Peggy Noonan cuts to the heart:
People in politics talk about the right track/wrong track numbers as an indicator of public mood. This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we’re on the right track as a nation. That’s a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it’s all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.
Now I’d go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.
Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing.
She then runs down the list: The GSA scandal, the Secret Service scandal, the soldiers posing with body parts scandal, the YouTubes of the tourist getting beaten in Baltimore while passersby laugh and the woman crying as she’s being felt up by the TSA.
In isolation, these stories may sound like the usual sins and scandals, but in the aggregate they seem like something more disturbing, more laden with implication, don’t they? And again, these are only from the past week.
The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective.
Something seems to be going terribly wrong.
Could it be cultural breakdown, a state in which there is no longer a sense of community that exerts any kind of social pressure to do what is right?
What do you think? And is there any way to restore a sense of civilization and character? (Politics will clearly not do that, since it provides so many more examples of this crisis of character.)
HT: Doug Reynolds