We are in ‘bluebird moment’
It is Judy Garland versus Vera Lynn.
It is The 1939 song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” versus the 1942 hit “White Cliffs of Dover.”
It is America in its prewar reverie versus Great Britain in its wartime trial.
This is, for America’s two political parties, a Bluebird Moment.
Let me explain: Garland sang that “Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly.”
Lynn crooned that “when the dawn comes up/There’ll be bluebirds over/The white cliffs of Dover.”
There the visions — there the lyrics — divert, and there the two parties do as well.
The Republicans are embracing the song Garland trilled when, in The Wizard of Oz, Aunt Em bid her to “find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble”–the precise goal the GOP chases as President Donald Trump’s period fades into history, perhaps only to return in a restoration campaign four years from now.
The Democrats, flush with victory in the war for the White House, are clinging to the wartime dreams of battered Britain, when Lynn looked with hope to bright postwar skies, a time when “There’ll be love and laughter” and when “History will prove it too/When the tale is told/It will be as of old/For truth will always win through.”
Neither song — neither vision — is likely to be fully redeemed, just as the American daydream of 1939 could not persist after the Pearl Harbor in 1941, just as it would be three years until “the light of hope” Miss Lynn helped place in the eyes of 1942 Britain would take form in what Churchill called the “broad sunlit uplands” of a world rid of Nazi war and tyranny.
The good news is that bluebirds don’t necessarily migrate and that they can roost both singly or in a group through the winter.
So there is hope that the contention of the autumn might dissipate with a new year (2021), a new Congress (the 117th), and a new president (the 46th).
The departure of the divisive figure of Trump, and the fading influence of his nocturnal tweets, also may bring clarity to the American political landscape, which has been obscured by the president’s clouds of invective.
On the surface, the transition in American foreign policy from the Trump Republicans to the Biden Democrats may produce international vertigo.
Consider this presidential commission’s evaluation of American foreign policy: alternating ” between isolation and independence, between sharply marked economic nationalism and international initiative in cooperation moving in a highly unstable zigzag course.”
Those words were written in the 1930s. They apply nine decades later.
When the dust settles, as it may after the white tornado of Trump vituperation dissipates, historians and experts may come to agree that the Trump approach to foreign policy–while contemptuous of international organizations and of customary diplomatic comportment–may not be such a major departure from the direction of 21st-century foreign policy after all.
There remains danger that the two major political parties–the one that could not have imagined a decade ago that Biden would be its savior, the other that could not have imagined that Trump would be its leader–could fly apart.
For as Lynn, who died earlier this year at age 103, would teach us in her unforgettable ballad of inspiration, we simply must “wait and see.”