When I was in college, one of my roommates had the old Nintendo Entertainment System. The game that we played the most was Punch Out. In that game, the first opponent you face is named Glass Joe. He’s pretty easy to defeat once you figure out that there’s a certain pattern of left crosses or right hooks or whatever that you have to do in order to hit him on the chin and knock him out. He has a glass jaw after all.
What has always stuck with me about the game is how it relates to the real world. The next opponent you face after Glass Joe is a guy (I don’t remember his name) who is immune to the attacks that worked against Joe. A person still giddy with victory after shattering Glass Joe inevitably employs the same punching pattern on his new opponent and he promptly has the win knocked out of him.
It seems to me that in our world we make the same mistake quite often.We need new approaches to the problems that we face. Things that used to work, don’t anymore.
Earlier today I read an article by R. R. Reno explaining why Ted Cruz’s Reagan-esque speech at the RNC didn’t resonate with the people. He argued that what we need right now politically is not a politic of freedom, but rather one of solidarity. Freedom rhetoric worked for Reagan, but doesn’t work now. Reno goes on to claim that only Trump is aware of this need for solidarity and so his rhetoric is really appealing to the American people at the moment. He claims Trump’s rhetoric is unifying because it creates solidarity among the Americans who are becoming more and more afraid of foreigners and “takers.”
I think what Reno said about freedom vs. solidarity is probably insightful and true, but I’m not sure that what conclusions you should draw from this.
Personally, I think Trump is an asshat and that the kind of unity he engenders and inspires is akin to that of Nazi Germany. I know it’s a foul to say things like that on the Internet, but I really don’t think he’s a good guy. I don’t think that America will be better off with him. I’m not really interested in debating whether America will be better off with Hillary. I don’t think she’s any good either, but I do think we live in a particularly troubling time. I don’t think the solution that we used to rely on (voting for the lesser of two evils) will work anymore. Consequently I think we need something new. Something along the lines of Nineveh’s response to Jonah’s message of repentance.
The times we live in are troubling–who would have ever dreamed that an 80-something-year-old priest would be beheaded at mass in France?–but they are the times we live in. I am heartened by Saint Thomas More who said “the times are never so bad that a good man can’t live in them.” I pray that I’ll be such a man and that whether a long, boring life or a sudden dramatic death is in store for me, I’ll be ready to go.