There’s some truth to what you say. I wish there was more. However, it’s overly optimistic, IMHO, to expect a basic feature of human psychology to wither away. Nostalgia for an imagined time that never quite was is, I think, a normal human feeling. I used experience it when I was 4, though I couldn’t have told you what I was feeling nostalgic for. Many times in the past, and I’m sure many times in the future, some charismatic lout will encourage people’s fears and raise the hope of returning to some fictional, halcyon past*, leading very often to mayhem. (e.g. WW2) I think this feeling is reinforced by the knowledge that, for each one of us, there comes a time when decline becomes the salient fact of our lives. Unless we’re knocked off in an accident.
While there may be some “progress” (apart from, say, the relatively new ability to kill all of us off in short order), I have seen the pendulum swing both ways during my life. No doubt it can be helpful to push for something better than what we have now. But if we don’t bear the swings in mind, it’s going to be exhausting when something slides backwards for a while.
BTW, I think there should be another word for the kind of extremely regressive politics we see in some quarters. Yes, you can probably point out a continuous spectrum, but eventually the quantitative change becomes a qualitative change. Red becomes infrared.
That brightness in the tunnel could be the sun, or it could be a train’s headlight. We don’t know.
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It’s absurd when people on the right claim there’s been a huge drift toward the left, when for decades there was a steady, though inconsistent, swing in a regressive direction. Ms. Clinton, or Mr. Obama, for that matter, would have been considered moderate Republicans when I was younger. Nixon had his own health care proposal.
It’s also absurd to pretend that politics, as practiced by the right OR the left, isn’t all about selling false hope with only a little bit of the real stuff mixed in.