"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Sad Tale Of Edgar Sommers, The Last Progressive In America

Edgar Sommers was a thoughtful, dutiful, and thoroughly engaged man - a good man, one dedicated to principles and purpose, and one never tempted by irrelevance. That was for lesser men, and ever since he had been chosen for service, he had never once demurred.  The fate of the world was simply far too important for desultory interest. 

He was a member of Americans For Concerned Environmental Action, The Southern Conference for Racial Equality, the League of Professional Women, and many others.  He had walked with giants, tended the sick, fought the right battles at the right time, but now, horribile dictu, the time for social justice was coming to an end.  

As unconscionable a thought as that might have been a decade ago when progressivism was in full flower, and when its advocates and supporters were everywhere in the land in a Je seme a tout vent existential miracle, something had happened.  The oomph had gone out of the movement, the fire out of its loins, the passion, the desire, the absolute rabid righteousness gone with the wind. 

It had to do with Donald Trump, his first and second victories, and the seditious spread of viral conservatism, but the movement had continued increasing, multiplying, and splitting as fast as a chick embryo until it had become the ethos of the nation, a unifying principle, a political oneness.  How could this be, wondered Edgar as he saw the bastions, fortresses, and embankments of progressivism eroded by successive waves of radicalism? 

One by one the shibboleths of liberalism were falling.  Confederate statues were re-erected, forts, streets, and schools renamed for Southern heroes; the Black Man's notice of racial and cultural supremacy removed, the transgender movement stunted, redirected, and consigned away. Biblical injunction replaced Lacanian exegesis.  Churches were built on a monumental scale, Chartres and Notre-Dame replicas, stone books of the new religious age. Raw enterprise, industrial laissez-faire, and the law of the marketplace displaced communitarianism, compassionate consideration, and the redistribution of economic wealth. 


Edgar remained in Washington, almost alone, awash in a sea of conservatism, gasping for air in an atmosphere of me-first, whites-only, male idolatry.  He was still among his claques and shills, squads, caucuses, and crews but he felt the tide ebbing.  Soon he and his brothers and sisters would be washed far out to sea.  

What had happened? How had the heady vision of Utopia faded so quickly, tarnished by insult and innuendo - 'falsity, claptrap, Dodoism'.  It was a time of insular patriotism, xenophobia, and Mighty Joe Young primitivism.  No one seemed to want even the crumbs of what Edgar and his fellow reformers had worked for for decades.  It was every white man for himself, lord of the manor, patriarch, pasha, and grandee. 


It wasn't so much that conservatism had made a comeback after so many years in the anterooms of power as second fiddles, acolytes, intellectual drifters, and lost boys. Conservatism had become the ethos of the land.  Where Edgar and his like had been championed in years past, progressives were now paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue like slaves to the new Emperor.  He was a voice crying in the ever-widening wilderness. 

Glitz and glamour were in.  Comfortable, broken-in shoes were replaced by Italian leather; and rumple gave way to silk suits, cheap chic, and the Las Vegas, sequined look. 

Americans scrambled for it all like Jews at a wedding buffet, so much to eat and so little time.  It was a cultural grande bouffe of major proportions.  There was no polite bites of the salmon mousse and Quiche Lorraine, but a wholescale gourmandize of the pastrami, lox, and bagels. 

Edgar was blindsided.  He should have seen it coming with the successive conservative victories following on the Trump presidencies.  President after president came from cracker- and MAGA-land, the bayous, backwoods, and cypress swamps and sagebrush of America.  Conservatism became no less the secular religion that progressivism had.  Right and wrong were filtered through a political prism.  A new litany of God and country was recited as often as race, gender, and ethnicity had been in Edgar's day.  The turn of the screw, what goes around comes around, the Dawn of a New Age. 

Progressive numbers dwindled, but Edgar's staying power was still intact although fraying at the edges. His commitment had never been deeper or more intense; but whereas in the past he would have been attacked and censured for his political fantasies and obtuse intentions, now he was laughed at.  He had become a clown, a freak, a bearded lady, a dwarf.  

Yet he felt himself still Jesus on the Potomac, the savior, the prophet, the Chosen One.  Cassandras have always been ignored, so be it.  Cultural heroes must ride insolently above the herd, Nietzschean Supermen, God's anointed; and so it was that this, the last progressive in America, kept his footing till the last. 


Of course the end did not come quickly, but slowly and painfully.  Give me 'a soldier's death' says Marcus Aurelius to his assassins.  It was hard for Edgar to watch the conservative juggernaut, a new Sherman's March to the Sea, a Genghis Khan-like sweep from east to west until the entire country was under its yoke. 

Of course Edgar was disingenuous at best, naive and credulous at worst.  He of all people should have seen the revolution coming.  Liberal progressivism, a nouveau political philosophy based on European deconstructionist idealism, Socialist cant and Communist inspiration could never take hold in the Wild West, Robber Baron, Gunfight at OK Corral individualism of the United States.  Hippies, free love, communes, and the let-it-be ethos of the Sixties were not the avant-garde of the new America, but a sorry aberration. 

So Edgar rattled on until he was too old to stand, bullhorn in hand, fingers on the Internet, on the pulpit, the podium and at whistle stops; but he was increasingly a cartoon figure, a distorted side show escapee.  Progressivism had had its day, and it was pitiful to see this poor old codger hanging on with his nails. 

There were Trumps galore after the real Donald Trump.  His show was just the beginning.  America had finally had enough of the Left's cant and faux logique and looked forward to generations of burlesque, vaudeville, and big top governance. 


As far as Edgar was concerned, there were plenty of old people's homes around where he could spend his final years with like minded troopers - a kind of veterans lodging - and go out with fond memories of the way it was.  Only occasionally when news of the new conservative president filtered into the game room did Edgar wonder if it all was worth it.  That is, if decades of tireless effort, good will, and serious commitment to a righteous cause could be swept away in one fell swoop, how important could it have been?

Not at all said the young conservatives who were were no sitting in his chair.  Not whatsoever at all. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.