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January 19th, 2017 under West Texas Talk » West Texas Talk Highlight
(Valerie Howard illustration) Richard Rorty and his crystal ball.

(Valerie Howard illustration)
Richard Rorty and his crystal ball.

The frightening truth about predictions


While I have often claimed the gift of prophecy, I also must note that I have also claimed the gift of intelligence, wit, and charm. Sometimes I discover something that is far more clearly stated than the mystical fog that sometimes surround so-called prophecy. Richard Rorty’s book does not claim prophecy but it is frighteningly prophetic.

In 1998, Rorty wrote, “Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers, themselves desperately afraid of being downsized, are not going to let them be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else. At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strong man to vote for, someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past 40 years by black and brown Americans, by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. All of the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.”

As analysis of the 2016 elections become available, it is certain that Donald Trump did not win with just the “angry white man” vote, he was the representation of the frustration that has built in our society for the last 30 years. Politicians of both parties have for too long ignored the increasing economic disparities that have seen the rise in everything Rorty points out in his book.

He discusses the evolution of liberalism in the 20th century. Until the Vietnam War, he states that most of the “old liberals” were people who believed in social reform through the haze of the Great Depression and later World War II. They were a pragmatic group who were willing to compromise on the road to change. With the advent of the Vietnam War, the “new liberals” were more idealistic and believed that compromise was a sell-out. I hope the Bernie Sanders campaign proves that there are today a new group of young liberals with a zeal for reform and a more pragmatic view.

After every major election defeat, there are those who say they are going to move to Canada. The night of the 2016 election when the outcome was obvious, a number of Canadian immigration offices were flooded with calls for requests for immigration information.

Immigration to Canada is a bad idea for two reasons; first, that Canadians simply are too nice of people to be expected to put up with us, and secondly, it’s a coward’s way out. Also, if too many of us show up in Canada they may start talking about building a wall.

While Trump claims he will build a wall against our southern border, many of my Hispanic friends who are American citizens are wondering which side of the wall they will live on.

This country gave up isolationism in the 1930s after it was determined that the policy was leading to the rise of Hitler and other fascist governments throughout Europe. Even before we barricade ourselves behind walls, Europe seems to be headed in that direction on its very own.

We should also consider the memorable walls of the past. The Chinese built the Great Wall of China and it didn’t work. The Romans lost Britain after they built Hadrian’s Wall, and we have news coverage of what happened after the Soviets built the Berlin Wall.


George A. Covington has worked in the fields of law, education, journalism and disability rights. He considers himself retired from every one of them with the possible exception of journalism. He is a graduate of the University of Texas schools of journalism and law. He moved to West Texas – Alpine – in 1997 after a 20-year career in Washington, D.C. where he once served on the staff of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Democrat) and shortly thereafter served as Special Assistant to the Vice President of the United States (Republican) 1989-93. 

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