Of all places, in a British crime novel there glimmers a clue for the American conservative movement to build upon in rescuing this Republic’s destiny.
Now in her 89th year, England’s unsurpassed mystery writer retains in her current novel her wonderful way of embedding priceless nuggets — of language, of intellectual insight. That would be P.D. James and the work, "The Private Patient" (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008).
One of those gemstones is of prescient application to the United States as it girds for a new, unproven, risky presidency. No surprise. This is, after all, a nation that owes its cultural origins to hers.
Before one of the characters is murdered, most foully, Baroness James has her reflect on those origins: “ This is where I came from, these are my people, the upper working class merging into the middle class, that amorphous, unregarded group who fought the country’s wars, paid their taxes, clung to what remained of their traditions.
“They had lived to see their simple patriotism derided, their morality despised, their savings devalued. They caused no trouble. Millions of pounds of public money wasn’t regularly siphoned into their neighborhoods in the hope of bribing, cajoling or coercing them into civic virtue.
“If they protested that their cities had become alien, their children taught in overcrowded schools where 90 percent of the children spoke no English, they were lectured about the cardinal sin of racism by those more expensively and comfortably circumstanced.
“Unprotected by accountants, they were the milch-cows of the rapacious Revenue. No lucrative industry of social concern and psychological analysis had grown up to analyse and condone their inadequacies on the grounds of deprivation or poverty.”
Though not identical, the British and American middle class, more specifically “the upper working class merging into the middle class,” still share so much.
Despite the prattle of Barack Obama’s incoming liberal-left administration about its belated intentions to champion the middle class, this “amorphous, unregarded” group remains as the novelist stated: amorphous and unregarded.
Amorphous, because Obama himself could never in his presidential campaign make up his mind where the middle class ended and became the wealthy whose taxes he was going to raise.
Unregarded, because the loser, John McCain, was inept in forming an effective alliance with the besieged middle class.
The next vice president, Joe Biden, never convinced anyone, let alone members of the middle class, that he, in his stately Delaware compound, had actually been one of them all along.
Only the losing vice-presidential aspirant, Sarah Palin, and her accidental, de facto running mate, Joe the plumber, spoke the middle-class language with believability. It came too late in the game.
Given this economic slough of despair, and the gathering threats from abroad, Obama and Biden are unlikely to waste time allying themselves with the middle class. They view life from the perch of what they really are — the privileged.
They are too financially indebted to, and ideologically imprisoned by, political interests who reap the rewards of spending other people’s hard-earned treasure. They are committed to swelling the ranks of voters accurately identified in the novel as beneficiaries of taxes milked from those who had worked for their keep and fought, even died, to preserve those blessings for all.
This unregarded group of Americans, those already settled in the middle class and those upwardly mobile members of the working class intent upon achieving middle-class status, is at the moment an amorphous, combined class without a genuine champion, without a political coterie of consequence.
It is a group that is growing in number, but not in influence. It is a group that is ripening — not for the taking, not for the asking, but for the earning.
In this Republic’s short history, these folks are the best hope for conservatives, for constitutional originalists.
It is not conservatives, but leftists, who trample middle-class traditions. It is conservatives, not leftists, who offer what makes sense in a world that middle-class Americans see wobbling on its axis.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com. Read John Perry's columns here.
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