I am reminded of the America First Movement, that I studied in American History so many years ago. The Movement was created in 1940 to keep America from getting involved in World War II. The movement was mightily opposed to doing anything to help Europe at all. It was all about self and self-protection and true isolationism. Lindbergh, JFK, Gerald Ford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lillian Gish, and so many more, hated FDR and didn’t trust him at all to make any decisions that might be favorable to the U.S. population of the time. This was a hugely polarized time in America and not unlike the polarization of today, where Trump (even without the real track record of a Charles Lindberg) is the admired and trusted leader of so many. Biden comes in as FDR. Pearl Harbor settled everything, of course, and the America First Movement dissolved overnight. Lindbergh even knew about the persecution of the Jews in Germany but didn’t care. These are those times, and maybe all rough times for humanity are like this, although communications have allowed us all to see and know more about it. Many people, not necessarily the majority, do not want to hear anything…and many times these people haven’t even gotten what they have by hard work or any of that. It does not seem to matter. Some people get ahead and then stay ahead by keeping everybody else from equaling or bettering them. This culture is not a meritocracy by any means and it’s unlikely that any other human society is either. It’s taken 3.5 million years, or so, for humans to come down from the trees and become the civilizations we identity with today. 3.5 million years of constant beating each other back.

The development of the human endeavor has been so slow, not because of resistance from without, but because of competition and resistance from within. Petty, small, and mean-spirited doesn’t even begin to describe the length and breadth of it. FDR so hated Lindbergh that he wouldn’t even let the great flyer be in the military to serve during the war! Today, we have the Trumper’s playing the part of the America First people. It is not that they don’t like other people, in general, it’s that they don’t much care about other people outside of their much smaller and more limited ‘tribe,’ if you will. Is that a bad thing? Not so much as it is a small-minded thing, because there are more Pearl Harbors out there waiting to be visited upon us. America First can so quickly become America Last without cooperation and preparation. The US is running the world. It didn’t really want to but there’s the reality…and if the US decides to stop running the world then somebody else will certainly step up to do the job.  In the meantime, the country citizenry as a whole, regardless of geographic location or party affiliation, should be appropriately fearful, as the current leader of this world as we know it moves from the 6th of January to the 20th of January at High Noon.

Watching the slow death of newspapers across the nation is hard to endure and would be hard even if I did not publish a newspaper of my own. The papers grow smaller and smaller, as the Covid has shrunk advertising and therefore revenue. The staffs are smaller and the material less plentiful and well written. There’s usually nowhere in Lake Geneva to buy a Chicago Tribune or New York Times or even a USA Today. They just aren’t there. The places that usually sell them don’t have a clue. What’s wrong with getting the news on television? It’s beamed and streamed. There’s no ability to browse. Like how lousy Amazon is for looking for books instead of a bookstore. No browsing. Does everyone skim the television stations for anything of interest, other than row after row of basically uncredentialled talking heads one after another? Doesn’t matter. You get the same marching current of ‘news’ delivered like chunks of ice flowing down the expanse of a narrow river. With a newspaper, you can flit about and read what you want, skip what you want to come back to it later, read in-depth or just cruise on through articles. Then there’s the crossword, obituaries and so much more. Online? Who the hell wants to go there? The news sources have managed to limit the stream of news on their Internet sites like they’ve done on television. So, we must all persevere, hoping that 2021 will become a building wave of applied intellect, recognized, and shown talent, and much, much, more. Here’s to the New Year and America Together, not first or last and not caring about it.

~~ James Strauss

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