The day after Mitt Romney gave his speech, Jon Stewart went to town. It was a typical Jon Stewart exercise, replete with out-of-context snippets, juvenile sarcasm, and endlessly bleeped obscenities. One part of it, though, the very first part, stayed with me. If you watch just the first couple of minutes of the video below, you’ll see Stewart make fun of Romney’s statement about the way American people have traditionally looked to the future:
Romney: “We Americans have always felt a special kinship with the future.”
Stewart: “Yes, yes, yes. We Americans, uniquely among Earth’s people, move forward in time.”
Nothing could more perfectly illustrate the differing ways the two parties think about the future.
I understood exactly what Romney meant. Americans feel a special kinship with the future because they believe that their current actions will affect the future and make it better. And indeed, the American trajectory has proven this believe to be a truism. Through vigor and innovation, we’ve achieved measurable improvements in food production, health car, mobility, shelter, clothing, entertainment, communications, etc. And that’s not just comparing us to American life one hundred or two hundred years ago. You’ll get the same result — continuous quality-of-life improvement — by comparing us to American life just twenty years ago. We work hard, we think creatively, and we make life better.
This sense of possibilities has been part of the American mental landscape forever, although it wasn’t until modern media that we were able to capture this optimistic sense of the future. Nothing was unthinkable or un-doable.
Americans imagined a fashion future:
They saw exciting travel possibilities:
And they envisioned clean, comfortable, labor-saving homes:
That last clip was a Disney clip, and this is no coincidence. More than any figure in popular culture, Walt Disney believed that America was on a continued upward trajectory, one that saw our lives getting better and better. He didn’t see rich plutocrats living high on the hog, while the poor provided the necessary Soylent Green. Instead, Disney believed that, in his own lifetime, Everyman’s and Everywoman’s life had improved in a way never before seen in history, and he further believed that the American personality was such that nothing could stop this trend.
Disney put these core beliefs together in his Carousel of Progress — which for me, as a child, was the absolute best part of Disneyland, even better than the rides. I too believed that things could only get better:
And lest you think everyone looks to the future in this way, think again. The Egyptians were perfectly happy to live a relatively unchanged life for 3,000 years: same clothes, same food, same agricultural economy, same housing, same form of worship. There were, of course, small changes over the centuries, but nothing that resembled the changes America has experienced since 1776.
This holds true for large parts of the third world. People live as their ancestors lived for hundreds of years before. We go and, with our modern 21st century digital cameras take pictures — they are so picturesque — and then we return gratefully to our air-conditioned cars and hotel rooms, our hot running water, our washers and dryers, and our clean, healthy food. Even Europe can be stultifying for the American traveler. Because it raises money by looking old, nothing can change.
So yes, Mitt is right that Americans have traditionally believed that the future isn’t just the day after tomorrow, and then the day after that, ad infinitum. Instead, to Americans, the future is a real place, one that builds on the past, but that offers infinitely more.
The Democrats also have a vision of the future, but it’s not a greater future, it’s a lesser future. On the one hand, there is the coming Apocalypse, one that will see half of the earth under water and the other half a parched, Sahara-like desert. Billions of the world’s citizens will crowd this desert, choked by filthy air from factories and cigarettes, and desperately trying to force genetically modified Frankenstein-plants to grow in the barren land. That, they believe, is the American trajectory.
The other hand offers the only way to stop this Apocalypse: Americans must turn their back on the future and revert to the past: a past with limited transportation abilities; primitive food production, free of scientific or mechanical intervention; no air-conditioning; no modern medicine; no defensive weaponry; and, most importantly, no people.
So, while Mitt Romney spoke explicitly to Republicans about the Republican view of the future, Democrats, with their abortion-fest, are offering an implicit vision of their future. It’s one that sees American thriving by subtraction not addition — and the fastest form of subtraction available is abortion. To Democrats, children aren’t the promise of the future; they are, instead, the promise that the future will be destroyed.
Perhaps I’m irresponsible, but I like the optimism that characterizes the conservative belief in the future. Looking at the world through Democrat eyes and seeing a future that is a barren rock or primitive hard place, makes life meaningless. Honestly, the best thing you can do is go out and kill yourself, so that your intellectual superiors can delicately seed an empty land with their own progeny.