- - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

2016 might go down in history as the year we realized we were living in a global Wild West – an unforgiving environment where anarchy reigns in many territories, where laws and rules are flaunted by elites, and where danger is constantly lurking on the home front. But we’re at a disadvantage to those intrepid settlers who conquered the Old West in the 19th century. They had something we don’t: they had the cowboy.

There’s a reason cowboys were, for many years, a classic American symbol. They exemplified the best of American ideals: tough, solid, fearless and fair, they helped tame the wild country and make room for an expanding nation. They believed in law and order even out on the frontiers of civilization, and to preserve it, they fought when they had to. Above all, they showed what it meant to be a man.

Cowboys exemplified stoicism, courage, assertiveness, and aggression when the times called for it. Put together, those qualities are summoned up by a single word: “manliness.” Has America produced anyone better at exemplifying manliness than John Wayne, especially in his western roles? Whether he’s doggedly pursuing his niece’s captors in “The Searchers” or mounting a one-man charge against Robert Duvall’s gang of outlaws in “True Grit”, he showed a whole generation of young Americans what it meant to be tough, honest, and true.

Close behind John Wayne is Theodore Roosevelt – who in his day reminded Americans that you didn’t have to be born tough and burly to make yourself into a man. Teddy Roosevelt grew up in a life of wealth and privilege and was often sick as a child. Unsatisfied with his early political career in New York, he struck out for the west and lived among the cowboys. On those plains and around those campfires, he became a man. Some made fun of his spectacles, calling him “four eyes” – and he learned to fight back when he needed to. He tried to replicate that frontier fighting spirit when he recruited cowboys into his Rough Rider cavalry regiment – the same spirit he called upon when he charged up San Juan Hill.

Where is the manly spirit of the American West and San Juan Hill today? On life support, thanks to an endless campaign of feminization led by the political left and fueled by pop culture. “Manliness” is quickly becoming a foreign concept in America.

Our national emasculation starts early. It used to be the youngest Americans who grew up worshipping the cowboy ideal – watching western shows on TV, carrying lunchboxes to school emblazoned with rearing horses and lasso-swinging riders, and yes, even playing “Cowboys and Indians.” But now, six-year-old boys are suspended from school for daring to pretend to shoot their friends with a bow-and-arrow. By the time our kids get to college it’s even worse – the modern university, instead of being a place for the free exchange of ideas, is now a place where the phrase “man up” is treated as hate speech and gender itself is a matter of daily preference.

What we once called gallant chivalry – holding doors for women, helping with their coats – is now denounced as sexism. The New York Times offers advice for the “modern man” that encourages him to act, well, less like a man and more gender neutral. “Feminism” – which used to actually call for equal rights – has become a cheap political talking point, spouted by Hillary Clinton as she campaigns alongside her husband Bill whose disrespectful and downright disgusting treatment of multiple extramarital lovers seems to be acknowledged by everyone in America except his own wife.

Who exemplifies “manliness” these days in modern America? Not John Wayne, not Teddy Roosevelt. It’s “Pajama Boy,” the plaid loungewear-clad hipster man-child employed by the Obama administration to urge his fellow millennials to “Wear pajamas. Drink hot chocolate. [And] talk about health insurance” during the Obamacare rollout. Can you imagine Pajama Boy on a cattle drive? Neither can I.

So where can we go from here? Is there any hope for reclaiming the masculinity of America – a country arguably founded because of masculine fortitude and grit? There’s one clear sign that manliness in this country isn’t dead, and we see it on TV every day – its name is Donald Trump. A man who, not coincidentally, was endorsed for president by John Wayne’s daughter.

Love him or hate him, agree with him or disagree, nobody can deny that The Donald has that swagger any cowboy of the Old West would recognize. He refuses to apologize for being a man, refuses to apologize for his opinions, and refuses to tone down or “feminize” his style.

That’s part of the reason the political elites can’t stand Trump. They haven’t stood up against the feminization of America, and they can’t fathom that he will. They wouldn’t know what to do if a real-life cowboy sauntered into one of their fancy restaurants, dusted off his shoulders and put his feet up at the bar. Donald Trump may be a successful businessman, but he doesn’t play by the rules of the other elites – he blazes his own trail, and that’s what they don’t get.

The polls are close, and it’s still early to say whether Donald Trump will win over the Feminizer-in-Chief Hillary Clinton. But even if she wins – especially if she wins – it will be important to remember that there was at least one American politician in 2016 who wasn’t afraid to stand up and be a man. Maybe Mr. Trump will inspire more to do the same.

Eric Bolling is a co-host of “The Five” on the Fox News Channel and the author of “Wake Up America: The Nine Virtues That Made Our Nation Great – And Why We Need Them More Than Ever.”

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