The Coming War (Opinion)
I’m evidence life isn’t predictable. In the summer of 2007, I was working as a casual employee of the United States Postal Service. Every night when I walked into work at a postal sorting and distribution center just before 10:00 P.M, I thought it might be the night I would die on the job. I was middle aged, washed up in broadcast media and didn’t appear to have any prospects for advancement in the postal plant. Then, 9 years ago this week, I drove a Penske truck filled with my belongings to Delaware and started working once again as a talk show host. Within a few weeks, I was standing at a political reception at a country club and chatting with Pete du Pont.
Four years ago, a former co-worker and I were sharing a morning coffee and he suggested I could likely retire from the radio station. Two years later, I was unemployed and had to quickly scramble to find income. I printed up business cards and found myself working on several political campaigns. Then, just before Christmas the telephone rattled and a fellow asked if I still had an interest in hosting a talk show in Idaho. I couldn’t recall initially expressing any interest in the job, but apparently I had while working on a campaign in Michigan. Michigan was almost as far west as I’ve ever been in life. There were two previous trips to San Antonio and one to Minneapolis. It made driving to Idaho an adventure, which I did one week after getting the telephone call.
I cite all these personal experiences because to a great degree it runs counter to conventional wisdom and expectations. Politics is subject to some of the same miscalculations.
This Labor Day morning, I was up early even as it’s a holiday from work. While driving to breakfast, I was listening to Glenn Beck. He was talking about a book written almost 20 years ago with the title of the Fourth Turning. It was a moment of serendipity because earlier this morning I saw the book linked at Zero Hedge. I read the book in 1998 when I was working in TV news management and when I thought I would always be working in television. I still have my copy and the predictions are all coming true. In this case, it seems conventional wisdom is reality when backed by historical facts. What is a turning? It’s a 20-year-period loosely based on the length of a new generation. The authors have looked back across 700 years of history among English speaking peoples and discovered every 80 years, the Fourth Turning, there is a great crisis. Eighty years ago, the Great Depression was leading into World War Two. Eighty years prior, the United States was careening toward civil war. Eighty years before secession was the American Revolution.
Over the course of this past weekend, the President of the United States visited Asia where he was insulted by a rising power and his staff was bullied. The new power is sending a message to the world. Asia is its sphere-of-influence. Meanwhile, Europe is in meltdown over a migrant crisis and nationalist movements are once again offering solutions. The world economy remains unstable. Does any of this sound familiar?
For the comfortable, there are warning signs. The unpredictability of the last 12 to 14 months is likely going to last well beyond Election Day and when it comes to dark times it can get much, much worse before it ever gets better. Is there good news? After a massive and large scale war lasting through the middle of the next decade, the survivors can again begin anew and with hope the next 80 years won’t be quite so predictable.