Re: Blame it on the elitists?
"Bullshit. It's the triumph of the American reactionary impulse. [...] The Trump win is a win for the know-nothings..."
Like the Neoanderthals who took over the US during the Stoner Age? This is hardly America's first peasant revolt. We have a pretty long tradition of them :)
"The right in America is not conservative."
Correct. A lot of us don't mind. I mind some of their policies very much, but I'd say the same of Democrats.
"the reactionary harks to a golden era that never was, while trumpeting ignorance and a willful disregard of reality."
You mean like environmentalists who think that 'going back to nature' means moving back into the Garden of Eden? At least the alt-right in the US only wants to go back 60-70 years, not 5,000 :P I'd argue that bringing back the '50s is a more realistic goal than getting rid of Evil Technology altogether.
"The 'Make America Great Again' movement is about a return to the 'golden 1950s' -- when the KKK was still lynching blacks, coal miners were poorer than they are now and died by the hundreds in unsafe mines, and the river where I live was so polluted no-one fished or swam in it."
Yep, and now we're drugging little boys literally to death for the crime of being energetic. Back in the bad, bad '50s*, that was called motivation. One of my childhood friends died on Monday from a lifetime of drugging. The drugs knock out basic reflexes like swallowing, putting you at risk of drowning on your own saliva in your sleep (if you can sleep at all). Even if you don't, it's like being waterboarded all night, every night for your entire life.
You're a callous person if you think that our current system is ethical or kind. I personally find it downright ghoulish.
(*By the '50s, I mean Fermi's 1950s, Darwin's 1850s, Voltaire's 1750s and Descartes' 1650s. When H.G. Welles Time Traveler said "I am too Occidental for a long vigil. I could work at a problem for years, but to wait inactive for twenty-four hours--that is another matter," every one of Welles' contemporaries would have nodded knowingly. The modern Enlightenment was driven by human motivation. You're speaking for a culture that didn't exist before 1970, and won't exist by 2070.)
As for coal miners, one word: Technology. It's safer now, and we also have gas, passively safe reactor designs, and quite a few other options. Besides, how would you have run your beloved universities and heated their huge edifices without coal? Remember, we're talking about the 1950s.
And your river? Maybe you've forgotten that private households raked their leaves into the street every fall and burned them. The resultant pollution was quite a bit worse than anything VW has been accused of recently, and probably on par with industrial pollution at the time. People also changed their cars' oil in their driveways, diluted the refuse and poured it into the ground behind their garages. One thing that you can say for a Superfund site is that at least you can clean it up. What are the odds of cleaning up 50 million undocumented household sludge-piles?