Guidance for an uncertain future.
The Airplane! Election
Like a parody disaster movie, but real.
From “red tsunami” to pink slime—what happened? The voice of pessimism rings out freely now across liberated Twitter, and its catchphrase is “it’s over,” it, everything, America. Yet it’s so easy to give up in practice because you’ve first given up in principle that the better observation, we think, is “it’s Oveur.” After all, the infamous captain of the almost-doomed passenger flight in the Zucker brothers’ comedy classic is, so to speak, is who won—the incompetent old sexually ecumenical groomer stealing one last drop of life force from the youth while the plane goes down.
Fortunately, America is far from a nation of Oveurs. What seethes beneath their leadership is, however, in some ways a still sorrier sight. Despite fierce efforts to find a capable passenger to slide into the cockpit, options have been limited, and barriers have been high. More and more Americans, regardless of political color, are in poorer and poorer health, mental, physical, spiritual, and cultural. The calamity of the covid lockdowns hardened perceptions that the battle for old-fashioned wellness had been lost. In its place arose only the soulless borg of the technocratic state and the fantasy-industrial regime designed to make it, and us, feel okay. One party says that new dispensation is Good, Actually; the other doesn’t but doesn’t quite know what to do about it. Americans watch out their windows as the airplane of state sheds another bucket’s worth of bolts, waiting for the passengers they’re trapped with to really snap and go crazy.
It’s not a totally humorless situation, but it can’t quite pass as entertainment the way the political junkies got us used to. The airplane can go on flying in its corruption, and us sinking ever deeper into decay as we go, for much longer than many dare think—a state of affairs very unlike the so-called “stagnation” we’re told is our problem. We are in a grind now, the sort of grind Americans feel deep down shouldn’t burden a people or a country as young as ours. But much as the atomic bomb floored the accelerator on Japan’s speedrun from a medieval to a postmodern civilization, we’ve been aged prematurely by our elites’ naïve and ignorant bet that the internet would blast us into a future where all of America was Disneyworld and all of the world was America. Our harsh blip from a cool teen civilization to a sunken-eyed screen-fried twentysomething is more than skin deep, and recovering a semblance of our earlier vitality will now be the work of centuries.
On the bad-guy side of the world, trauma like this is their bread and butter. “I, like many, had illusions about a quick war and victory,” recently confessed one of the U.S. Treasury’s Specially Designated Global Terrorists in Russia. “Now there is no indignation or strong emotions. There is a great deal of weariness from the war (I have been in it for too long) and an understanding that all this will go on for a very long time and I must conserve my strength. I very well understand people who are now sprinkling ashes on their heads and whining about ‘the beginning of the end’ (my limit for whining has long been exhausted), but I am tired of these people, too. We need a healthy fatalism and conscientious work by everyone in their place. If we die, fine; if we don’t die, even better. With God’s help, we will make it.”
Can Americans muster a healthier fatalism than this Russian extremist? Because the advice isn’t just good—it used to be the common wisdom of the West. We don’t get the luxury of buying the big lie that the globo-borg is America’s sacred democracy. Nor do we get the luxury of accepting the massive cope that the struggle against borgification is “over.” Our problem is we can’t live well singly or together trapped inside a hurtling machine of any size or sophistication. All the woke drag in the world won’t make the borg enclosed around us human, and it won’t cause that enclosure to make us well. Our job is to get us American humans down out of the airplane of the borg and back on God’s green earth where we belong.
Once we get down there, we’ll have room again to accept that the divides among us now run to the deepest level, touching the ultimate questions—and room enough to accommodate those divides without triggering a civil showdown. The borg, of course, demands that showdown—its mastery of the globe through mastery of America demands it—but for us Americans, especially in our ailing state, that would heap catastrophe on catastrophe. We would then learn the horror of truly premature aging on a civilizational, not just generational, scale.
The energy of the soul can never be replaced by the energy of the machine, no matter how many in our dwindling stock of healthy youths it consumes. The politics of the years to come is the politics of restoring human flourishing, and restoring the control of the machinery of rule to flourishing people, in those parts of the country where residents actually dare to take up this purpose. The bright spots in this sense are crystal clear. We are fortunate to have enough room there to build well. Protect those sanctuaries and take it from there. With God’s help, we will make it.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.
A conversation with Dinesh D’Souza about his documentary, 2000 Mules.