thin ties with piano keys

7/10/05

I’ve been wondering lately about the permanence of American moods; i.e., how long are we going to suffer through this redneck fight-or-flight America-first conservative hoo-hah before the great unwashed masses get sick of it and move on to something else? The current pace of fear-mongering in this country is exhausting, and if history teaches us any lesson, it’s that a hard fad’s gotta die.

We were talking about America’s moods on an email list the other day, and here’s a few I came up with:

Americans’ interest in WWII: 1941-45 (4 years)

Cold war nuclear holocaust fears, Part I: 1955-1963 (8 years)

Hippie movement: 1965-1970 (5 years)

Disco: 1975-1980 (5 years)

Cold war nuclear holocaust fears, Part II: 1981-1986 (5 years)

Internet boom: 1996-2001 (5 years)

Jingoistic terror-obsessed conservatism: 2001-?

Given the attention span of Americans en masse, it seems like we can only stomach a “movement” for around 5-6 years before we move onto something else. Of course, in the middle of such a movement, you can’t ever imagine it ending (like Rubik’s Cubes in 1981) and even now we can’t see our way through the fog of Bush’s “War on Terror.”

But these things must end. There will come a day, even after more spectacular suicide attacks like 9/11 and the London bombings, when most ordinary Americans will realize that while Death will kindly stop for them (apologies to E. Dickinson), they probably won’t die today, or even tomorrow.

The duct tape will grow moldy in the basement, and even the exhortations of our crazy President can’t work them back into a lather. Keeping up a good “bunker mentality” takes a shitload of work. Perhaps there will come a day when the chickenhawks, the anchors on cable news stations and AM Radio pundits will have masturbated us one time too many, leaving us raw, chafed and unable to perform the way they like.

The fact is this: humans adapt. Terror attacks will eventually lose the edge they once had. It’s already happening in social microcosms like the stock market; after an initial drop due to the London bombings, the Dow actually closed higher by the end of the day.

There’s a couple of caveats here, of course – if we’re attacked by a biological agent or atomic weapons that kill hundreds of thousands, then we’re in a whole new ballgame. Also, if we manage to elect a President as chuckleheaded and swooningly reckless as Bush again, we could be looking at decades of this shit.

But if all goes as planned, mark your calendars for 2007, when the tectonic plates of this country’s mood swing away from the current mouth-frothing terror-mongering, and onto something else. I’m not saying it won’t be something else equally as stupid, but it will something new, another pair of pants for this country to try on. Let’s hope it’s better than the Rubik’s Snake.