Conservatives have it right about the importance of maintaining healthy private and local lives, especially in times of political upheaval.
Now is a good time to take a vacation from political news, amid the chronic craziness of the launch of the Trump regime, which is not “conservative’’ but a personality cult brought into power by the willful suspension of disbelief so common in America’s Celebrity/Television/Social Media Culture.
Take comfort in knowing that the worst of Trump’s promises are unlikely to be implemented and that, anyway, he doesn’t really have any coherent ‘’program’’ other than staying at the center of attention, expanding his family’s wealth and influence, and being applauded by his core constituency, assuming that it doesn’t evaporate as the extent of his election-campaign con job becomes evident even to them.
The steady disclosure of his lies and hypocrisy will be oddly comforting because they will demonstrate that Donald Trump is no ideologue. He’s mostly just a rich narcissist, materialist and demagogue who, in his search for adulation and validation, may do some good things. After all, he is terrified of being labeled a “loser.’’
Mull life’s transience, its cycles of growth, decay and regrowth, and the little pleasures that help make it worthwhile. And realize that the older you get, the faster time will go by. The Trump administration will soon be over.
To retain or regain your equilibrium after this bizarre election, focus on what you have around you in that blessed place known as private life. First, your family and friends, even those you’re angry at because they voted for Trump. Try to repair your ties to them if they are frayed. White House occupants come and go, your personal circle ought to continue as the most important part of your life.
Participate in those local institutions that do so much good, for you and your community, and in which you can do some good. These include clubs, charities, religious organizations, schools, libraries, parks and so on.
Alexis de Tocqueville famously wrote about the special importance in America of community organizations for a healthy civic life: “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.’’ Liberals, and the citizenry in general, place far too much faith in government, and especially the federal government, as a source of happiness.
Even worse, they invest far too much hope in, and assign far too much praise and blame to, one person — the president.
Now let’s give thanks for American federalism, even though its Electoral College has put a sociopath in the White House. Federalism means that, however awful the government in Washington, the states are free to go their own way to some extent.
A bad president and/or Congress remind us of the dangers of an overly unitary national government and of the benefits of geographically diffused powers in the world’s most complicated country.
Focusing on what you can change locally will give you a stronger foundation from which to push for national change. Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: “A man is a better citizen of the United States for being also a loyal citizen of his state and of his city; for being loyal to his family and to his profession or trade; for being loyal to his college or his lodge. ‘’
As the nature of Trump’s administration becomes clearer, even to many of his gullible and corrupted fans — join those national projects — political or otherwise — that might help stem Trumpist abominations while remembering that he raised some socio-economic issues that need to be addressed, although he is unlikely to seriously address them himself.
And, as conservative columnist George Will wrote a couple of months back: “The beginning of conservative wisdom is recognition that there is an end to everything: Nothing lasts. If Trump wins, the GOP ends as a vehicle for conservatism.’’
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Robert Whitcomb is a former editor at The Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.