Americans Want to be Overwhelmed

They wait to see what other people are doing before they do anything themselves. That way, they can be sure they are doing the right thing. Which is, by definition, what everyone wants to do – and are, in fact, already starting to do.

They must be skilled at reading their group’s intentions – and ruthless in carrying them out. The only question being “What group to follow?”

The answer is obvious – follow everyone.

This may seem like a strange answer – but for Americans it is natural, and they have no trouble sensing what it is. And then moving with the herd – wherever it wants to go.

I just downloaded Prisoners of Hope: Lyndon B. Johnson, the Great Society, and the Limits of Liberalism. After he outlined his plan for the Great Society, this historian says:

His Isaiah-like rhetoric was generally hailed as that of an authentic man of the people. In the wake of the martyrdom of John F. Kennedy and LBJ’s successful effort to push his predecessor’s domestic program through Congress and in revulsion at the extremist rhetoric of Barry Goldwater, the arch-conservative senator from Arizona, and George Wallace, the race-baiting governor of Alabama, the vast majority of Americans looked to Lyndon Johnson expectantly. The nation in 1964 was simultaneously confident and desperate enough to countenance talk of utopias.

The rest of the book describes how this did not work out. The herd didn’t want to go there. It was listening to other voices – destructive ones. And I saw for myself the result – the collapse of the American Dream.

Which Americans could not see, because no one else was seeing it.



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