finds itself torn by two questions: who else should be given and how much should they all get? There is only one answer: POLITICS! Enter the Establishment and every special interest with something to GET from government and something to GIVE politicians addicted to the power their public offices provide.
Unfortunately, this particular appeal is not likely to yield many results. For one thing, the window of opportunity in which the appeal can be made is very brief, extending some 12 hours before and after each annual July 4th celebration. That is about the only time Americans pay homage to the founders and the documents they left on a young nation's doorstep. Beyond that, those founding principles are very abstract. It's not at all obvious how they relate to, say, ethanol or medical mandates, college tuition assistance, Section 8 housing subsidies, food stamps for the poor and hungry and routine public payments to businesses and farms, There are grounded connections, to be sure, but for the average American, they fly above the clouds.
(2) The Appeal to Pocketbook (now you're talking).
This appeal is far more promising and much easier to convey. When a neighbor or acquaintance complain about how tough it is to make ends meet, these days, I often say:
You know what's wrong? If you're paying upwards of 50% in combined federal, state and local taxes (and who isn't?), you're already HALF SLAVE/HALF FREE. It takes two incomes just to get by, right? That's only because one income goes to pay the tax bills that are devouring the quality of your lives. Why stand for it? How easier would life be if for every dollar you now send Washington you could keep 80 cents for yourself? Well that 80 cents is what the federal government, alone, takes from you in order to shower benefits on every special interest with the first claim on your life and productive labor. A mere 20 cents of every dollar Washington spends funds the national defense and criminal/civil justice systems that keep us all safe.
Today, there are many voices demanding relief from the heavy tax burdens we all bear. But just like the half-trillion-plus dollar deficits Washington rings up every year and the $20 trillion accumulated public debt that is already on the books, taxes are a symptom, not a first cause. That deeper cause is rampant public spending. In the end, there is no safe way to pay for a runaway Welfare State. And time is running out.
(3) The Appeal to Patronage
This past election season candidates on the Right and Left joined in exposing the way Washington Works. Donald Trump blasted the "Establishment," while Ted Cruz railed against the "Washington Cartel," and Bernie Sanders spat at the "millionaires and billionaires" who rig the system for their own private benefit. Nearly nothing drew cheers from the Trump crowds as his solemn pledge to "drain the swamp." The people can see that American politics is where counterfeit capitalists and every other special interest go to get special benefits at their neighbors' expense. And it's the forgotten people who must pay the price for that privilege. They need to be told that when Congress confers special benefits on SOME, it denies "equal protection under the law" to ALL. But corruption doesn't begin with lobbyists pleading for special favors; it begins with pols of both parties thinking they have the power to grant them. It's high time to send an army of Mr. Smiths to Washington to CUT programs and CLOSE agencies and bureaus by the bushel. Tell your neighbor: It's time to get government out of their pockets and off of their backs.
(4) Appeal to Pride
Though most Americans may be unacquainted with the principles upon which the country was founded, they are abundantly proud of the land they call home. Nothing proved that like their response to 9/11. Grief at the innocents who died that day had to be expected. A bloodthirsty demand for vengeance against any who aided and abetted the terrorist murderers can also be understood. But why the unprecedented display of unfurled American flags? There is an explanation. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, people tend to take the things they cherish dearly for granted. Only the sudden loss of the things we love cause us to appreciate how much they meant. Americans love their country and the rich bounty of liberty it has offered generations of visitors to these shores. 9/11 shattered what had been so casually taken for granted. On that day the country learned that if a people do not feel SAFE, they CANNOT FEEL FREE. American flags were the people's way of saying we want our country, our free and blessed way of life, back.
That is why so many Americans are appalled and disgusted by the "anti-American" canards coming from our academic precincts and spilling onto our TV and social media screens nightly. Political correctness demands that we beat ourselves up for our sins, past and present, real or imagined. America is charged, indicted and convicted of: "implicit bias," "unconscious racism," "sexism," "homophobia," "xenophobia," "white privilege," "income inequality," "rape culture," "rampant" police brutality (because only "Black Lives Matter"). To prevent politically incorrect influences from reaching their ears, college "daffodils" demand "trigger warnings" from their professors and "safe spaces" from unwanted thoughts.
What a nation believes about itself matters. National pride is to nations what self-esteem is to individuals. It is national pride, not guilt or shame, that keeps a nation strong and united. It furnishes the confidence and sense of worth that encourages further progress and improvement. The need to repel these terrible tendencies and restore a strong sense of pride in our nation could not be greater.
As Americans, we have an awful lot to be proud of. We may not keep enough of our earnings, but the precious "sphere of privacy" that allows all of us to choose where, how and with whom, we will live is as priceless as it is rare. Owing to all the thousands of lifesaving, labor-saving gadgets, appliances, and inventions that free minds, men, and markets created, Americans enjoy a constant improvement in the conditions of daily life - a condition unknown to any other place or period. Think of the miracles of modern medicine. Not long ago the aged would live out the remainder of their days in nursing home beds. Thanks to heart transplants, hip and knee replacements and pharmaceuticals for nearly every human ailment, today's seniors spend sunny days on tennis courts and golf courses into their eighties and nineties. It is all made possible by a body of law and a respect for individual rights never before experienced in the annals of human history. Beyond that Americans live under the firmest political checks and balances on aggressive power human ingenuity has ever devised.
But the facet of American life that is least appreciated and most impressive, is the simple goodness that greatness begot. A nation is as great as it is free. Americans, the freest and most prosperous became the most generous and caring people who've ever peopled the planet. Our people's capacity to come to the aid of the suffering knows no bounds. If you're old enough to remember the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, you probably don't need any further evidence than that. Americans give not out of a need to atone for some shameful guilt. Having availed themselves of the opportunities for success America generously offered, for most, giving is no sacrifice. Acts of kindness are usually born of justice, and the desire to ease the hurt of those suffering for fault of their own.
These are the four appeals that can move, not all, but many of the country's "forgotten" men and women to take a keener interest in their country and its politics. Reach out and touch them whenever you get the chance. Why should they get more involved in politics? Tell them: The clearest motive for civic engagement is personal self-interest. After all, we elect the men who write the laws which create the conditions in which we will all prosper or perish.