What’s next?

Michael Barone:

It was 76 years from Washington’s First Inaugural in 1789 to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural in 1865. It was 76 years from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Going backward, it was 76 years from the First Inaugural in 1789 to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which settled one of the British-French colonial wars. And going 76 years back from Utrecht takes you to 1637, when the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies were just getting organized. As for our times, we are now 71 years away from Pearl Harbor. The current 76-year interval ends in December 2017…

we are as far away in time today from victory in World War II in 1945 as Americans were at the time of the Dred Scott decision from the First Inaugural. We are as far away in time today from passage of the Social Security in 1935 as Americans then were from the launching of post-Civil War Reconstruction…

The original arrangements in each 76-year period became unworkable and unraveled toward its end. Eighteenth-century Americans rejected the Colonial status quo and launched a revolution, then established a constitutional republic. Nineteenth-century Americans went to war over expansion of slavery. Early-20th-century Americans grappled with the collapse of the private-sector economy in the Depression of the 1930s. We are seeing something like this again today.

We’re certainly hurtling towards the end of something. A crack-up is in the air. It’s obvious that emulating the decline of western Europe at warp speed is not a viable strategy. But each day brings a new set of imbecilities. Take the guns issue. We live in a country of 3 million square miles with 300 million firearms owned by 50-100 million households, all protected by the US constitution. With all that, there have been only a small number of mass shootings in recent decades, and, exempting certain minority communities, the rate of gun violence in the US is comparable to Europe. Yet it’s in the news 24/7. The end of something seems nigh. (We only hope that in the coming migration, people leave their loony ideas where they came from.)

3 Responses to “What’s next?”

  1. Jamie Says:

    Barone, and perhaps you, should read The 4th Turning. The idea of and 80 to 100 year cycle, or saeculum, is thoroughly explored.

  2. MarkD Says:

    The continued faith in the people and organizations that have created these problems is puzzling to me.

  3. Steve Y. Says:

    There’s something mystical about 76 years, the approximate life span of a human being and the wait between visits from Halley’s comet. Personally, I’m waiting for an explanation from Al Gore, inventor of the internet, global warming expert, Nobel winner, near-President, and business mogul who sold a losing business for hundreds of millions of dollars. Al will make sense of all this.

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