I really like reading Peggy Noonan’s opinion articles in the Wall Street Journal. I find her to be smart and fair in her assessment of our society. Her article this morning was very interesting. The title, “Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected,” almost drove me away from reading the piece, but as I read her article I began to see the poignancy of her premise.
Noonan writes, “Last October I wrote of the five stages of Trump, based on the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.” I thought that was an interesting way of looking at this phenomenon occurring in front of us. Noonan continued, “Most of the professionals I know are stuck somewhere between four and five.” The professional world, which she later defines, is depressed because of the Trump phenomenon. Noonan argues that they are moving to acceptance, but I don’t think that is the right word, I think resignation is.
However, what caught my eye in this article was what she wrote next. “But I keep thinking of how Donald Trump got to be the very likely Republican nominee. There are many answers and reasons, but my thoughts keep revolving around the idea of protection.” What she wrote next reminded me of other writings I have devoured dealing with Marxist class struggle, but it may actually be closer to Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Instead of calling the protagonists Bourgeoisie and Proletariat she calls them protected and unprotected individuals.
She defined protected individuals as those who are “accomplished, secure, and successful.” She is not just describing wealthy people , she is dealing with the elitism associated with those who are protected from the world’s problems. However, the most poignant element of her definition was “they are protected from the world they created.”
Next she defines who the unprotected are. They are the people who live in the world and are affected by the policies created by the protected ones. As I write this, I am thinking about when I was a union member. When we went out on strike, union officials and management negotiators were paid their salaries, regardless of how long the strike happened (they were the protected), while those of us affected walked the picket line earning a minimal strike benefit (the unprotected).
Noonan continues to describe the unprotected as “one with limited resources and negligible access to power – you have absorbed some lessons from the past 20 years’ experience.” Noonan then discusses undocumented immigration as an example of how the protected doesn’t care about the unprotected; none of the protected need to deal with the issues of immigration because it doesn’t really impact them personally. So Democrat’s politicize the issues to make Republicans look bad, and Republicans are afraid of seeming liberal so they do nothing.
Another example she gives is in the area of education. The protected do not need to deal with the issues of education. Our public school system is erratic at best. Inner city schools do not get the resources they need, thus the children that attend suffer. The protected see the issues with the public schools in their neighborhoods and rather than stay and fight, they send their children to private schools. They don’t have to deal with it.
Why do you think Bernie and Trump are rising to the top? Because the unprotected is fed up! It is not that we are finally talking about issues that are causing this angst. Many people feel unrepresented and unprotected. “It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they are fortunate but because they’re better.
Noonan’s editorial reminds me of a recent Thomas Friedman article in the NY Times. In “Who Are We?” Friedman writes how he too finds this election bizarre. He identifies three sources of America’s greatness: “a culture of entrepreneurship, an ethic of pluralism, and the quality of governing institutions.” Additionally he notes how our leading presidential candidates are all trashing the three elements that made our country great.
Trump is spending his time saying that he wants to make America great again, but then he trashes the one thing that has made America great, immigration. All of us have family members who have come from other countries. Therefor, E Pluribus Unum, one from many, is our motto. When did we forget this and become the gangs of New York?
Bernie is spending his time bashing business, and for some reason young people in our country do not connect jobs and business. Friedman states, “I’d take Sanders more seriously if he would stop bleating about breaking up the big banks and instead breathed life into what really matters for jobs: nurturing more entrepreneurs and starter-uppers.” We need to remember where jobs come from. “They come from employers – risk-takers, people ready to take a second mortgage to start a business.”
Cruz, is attacking our government. He is spending a lot of time trashing Washington D.C. Don’t get me wrong there are many problems with our Federal government, but there are reasons why we have emerged as one of the strongest counties in the world. I totally agree with Friedman when he states, “America didn’t become the richest country in the world by practicing socialism, or the strongest country by denigrating its governing institutions, or the most talent-filled country by stroking fear of immigrants.”
What in the “hell” is going on? Have we all gone nuts? The protected is taking the Ayn Rand road of disassociation, telling the unprotected you are on your own. Let me tell you, there are many lessons from history that demonstrates what happens when the unprotected feels despair. I for one think it is time for the protected people to wake up and smell the roses. Instead of telling the unprotected to eat cake, lets figure out how to ensure our social protection systems are strong.
Let’s quit bashing what has made this country great and figure our how to adjust and stay great. As I stated in one of my previous blog posts, “A billionaire in New York made this comment, “I hate it when the stock market goes up. Every time I hear the stock market went up I know the guillotines are coming closer.”
And that is my thought for the day!