In one of the great scenes from the movie “Dr. Zhivago,” based on the novel by Soviet author Boris Pasternak, a young Bolshevik commander explains to the idealistic physician that “the private life is done in Russia. History has killed it.”
In America today, it also seems increasingly impossible to separate personal life from the political. In awards shows, sports broadcasts and fashion runways — which once provided escapes from politics — we find endless passionate anti-Trump protests and denunciations. Even corporations, like Under Armour, have faced opprobrium — and even boycotts — for daring to support Trump. Nordstrom faced a possible boycott for carrying a now-canceled fashion line of his daughter, Ivanka.
Increasingly American politics are driven by generational change. The election of Donald Trump was not just a triumph of whiter, heartland America. It also confirmed the still considerable voting power of the older generation. Yet over time, as those of us who have lived long enough well know, generations decline, and die off, and new ones ascend.
America is increasingly a nation haunted by fears of looming dictatorship. Whether under President Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” rule by decree, or its counterpoint, the madcap Twitter rule of our current chief executive, one part of the country, and society, always feels mortally threatened by whoever occupies the Oval Office.
American greatness was long premised on the common assumption that each generation would do better than the previous one. That is being undermined for the emerging millennial generation.
For most of recent history, the world has worried about the curse of overpopulation. But in many countries, the problem may soon be too few people, and of those, too many old ones. In 1995 only one country, Italy, had more people over 65 than under 15; today there are 30 and by 2020 that number will hit 35. Demographers estimate that global population growth will end this century.
In often needlessly harsh ways, President Donald Trump is forcing Americans to face issues that have been festering for decades, but effectively swept under the rug by the ruling party duopoly. Nowhere is this more evident than with immigration, an issue that helped to spark Trump’s quixotic, but ultimately successful, campaign.
Many Americans are clearly upset about an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and many also fear the arrival of more refugees from Islamic countries. Perhaps no issue identified by Trump has been more divisive.
“From the Beginning, California promised much. While yet barely a name on the map, it entered American awareness as a symbol of renewal. It was a final frontier: of geography and of expectation.”
— Kevin Starr, “Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915” (1973)
Perhaps nothing has made modern progressivism look sillier than the often hysterical reaction to the election of Donald Trump. This has spanned everything from street protests, claims of Russian electoral manipulation and even reports of sudden weight gain and loss of sexual interest. Rather than become more introspective in the face of defeat, the bulk of left-leaning media and their intellectual allies have embraced the notion — even before the new president proposes anything — of following what UC Berkeley public policy professor and former U.S.
Perhaps no president in recent history has more pressure on him to perform economic miracles than Donald Trump. As someone who ran on the promise that he could fix the economy -- and largely won because of it -- Trump faces two severe challenges, one that is largely perceptual and another more critical one that is very real.
To start, Trump must cope with the widespread idea, accepted by much of the media, that we are experiencing something of an “Obama boom.”
In 1949 the historian Carey McWilliams defined California as the “the Great Exception” -- a place so different from the rest of America as to seem almost a separate country. In the ensuing half-century, the Golden State became not so much exceptional but predictive of the rest of the nation: California’s approaches to public education, the environment, politics, community-building and lifestyle often became national standards, and even normative.
Across the country, white voters placed Donald Trump in office by a margin of 21 points over Clinton. Their backing helped the GOP gain control of a vast swath of local offices nationwide. But in California, racial politics are pushing our general politics the other direction, way to the left.
Like a child star who reached his peak at age 15, Barack Obama could never fulfill the inflated expectations that accompanied his election. After all not only was he heralded as the “smartest” president in history within months of assuming the White House, but he also secured the Nobel Peace Prize during his first year in office. Usually, it takes actually settling a conflict or two — like Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter — to win such plaudits.
Surprisingly, the modern focal point for postfamilial urbanism comes from eastern Asia, where family traditionally exercised a powerful, even dominant influence over society. The shift toward post-familialism arose first in Japan, the region’s most economically and technologically advanced country. As early as the 1990s sociologist Muriel Jolivet unearthed a trend of growing hostility toward motherhood in her book Japan: The Childless Society? –a trend that stemmed in part from male reluctance to take responsibility for raising children.
It certainly seems as if boomers are in charge in America now, with Donald Trump about to move into the White House and members of the generation in the majority in Congress. Meanwhile, huge attention has been paid over the past few years to the emergence of the boomers’ children, the millennials, on the national scene. But relatively little thought has been accorded to the group sandwiched between the two mega-generations: Generation X.
When Donald Trump described the “devastating” conditions in America’s inner cities, emphasizing poor schools and lack of jobs, he was widely denounced for portraying our urban centers in a demeaning and inaccurate way, much as he had been denounced previously for his supposed appeal to “racial exclusion” when he asked black voters “what the hell do you have to lose” by backing him.