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America’s Political Establishment Is Still Stuck In Its Prius Moment


Some have described my driving as speedy, others have used more graphic descriptions. I tend to see it as a logistical exercise of getting from one point to another with the least hassle and waste of time possible. Living in Argentina didn’t give me much motivation for or experience with slowing down. Italian-Argentine drivers seem to have no patience for slower vehicles, with the result being the highest rate of highway deaths in the world.

Of course, in my retirement I am attempting to adapt to the rigors of age and am honestly working on not getting too many speeding tickets in the good ol’ US of A. But the greatest challenge to my driving habits now comes from the new breed of electric or partly electric cars that populate the roads, especially in California where we have settled. It seems that when I am just getting comfortable with the flow of traffic, suddenly a Prius or other electric contraption appears in my windshield and brutally slows me down.

Now, I have to admit that since returning to the United States I have seen one or maybe two of these silent buggies speeding by at the customary California breakneck speeds, but that has only increased my consternation and amazement, because I thought these high-tech vehicles were incapable of traditional American cannonballing.

“Prius moment” is now my expression for these sudden jolts when I have had to abruptly hit the brakes, when I’ve had my smooth transit interrupted by the precipitate appearance in my path of a monstrosity that, in my estimation, should never have been allowed on the road.

Now Everyone’s In a Political Prius Moment

The whole U.S. political establishment, especially those on the Left, had a titanic Prius moment last year when Donald Trump suddenly appeared in their windshield, compelling them to hit the brakes so hard they have not yet been able to overcome the shock nor get their wagons aligned. It’s not just Democrats—even the Republican establishment has been complaining about an undiagnosed pain running down the side of their braking leg.

But especially for the Left, the present Prius moment has been a time of unfettered confusion. Instead of getting their brakes checked, they have been howling about the phenomena that appeared in their path and slowed down the inevitable progress they were happily bringing to American society.

Of course all metaphors lose their meaning if we take them too far. It would be useless to call Trump himself a Prius. He would also most likely resent the comparison. However, the next comparison is dead on: “road rage.” Democrats and others on the Left have been behaving about as rationally as a band of redneck drivers with a collective short fuse. Literal guns have been pulled in the heat of political emotion, making us wonder if the term “collateral damage” may soon be an up-close phenomena, not just a grim reality on far-away battle fields or inner-city gang areas.

At the same time, the concept of “right of way” has been causing much confusion and consternation for a Left that considered its progressive vision as rightfully destined to sail through to the logical goal of total societal transformation through its high-minded and “scientific” dictates. But that Prius suddenly and unexpectedly showed up directly in their path, and the resultant road rage has been as rational as a three-year-old throwing a tantrum. Not only have traditional Republican items showed up again on the menu for legislative approval, a Supreme Court judge was appointed who will most likely cause quite a few Prius moments for the Left in upcoming hearings.

It’s Worst with the Media, of Course

The vaunted objectiveness and independence of the press has been the most visible victim of the present road-rage atmosphere. The gleeful reporting of multiple unsubstantiated leaks and charges has taken us back to the good ol’ days of yellow journalism. I listened to one commentator on a national network who, with a serious demeanor, proclaimed that because there is now a special prosecutor it means there “has” to be some substance behind the charges that Trump or buddies colluded with Russians to tip the past election.

Never mind that not one shred of evidence has or will show up; Trump’s Prius brusquely appeared in the path of the press establishment, therefore he must be guilty of a whole series of criminal acts. This kind of circular reasoning has been the tenor of hushed and not-so-hushed news reporting. Never mind that the forward and rear video cams show no moving violations, never mind that no skid marks show up to substantiate criminal misconduct. For the left-leaning press there simply “has” to be something wrong with the monstrosity that slowed down the movement of the whole country.

Have you ever tried to listen to that irate driver who is convinced you just cut him off or broke the rules of driving etiquette? Even with your window down and the most sensitive of listening ears, it’s a completely futile exertion to try to understand the angry language or parse the irrational accusations flowing out of the other person’s anger and frustration. That’s America right now, and it really shouldn’t be this way.

What should the Democrats, the press, and even disgruntled Republicans do? The first thing is to check their collective towncars to see if there is any damage or just a caramel frappuccino spilled on the floor. Next, count to ten and step back far enough from the situation so rage is not the spirit that makes them speak and act. Trump won the election, whether some folk like it or not. That Prius that just slowed them down has the same legal right to be on the road as they, and it just might slowly beat them to the next corner, even if that causes feelings of deep consternation.