January 19, 2010

My God, What Have We Done?

Fellow Massachusetts voters! What was the point in electing Brown?

Coming back from a trip to the Far East makes you realize: this is an economic collapse from which we may never recover. The rest of the world has no need for America, and the world will not care a bit if the U.S. Congress spends the next decade in a filibuster. As our roads, schools, and industries crumble, Asia is standing ready to pick up the baton.

Voters here fell in love with Brown as he proudly drove around the state in his symbolic gas-guzzling GM Canyon pickup truck boasting about good 'ole American independence. Voters sided with Brown to thumb their nose at the wussy green, high-tech, international future. But a Brown vote was a self-destructive gesture of impossible nostalgia, a wish for a 1950 world that is gone forever.

Health reform may still pass. But after that, banking reform will be neutered until the next crash; green energy investment will be grounded until we run out of oil; and school reform will halt until our next generation is hopelessly lost against rising Asian genius.

Watching Massachusetts election returns is like witnessing the decline of the Roman Empire.

Posted by David at January 19, 2010 09:57 PM
Comments

I know observers will say that it's because Coakley ran an idiotic campaign and Brown ran a brilliant one. Or that the Massachusetts Democratic Party has long been guilty of nominating limpid candidates. All true, but that doesn't get to the heart of it.

Every voter here knew it wasn't about the uninspiring candidates. Everybody knew it was a vote for the future of Congress. It was a vote to stop Obama from trying to drag us into the 21st century.

Posted by: David at January 19, 2010 10:45 PM

Did you see http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/201001/american-decline ? I suspect people are voting for Brown as a vote against the sclerotic status quo of congress. Not that he personally will do much to change things.

Posted by: James at January 20, 2010 02:58 AM

James Fallows' essay hits the nail on the head. Thanks for the link.

More Americans should spend a little time overseas to see what is happening in the world. Take a train ride and go to the mall anywhere in Asia, or visit an elementary school or a hospital. You will not be able to avoid the signs of massive generational investments in Asia, the kind which happened in the U.S. before anybody alive was born. Asia is far poorer than us, yet investing far more in its future.

I do not view the rise of China with the same moral detachment as Fallows does. I do not look forward to a world economy that plays by Chinese rules, where a third of the world's citizens must register their movements with local security officers, where nothing gets done without a bribe.

Oddly, as the U.S. Senate sits around debating, the character of the world is what hangs in the balance. There are no marching troops or falling bombs, no Khrushchev "we will bury you." Just a creeping retreat of Western values from the world stage.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2010 06:07 AM

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