Here’s a pretty decent list, from several perspectives, of books whose quality went largely unnoticed in 2016. Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts did not escape my eye, but I have been reluctant to buy it, mostly because of its large size. A silly prejudice, to be sure, one I’ll eventually get over.
I’m struck as I read the various recommendations how sad the British literati continue to be about the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States. Such people need to get over that, too, and I hope 2017 will afford them the opportunity to do so. It was, after all, merely an election, not necessarily an eternal refutation of liberal ideas. North America will survive Donald Trump as surely as it survived the worst President we’ve ever had, Warren G. Harding. As an economic conservative, (i.e., one who says, “Don’t spend more than you take in”), I am even hopeful that the next four years will be better financially for the aggrieved groups the Democratic Party usually appeals to than the last eight years actually have been.
What the election was a refutation of is the idea that collectivism is a universally-shared spirit and the solution to all our problems. It isn’t and it’s not, as the long experience we’ve had with the collectivist societies in Russia, in Cuba, in China, and in eastern Europe amply demonstrates. It really doesn’t “take a village” to raise a family or solve a social problem. It takes a set a parents committed to doing the job, and an employer rich enough to hire and pay workers to perform necessary labor and spread their disposable income into their neighborhoods to fix the problems that need fixing. Those problems are almost always local in nature; the federal government is designed to assist with the largest of them, but that is all.
What this rather tightly-packed argument means is that America succeeds, every day, in spite of the President of the United States, not because of him. This is not a statement of disrespect; it is the truth. The things that get done in this country get done because of the work we do in our neighborhoods, and the love we show to each other and to our children. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have nothing to do with it. And I’ll tell you something else: we can be smartasses all we want and blazon Will Ferrell-inspired bumper stickers on our cars that say “NOT MY PRESIDENT,” but the truth is that Donald Trump is our President, just as Barack Obama was. We don’t have to like the man or woman who sits in that chair. We don’t even have to like each other every day of the week. But we do have to work together, not just to solve our problems, but to build our country. As divided as we are, every one of us wants to see our children educated. Every one of us wants to see the sick made well. And every last breathing one of us wants to feel that he and she is a part of the republic we live in, that we have a stake in what happens here, that we have a voice that helps decide how events shall go.
The truth is, all of us ARE a part of that republic. All of us, down to the last soul, have voices and we have used them to remind our fellow citizens that we are here, and that we must not be ignored.
Evidently, Britain feels that we will tear ourselves apart with bickering. We won’t. But we do need to stop that bickering. It’s petty. It’s childish. And it prevents us from doing the work that needs to be done. I don’t know how it is where you live, but around here, there’s part of Highway 290 that still isn’t finished yet; there’s a hospital that needs some final touches next year; there’s special education that’s needed by thousands of students all over Texas; there are jobs outsourced to Mexico costing us millions that need to be brought back across the border. It is time for the adults in the room to step up and do what genuine adults have always done: make decisions that are based on the general welfare of the people, and get the work done. Our national government was deliberately limited two hundred fifty years ago: we cannot expect much help from them–some money, perhaps, but little else. That means what it has always meant. It’s up to us to do the work and create the society we want. That labor, and the loving distribution of wealth which comes from that labor (the gifts of time and money we give to our neighborhoods, the parties we throw, the items we buy), almost always flies under the radar. Nobody sees it but us. Yet, if we’re doing it right, everybody eventually feels its effects. No one keeps us alive but us. The means to live may be provided by any number of organizations. But it is we, and only we, who decide how to use those means; who decide, in fact, what life is.
Be well this holiday season. Love each other. Reach out to those who need your help. And remember that what you do makes a difference in the lives you touch, even when you can’t see that difference.