Stranger in a Strange Land

According to an IPSOS/Reuters poll a majority of Americans feel out of place in America as it is today:

More than half (58%) of Americans don’t identify with what America has become. Almost as many (53%) feel like a “stranger in their own country”. This sense of loss is particularly pronounced when we look at party identification: while 45% of Democrats don’t identify with what America has become, a whopping 72% of Republicans don’t. Trump’s populism speaks to this real and emotional sense of economic and cultural displacement.

You’re more likely to feel that way if you’re old and white. Guilty on all counts.

I suspect that the reasons for my dissatisfaction may be different from those of many who feel that way. I’m unhappy with an America that’s always at war. I’m unhappy with an America in which the top 10% of income earners earn such large amount of the total income and possess such a large amount of the wealth. I’m unhappy with an America in which ordinary people see their lives as always being on the brink of disaster.

I’m uncomfortable in an America in which the nuclear family consisting of a man, a woman, and children is viewed as anything other than the norm. I’m uncomfortable in an America in which college students, rather than demonstrating for free speech, are demonstrating for restrictions on the speech of others.

26 comments… add one
  • jan

    I am discouraged with the rhetoric that has taken over this country. Emotional exaggerations are fueling both the left and right extremes, taking over the public discourse as well as how domestic and foreign realities are being interpreted. Consequently, everything goes through deliberately constructed political filters before it’s distributed to people for their consumption, and finally their reactive support/vote.

    No wonder everything seems backwards or out of place these days!

    For instance, having the first bi-racial president, has not promoted a closing of the racial divide, as one would have assumed back in 2008. Instead, we have the opposite — a more racially divided country, suspicious and contemptuous of those with different skin colorations from their own. MLK’s “content of character” theme has all but disappeared into the woodwork of Ferguson-like events and the current nullification of free speech that’s erupting on the Campuses of Ivy League schools across the country — go figure!

    Entrepreneurship is also being vanquished under oppressive government regulations. However, dependence on greater government is exponentially growing, deepening class fissures and fiscal problems responded to under social progressive policies — policies that supposedly advocate for the poor, but are really shrinking economical opportunities, while enlarging a permanent underclass of people.

    Truthful information being disbursed by governmental sources, promises, sound statistics has failed almost every reality-based litmus test. It’s no longer about honest representation, or the long-term well being of this country. Instead, what’s stressed is political savvy, operatives who successfully downgrade opponents, gain the upper hand in our media, and teasing people into believing “you are the one” and only savior around to salvage the country.

    That’s why you have this stranger in a strange land sentiment arising. But, even more than feeling like a stranger, I think people are feeling uncomfortably disenfranchised from the fundamentals embodying the creation of an alternative way of life, hundreds of years ago, called America. In essence we are reverting back to what so many ran away from…..

  • ...

    The other day I realized we don’t need to sweat the college students. Today’s young Social Justice Warrior Against Freedom is just tomorrow’s permanent student loan debt slave. Except for the ones at Yale and Harvard, they’re going to discover sooner rather than later that they’re completely worthless.

    As for the feeling of alienation… I’ve been writing of this for some time, although I’m not sure how much of it I’ve put here. This simply isn’t my country any more. Not my circus, not my monkeys. Due to a lifetime’s habit I’m having trouble adjusting to this fact, but a recent trip to the movies down at Disney World (in which crowds I was almost the only person that spoke English as a first language) led me to an epiphany. I’ve felt an alien here for some time, but it has been an intellectual thing. That night it hit me as an emotional fact. Suddenly I understood one of my friend’s strong desire to permanently move to Thailand. If one is going to be a stranger in a strange land, better to be so in a land that doesn’t pretend to be home.

  • Gray Shambler

    Does anyone here know, where first, and by whom, and for what reason the B.S. mantra arose “diversity is our strength”

    This sounds of the same genra as “Arbeit Macht Frei”

  • ...

    Stuff like this probably helps keep the natives restless:

    America’s Got Talent judge Mel B faces axe as panel has NO US judge for next series

    I’ll also note that America’s alternate news desk has been manned first by a Canadian and then by a South African. Of course, despite all the fuss the show isn’t really popular, but there ya go.

  • Ken Hoop

    Have you noticed , with Trumpism, “nativism” and “America Firstism” is being associated by the msm with hawkish interventionism on behalf of Israel and the m-i complex generally?
    The real America First movement dissolved after Pearl Harbor.
    I certainly hope 9-11-2001 hasn’t become the long term Pearl Harbor, cause the US has lost a couple since then. And will continue losing on that trajectory.

  • jan

    Does anyone here know, where first, and by whom, and for what reason the B.S. mantra arose “diversity is our strength”

    While I don’t know the etiology of that phrase, I would pair it with the one cautioning that “too much of a good thing” can also be bad. In the case of a country, if there is too much diversity, where can you establish a working middle ground, or better yet a consensus?

    In my S. CA ‘hood,’ for instance, there is a large house looming near the front of the street. It’s painted periwinkle, fuchsia, and maroon colors in the front, with olive drapes hanging in the window, while the sides are a deep pumpkin hue. Needless to say, it stands out with a glaring individuality — some saying it adversely effects the hominess and property values of those living near it. This invites the question, is the ability to exercise such a radical departure from the tastes of others fair, in lieu of the costs to the ambience of an entire neighborhood?

    This same question might be asked in a larger cultural context of a Washington Post story posted today. It describes how a demographic shift from primarily Polish to Muslim has effected one community in Michigan.

    Hamtramck’s exceedingly low home prices and relatively low crime rate have proved especially attractive to new immigrants, whose presence is visible everywhere. Most of the women strolling Joseph Campau Avenue wear hijabs, or headscarves, and niqabs, veils that leave only the area around the eyes open. Many of the markets advertise their wares in Arabic or Bengali, and some display signs telling customers that owners will return shortly — gone to pray, much in the same way Polish businesses once signaled that employees had gone to Mass.

    Many longtime residents point to 2004 as the year they suspected that the town’s culture had shifted irrevocably. It was then that the city council gave permission to al-Islah Islamic Center to broadcast its call to prayer from speakers atop its roof.

    This led me to wondering how I would feel should the air space around me to be suddenly filled with public speaker calls to prayer, five times a day. Placing such diversity considerations in your own front yard might make one more susceptible and open to the idea of a “refugee pause” that is now on the congressional table.

  • PD Shaw

    I’m at DisneyWorld and I only speak English. The number of educated multi-lingual young people here manning resort desks is incredibly high though. I hope they’re happy, because I suspect they are not paid well.

  • ...

    PD, I was among the crowds at the Disney Village (or Disney Springs or whatever they’re calling it now) on a Sunday evening in September. I didn’t even see the typical older white couples at that time. If anything it felt like a sunny version of some Philip K. Dick story. It was the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen at that scale. Seemingly endless amounts of Hispanics, East Asians & South Asians, very few whites, and I think only two black people.

  • steve

    Meh. A lot of this is nostalgia for an American that never really existed. Or one where you ignore the problems. That said, I still believe we have passed our tipping point and a two tiered society is inevitable. The wealthy now own the media and the politicians. Oligarchy is inevitable.

    On the nuclear family, I wish it were the norm again, but would you be willing to pay the price to have it back as it was in the 50s? Divorce almost impossible to get? Women having no career choices so they had to be married? No birth control so that a pregnant woman had to get married?

    As to war, it is hard to find a period of more than a few years in a row when we have not been involved in some military action somewhere. Granted, pre-emptive war is unusual in our modern era.

    Steve

  • ...

    Excuse me, five blacks. I saw two working there on the way in, and a family of three heading into the parking garage with me on the way out. Do you know how weird it is to be in a large public crowded space down here and hardly see any black people?

  • A master of the tertium non datur. Are there no alternatives other than the polar opposites of making divorce extremely difficult and a drastic reduction in the marriage rate with a concurrent rise in the divorce rate?

  • ...

    Divorces weren’t nearly impossible to get in the 1950s. Not going to do this on my phone, but the data is out there to be easily found.

  • Andy

    I agree with the dissatisfaction reflected in the polling. For a while now I’ve had this sense that a major social crisis looms – one with the potential for significant social and political change. I think we are overdue.

    Ice, a couple years ago we had annual passes for Disney – the crowds seem to vary substantially by season. The summers have a lot of Americans and Europeans, particularly from the British Isles. The spring and fall have a lot more from Latin America and Asia. Winter is kind of weird.

    But if you want a lot of American white men, then go on a Gay Day – I’m serious.

    PD, hope you’re having fun with the family and didn’t get too much rain this weekend.

  • ...

    The weirdest thing I’ve ever seen at a Disney park, by far, was two white people. One girl was leading another girl around with a leash & a dog collar. That was Disneyland, summer of 1996. Right in the middle of the afternoon! Actually, that was the second weirdest thing. The weirdest was that no one else seemed to notice. If my wife & her family hadn’t seen it too I’d think I’d hallucinated the episode. But apparently that was pretty normal for SoCal.

  • Guarneri

    Meh. Absolutist and straw man arguments, aka pure crap.

    Drew

  • Ellipsis:

    In 1950 about 30,000 divorces were granted and U. S. population was about 150 million. That compares with 870,000 divorces granted in 2010 for a population of 300 million.

  • CStanley

    @steve- Dave is right, your argument presents a false dichotomy. Reminds me of Chesterton’s fence- progressives tear down the old institutions that have flaws without stopping to think what function the institutions served. Why can’t we work to mend fences instead of mindlessly demolishing them?

  • steve

    LOL. How do you put the genie back in the bottle? We know how to make divorce uncommon. It worked, but at a cost. The absence of a suggestion on how to make it better suggests we don’t really know how to do it. The social conservative thinks returning to faith will do it. Pie in the sky.

    We can nibble around the edges by getting rid of the war on drugs, but now that we have birth control and easy divorce we are not going back to the divorce rates of the 50s.

    Steve

  • TastyBits

    When nonsense becomes normal, a point has been reached, and either things will tip or inflect. Progressive nonsense can never support itself, and it always fails. Normal liberalism propels the country forward.

    The fall of 2015 will be when Progressivism died, but it will take a while for Progressives to realise it.

  • jan

    Government officials have become nothing but a cabal of liars over the last few decades. Progressives love to point to GWB’s foibles and misinformation about WMD (lies), but there is nary a catch in their breath when examining their own officials who regularly surround themselves with misguided stats, information, interpretation of policies and more recently how they appear to have molded intel to fit their national security bubble of advisers’ rationales.

    It’s pathetic!

  • Andy

    Not to be nostalgic, but over the last several decades well-intentioned liberal notions of progress diminished traditional forms of authority and social cohesion – parents, churches, communities, teachers, etc. and didn’t replace it with anything. Technocracy and state social services cannot substitute.

    Divorce was part of that. Those who used to be called conservatives lost and yes, they don’t have any solutions since most became radicals. What are the liberal solutions? More of the same?

  • steve

    “Divorce was part of that.”

    What part would you undo? The pill was a big part of it. No fault divorce. Women entering the work force, and not just as nurses and teachers. Women going on to higher education. Which one of these progressive changes would you turn back? I suspect none. As I said, we paid a price in the past that enabled the nuclear family to be the norm.

    Of course we should also recognize that part of the change is also due to lower paying jobs. A man could earn enough in most jobs that the wife didn’t have to work. A lot of that was the prevalence of union jobs. I don’t think we can honestly blame the loss of union work on progressives.

    Steve

  • Andy

    It’s not about undoing anything, but about change things for the better. Equality when it comes to divorce is a good thing. Taken in isolation, it seems pretty obvious that women should equally suffer the benefits and consequences of marriage and divorce and it’s certain they were not equals in that regard in the 1950’s.

    But the changes didn’t simply result in more equality in terms of divorce. As one example, marriage is de facto reduced to a legal and financial union that can be dissolved like any business partnership. One result is a lot of poor single mothers who were easily abandoned – easy divorce works both ways. The state cannot fill the gap.

  • TastyBits

    A lot of the problem is that males no longer are expected to be men. A man is expected to get and stay married, provide and protect for his family as best he can, and be a little rough around the edges.

    The pill, no fault divorce, women working in traditionally male jobs, women earning more than their husbands, and women going to college will not alter this in any way.

    What has changed are the attitudes of acceptable behavior. Just because you can do something does not make it right.

    The same attitude is not limited to social norms. It is also applied to business and financial norms. Whatever is best for business is best for the consumer. Cheap financing is best for the borrower. Universal home ownership is a noble goal.

    LOL. How do you put the genie back in the bottle? We know how to make divorce uncommon. It worked, but at a cost. …

    The costs were far greater than you can possibly imagine. Welcome to the world you created and never complain about the rich getting richer. You were the catalyst.

  • steve

    “A lot of the problem is that males no longer are expected to be men.”

    In a lot of the country men are still expected to be men. Not everyone lives in California. Guess what, they have high divorce rates also in “real America”. Remember that it goes beyond divorce rates. You are also looking at lower marriage rates as well. Women don’t need to get married to be supported. Not all home ec majors anymore (though still common in the evangelical homeschooled).

    Steve

  • Women don’t need to get married to be supported.

    In addition the observed preference of women for “marrying up”, the greater availability of jobs for women, and the decreasing availability of “traditionally male” jobs limit the pool of acceptable potential spouses for many women.

    The problem is that preferences and social behavior change a lot more slowly than the laws or the economy.

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