Rick Perry and Barack Obama

Camp followers of that clever system of history outlined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book The Fourth Turning will be closely watching this week’s events as world economy unravels; unraveling as well the current president. Strauss and Howe have it that all historic periods begin and end with a major conflagration and that historic periods follow generationally, each generation having a 20-year influence. At the end of 60 years the entire system starts to collapse. Struggles ensue in the next 20 years as collective intelligence and will strive to be born again to a new era. We are now 65 years into the post-war period and are feeling, experiencing the descent. The theory marks culture as well as politics, each generation antidotal to the last. That is, in a phrase historian Arnold Toynbee used, yin becomes yang. My opinion on those who most affected our post-war period and brought about its metamorphosis are in generational alternating sequence: Dwight Eisenhower, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan and the Dalai Lama.

Many followers of this system, which is based on archetypes as well as demographics, saw Barack Obama as the figure who would rise to awaken the transitional period; a period that would also awaken the century and potentially the millennium. I did not. I saw him as the figure who completed the Kennedy period and even the age of Lincoln. The Obama presidency also ends the exclusive influence of the northeast as the historic determiner for America. Mission accomplished. As Teddy Roosevelt was prelude to FDR, Reagan was prelude to the age ahead that will advance a political and cultural awakening to the South, the West and the Heartland. When history fulfills its purposes it moves on. Every period gives evidence to that. I see the rising figure as Rick Perry, governor of Texas. Demographics have been moving in that direction since the end of WWII. It is entirely appropriate and right that he begin the tenure of such vast responsibility and scale with a prayer as he did this week in Texas.