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An Angry Nation


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R. R. Reno

7 . 28 . 20

I snaked through the Delaware Water Gap and headed westward on Interstate 80, the lush green foliage spreading out before me. My object was to visit some friends and linger for a few days in the Midwestern states that tipped the outcome of the 2016 election. What’s the mood, I wondered?

After a few stops and conversations, the answer became clear. Nearly everyone I spoke with expressed frustration, anxiety, disquiet, despair. And anger, especially anger.

People are angry about the lockdowns. Religious folks are angry about the church closures. Some are angry about Black Lives Matter protests and toppled monuments. Still others are angry about the conservative movement, which they see as increasingly ineffective. Everybody is angry at the mainstream media, which they consider hopelessly biased. 


My sample of opinion was from the right side of the spectrum of American politics and culture. But people on the left side are clearly angry as well. Some are in the streets, angry about what they regard as systemic oppression of minorities. Columnists for the New York Times vituperate and condemn with regularity, a sure sign of heightened emotions among the liberal establishment, not just the radical left. And pretty much everyone I know on the left is enraged that Trump is in the White House.

The Chicago Board of Trade developed an index to measure volatility, the VIX. A high VIX indicates that investors perceive market conditions that make them uncertain, anxious, and fearful. After traveling through the middle of America for nearly two weeks, my strong impression is that our political-cultural VIX is very high. 

This means it is foolish to imagine we can foretell what will transpire in the next three months. But it does allow us to draw larger conclusions. The “market conditions” for our political arrangements over the last generation (and perhaps longer) no longer obtain. The volatility indicates the heightened possibility of significant realignments and changes. I won’t predict who will win in November, but I can predict that what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat will be quite different in a few years. It already is.



In Other Breaking News


This is Very Moist

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