ARTICLE BY LENA LESZINSKY
Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, facts and liberalism were trusted. Everyone was educated on the issues, and now people just listen to the strongmen of their countries and are all uneducated heathens. Oh, but for the good old days!
Although…our seventh president appealed to the common people, and was not as favored by the Washington environment. Andrew Jackson, a great president (because of his expansion of presidential power) and a horrible, tyrannical man (because of his slaughter of Native Americans and his infamous Trail of Tears), was definitely populist in his appeal to Americans. This is the guy who invited the crowd at his inauguration into the White House with him (and, man do I wish I could’ve been there for that party). He was smart, for sure—but he hid it behind his “everyman” appeal.
There were more, of course. William Jennings Bryan was actually a legit populist. George Wallace derided the liberal elites (and that far-fetched idea called integration).
And who could forget McCarthy? He was the farthest thing from credible and factual, but he managed to prey on our disproportionately large fears of the good old Soviets and destroy our nation’s sense of internal safety.
Nigel Farage wanted the Brexit. Bernie Sanders wanted down with Wall Street. Trump seems to want down with the liberal world order we’ve been putting together since the Marshall Plan.
But this was coming. There have been too many documents released about the cover-ups of government—famously, the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Snowden, and more. Distrust of the government has been growing since the mishaps of Vietnam, and has been bred in America’s sons and daughters and now is coming to a great and roaring head. We don’t want anything to do with those factual, know-it-all liberals—because since when have they helped us?
And liberals like to argue back, “well, factually, life is better under us.”
But then there are legitimate reasons to be against the establishment. A hatred of being talked down to, told “vote for us, we have a plan, and I can’t exactly explain it because it’s too detailed for your little minds.” A reliance on anecdotal evidence that leads to recall bias, and a world view that is pessimistic beyond reality. Watching Wall Street rise up as your real wage decreases. There are reasons to hate those elites that don’t seem to care about your interests, but rather the interests of George Soros and the Koch brothers.
Politics seems to be returning to the era of the slogans, of the “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!”, the “Cross of Gold”, the “I Like Ike,” the “Make America Great Again.” So what will the liberal, educated elite do to grab back hold of the populace, if not with their own slogans? Who knows?
What if they don’t? Francis Fukuyama predicted the end of history in a 1992 book titled The End of History and the Last Man. He thought that the liberal world order post-Soviet Union would be our final stage of human evolution and development.
On a related note, psychological studies have noted that, when asked, people say they’ve changed tremendously in the past ten years of their life. Whether they’re fifteen or fifty, the answers remain the same. But when asked about the next ten years, they estimate they’re not going to change that much. They’ve reached their final stage of human evolution and development. This, of course, is a false bias.
Maybe we will return to the rule of the liberal elites in a couple years. Or maybe UKIP and the National Front and the Alternative for Germany parties will gain their control and a right-wing populism will seize the West. Either way, politics and international relations seem to be at a tipping point, and whichever way we go is to be decided by our leaders—and the activity (or inactivity) or the world’s citizens.
But we’ve not stopped developing. Our society hasn’t stopped evolving. Winter is coming—and we’ve yet to see whether it’ll be icy cold…or globally warmed.