Thirty-three years ago yesterday John Lennon was gunned down. The age still visits, an age he singularly awakened. But there will be no biographical Killing Lennon by Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly has his hands full already. His tomes rise on a celestial stairway. He has taken on Kennedy, then Lincoln and even tackled the Son of God. Who could possibly be next? Himself?
It is likewise symptomatic of our age that a thick-minded redneck who traverses as close to the borders of indigenous American fascism as a radio journalist ever has, considers it his designed purpose even to advise the pope. Possibly Facebook has reduced us to a horde. A bumper sticker will tell our story. I live in the “Live Free or Die” state, right next door to the “If it's not fun why do it?” state.
The troubling thing is, it seems to fit. It is what we have become. Our times so oddly and closely resemble mid-19th century Russia before it descended into 100 years of darkness.
But Collins knows they won’t get it, and that is the element that brings Russia to mind. Novelists Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky were able to write beneath the censors, to make that which is clear seem obscure to the dull-witted state aparatchiks. Very good writers do that again today. The epic TV drama “Lost,” marking the millenium, was a masterpiece in this form.
Among conservatives, only Mitt Romney and few others seems above these banalities. He went, innocent and fearless, to see “The Hunger Games” with his grandchildren the day it opened in theaters. He even read the books. That instinctiveness alone should be enough to recall him to national service in a time of management crisis that now threatens the very core of our collective being.
Romney sees the symptoms of breakage where others do not, even when they are the ones doing the breaking. It is what he did at Bain Capital. It is what he did at the 2002 Winter Olympics, with its beautiful introductory homage to the White Buffalo, the Native American symbol of the rising millennia and in hippie lore, the rising age of Aquarius. And Romney is among the few conservatives who desired to rise to the presidency in 2012 who doesn’t appear to despise the rest of us. Maybe he should go again.
And right along with him, we need someone completely brand new to get us started again, someone free from the sweet and sour generational memories, the provincial Coolidge nostalgicos, the neocon war councils, the absurd and dangerous messianic Armageddon cults and the abhorrent radio knuckleheads who daily poison the American way. Someone free of all these plagues to conservatism is South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, an early Tea Party favorite, heading toward reelection now and, like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, about to rise out of a grim landscape and catch fire when she wins.