Escape from Liberal Despair?
If you want to understand why there are so many liberals in New York City, listen to the story of a couple I know all too well. Donna and Frank, earning six-figures in salary, lived in relative squalor in Brooklyn, NY, as I related to AT readers in February. They resided in a dark, dingy, rat-infested one room apartment. Their neighborhood consisted of streets of dilapidated industrial buildings and sidewalks littered with trash and makeshift habitats for the homeless. This was punctuated by the deafening traffic noise and exhaust fumes from the elevated expressway that ran overhead.
Like flies in the proverbial vinegar jar, they believed it was the sweetest place on Earth. However, there was a subliminal anger dwelling deep within them, a vague feeling that some outside force was waging war on their existence.
Frank joined the local chapter of ISO, the International Socialist Organization. There, he learned to cultivate his anger and resentment, and focus it on a hatred for capitalism, evil corporations, and greedy CEOs. Donna was easily drawn into this dark cloud of bitter antipathy for all things capitalist and conservative.
Here I have to confess that Donna and Frank are more than just friends, they are family. I am stuck with them.
Whenever they would come over for a visit, there was tension in the air. Although Donna was upbeat and loquacious, any mention of conservative values or beliefs would set her off. Frank was always in a bad mood. He would stomp into our house without saying a word, sit in a corner with his arms crossed and wait for someone to light his fuse.
With teeth clenched, Frank once told me that he had been oppressed all of his life. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, since I knew that he had led a relatively blessed upper-middle class existence since childhood. Note: He is not a blood relative, so his oppression fantasies are not my fault.
Last Thanksgiving was the flash point. As we all sat around the table, peacefully consuming our turkey and dressing, the subject of Obamacare came up. I made a negative comment, which led to a full-scale debate with Frank. The debate escalated, and voices were raised. Finally, exasperated, Frank shouted, “You just don’t like him because he’s black!” That’s when I knew I had won the debate. I began laughing and said, “The last refuge of scoundrels is the race card!”
Suddenly, all hell broke loose. Everyone stood up and started screaming. (Except for me. I sat there with a stunned look on my face. After all, I had won the debate.) Donna and Frank headed for the door. My wife was in tears, and accused me of destroying Thanksgiving for everybody.
In an attempt to salvage family unity and my marriage, I calmed everyone down and apologized. We finished dinner and had a relatively harmonious Thanksgiving evening.
In January, Donna received a job offer from a company in Orlando, offering approximately the same six-figure salary as she was making in Brooklyn. She accepted, and they moved immediately.
All of this is prologue to our latest encounter. A dramatic change has taken place with Donna and Frank since their move. They appear to be genuinely happy, and at peace with the world.
My wife and I took a long vacation to Orlando in March. We spent a lot of time with them, and I was struck by the absence of tension in our relationship.
Their new apartment is beautiful. Everything in it is brand new, clean, and brightly lit. The view from their balcony of the Orlando skyline and Lake Eola is breathtaking. Their rent is about half of what they paid in Brooklyn.
We walked to the downtown Church Street area for dinner. The streets were filled with young, upscale professionals dining at the sidewalk cafés and dancing at the clubs. The environment was vibrant and life-affirming. I have never felt so old.
At dinner, Donna talked about her new job. The work ethic of Millennials is atrocious, said Gen-X’er Donna. They demand shorter work hours and flexible schedules. She was appalled by their lack of commitment, and has had to fire several of them. As a Boomer, I had to chuckle at the irony.
Frank seems totally different, as well. He hasn’t yet found a job in teaching, but he is definitely upbeat about the future. He talked about the horrors of the Common Core curriculum, and the difficulties in dealing with the latest generation of students.
With an enthusiastic, positively energized voice, he spoke about the promise of Orlando’s future and the vast opportunities available for entrepreneurs and investors there. Frank has developed a passion for real estate, and has done some intensive research on potential areas of growth and development in the city. As we drove through downtown, he pointed out several properties he thought I should purchase for investment.
I was amazed. The anti-capitalist angst and negative energy I had felt from the two of them has been replaced with an optimism and an inner peace that is a stunning transformation.
I credit the “broken windows” theory. A deleterious and toxic environment, such as the one Frank and Donna experienced in Brooklyn, is a cancer to the soul. The result is a darkness that produces envy, frustration, and a hopelessness that is the foundation for a distorted leftist political philosophy. As a growing, less-regulated and more free-market environment, sunny Orlando has been their repaired window.
If two such individuals can rehabilitate themselves, perhaps all is not lost for the rest of us.
Andrew Thomas blog at darkangelpolitics.com