New York Values – Archie Bunker

Archie and his generation had grown tired of the 1960’s liberal experiment and they blamed it for tearing apart “their” America. It was where the disenchantment about the welfare system came from and how welfare had become permanently associated with the African American, and exploded out of control.

It’s quite likely Donald Trump got many of his values, and was influenced heavily by Archie Bunker. If Trump wasn’t, many of his supporters absolutely were. It was a simpler time in the 1970’s.

New York was full of men and women descended from German, Irish, Italian, Polish, Greek and Jewish immigrants who were civil servants, union members and similar. They were “middle class” only in so much as they were neither working class, nor formerly slaves.

Archie Bunker soon became the countries favorite TV character whe he appeared on TV in 1970. He is by todays standards, a man from another era. Watching episodes of All in the Family now, it’s easy to see that even back then the liberal media laughing at Archie, making fun of his customs and behavior. Archie was at heart though a democrat. Satire only really works, if it’s based on real life.

Archie and his generation had grown tired of the 1960’s liberal experiment and they blamed it for tearing apart “their” America. It was where the disenchantment about the welfare system came from and how welfare had become permanently associated with the African American, and exploded out of control.

The problem was, welfare never did anything to address the problems of ghetto life, racism, and endemic poverty. The white middle and working class saw the increasing lack of personal control of what happened to them.

You can trace many of the values held by Trump and his supporters back to this time, and Archie Bunker is their poster boy. Peter Hamill wrote in his April 1969 feature in the New York Magazine “The Revolt of the White Middle Class” .

The working-class white man is actually in revolt against taxes, joyless work, the double standards and short memories of professional politicians, hypocrisy and what he considers the debasement of the American dream.

If the stereotyped black man is becoming the working-class white man’s enemy, the eventual enemy might be the democratic process itself. Any politician who leaves that white man out of the political equation, does so at very large risk. The next round of race riots might not be between people and property, but between people and people. And that could be the end of us.

And that is, as much as anything, how we arrived where we are today. As an Englishman, I never really understood the use of term “middle class” in America, it seemed so at odds with the British middle class. Hamill put that in context, but Bunker represents the values, and thinking that has developed in the rancorous mob we see today, and that includes whatever Trump and Cruz think are “values”.

Koch

(c) Austin Chronicle
Koch

We, me, Wendy and a 1-year old Eloise, moved to New York City in May 1982, and stayed in New York until August 1986; I’ve been back at least twice per year, every year since, until last year.

I was excited to see this film, documentary about Iconic New York Mayor, Ed Koch. There is no doubt, Koch saved the big apple. He had his critics, his sexuality, his racism  or not, corruption, all a huge source of debate. He was the ultimate private, public man right up until his death on Feb. 1st this year.

The film is a brilliant documentary. If you are at all interested in american modern history, fashion, politics, social power, welfare reform and more. This film is a must see.

I will forever remember him rumbling down a a New York city street, maybe 1983 on the front of a tank, you couldn’t hear a word he was shouting, except you knew it was “How am I doin’?”

There is a scene near the end where the 86 year old Koch walks down a hallway and closes the door to his apartment. He never had a partner, in his whole life, New York was his lady. I must admit as some who worked and lived in NY between 82-86, I shed tears as he closed that door, knowing he passed the day the film was released.