Possibly not many Americans are feeling detached in a week such as this one, but Victor Davis Hanson writes that by and large detachment is the usual state of a growing number of Americans. These are the people who move to quiet communities in the West or to non-income states in the South.
More withdraw with their minds, by shutting out most of the noise emanating from American popular culture, politics, and the media.
Hanson calls these people who have withdrawn Americanus alienatus and sums them up this way:
The American stranger embraces a pessimistic view of this country, rather than the therapeutic view shared by most Americans. Given the nation’s cultural and financial profligacy, he assumes things are going to get worse. Or at least he accepts that they cannot go on as they are. The medicine (that will fall on him to administer) will be as catastrophic as the lethal disease (which he thinks was caused mostly by others).
Stereotyped as a “deplorable” “clinger” and “everyday American,” the stranger certainly has no wish to dispute the new politically correct orthodoxies of open borders, Black Lives Matter, the euphemisms that mask radical Islamic terrorism, record deficits, unsustainable entitlements, and chaos abroad. All of that, he believes, is now the concern of the members of the coastal establishment, whose incestuous lives are glimpsed in the latest WikiLeaks trove.
. . .
The turned-off know well enough to keep quiet about political correctness. They accept that just one wrong word can at any time end careers as a clerk, cop, or teacher. The disaffected also still trust that college is a future investment for their kids, but have no clue how to pay for it. They are also unsure how to weigh the pluses of receiving a bachelor’s degree against the minuses of being indoctrinated by a small, bitter subset of the population.
The quiet American is also cynical. He expects elites to be pretenders. The hacked emails of insiders Colin Powell and John Podesta, and Hillary Clinton’s $250,000 Wall Street chats confirmed what most believed about low-bar Washington values. Trump’s eleven-year old hot-mic vulgarities rebirthed Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults, reminding the cynical that in the age of Miley Cyrus, Chris Brown, and Kim Kardashian, America is both crude and sanctimonious at the same time.
The quiet American was once devoted to televised sports, but increasingly is losing interest there as well. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refuses to stand for the national anthem on the ground that America is racist, hardly represents speaking truth to power. He is another pampered multimillionaire athlete who has manipulated his sport for personal attention and gain. The alienated American also avoids ESPN and similar sport channels. He believes that life is too short to listen to half-educated jocks posing as Socratic philosophers as they politicize their analyses and try to turn gladiators on the field into heroic progressive humanists.
The media, contemporary politics, sports, Hollywood, popular music, government policy, political correctness, the pretenses of the elite—all of these have driven a sizeable minority of the population into a psychological underground. Every once in a while, I see the alienated American, who gives me a nod or wink at the supermarket or gas station—a confirmation that he has become a stranger in his own strange land.
I urge you to read the entire essay.