Friday, June 24, 2016

If Rip Van Trumpsickle awoke in 2016 post Brexit vote (with apologies to Washington Irving)

Rip Van Winkle was author Washington Irving's vehicle for conveying the lightning pace of change in early America -- the period in which Americans became the first people to expect and to prize change -- and during which business and working for profit became more praised and honored than in any other country in the Western world. But imagine if it was 2016 and the UK just voted to dump the EU and Rip Van Trumpsickle was walking around in post-Brexit America? It might have sounded like this:
''Rip Van Trumpsickle awoke from a sleep that had begun before the Reagan Revolution and had lasted so many years. When Rip entered his old village, he immediately felt lost. The buildings, the faces, the names were all strange and incomprehensible. 'The very village was altered -- it was larger and more populous,' and idleness, except among the aged, was no longer tolerated. 'The very character of the people seemed changed. There was a busy, bustling disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquility' -- a terrifying situation for Rip, who had had 'an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labour.' Even the language was strange -- 'rights of citizens -- 'Dump Trumpsickle!"-- "Chill with Hill!" -- elections -- members of Congress -- liberty ... and other words which were a perfect babylonish jargon to the bewildered Van Trumpsickle.' When people asked him 'on which side he voted' and 'whether he was Republican or a Democrat,' Rip could only stare 'in vacant stupidity.'

A lithograph of famous actor Bill Clinton playing Rip Van Trumpsickle

 We Americans in mid 2016 can appreciate Rip's bewilderment. Although superficially the political leadership seemed much the same -- on the sign at the village inn the face of Obama had simply replaced that of Trump -- beneath the surface Rip, like most Americans, knew that 'every thing's changed.' In a few short  decades Americans had experienced a remarkable transformation in their society and culture, and, like Rip and his creator, many wondered what had happened and who they really were.




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