When people think of "traditional" Palm Beach restaurants, they usually refer to places such as Testa’s (my grandparents’ favourite hangout) or the Petite Marmite. But for those of us who lived there in the late 1960’s, a place not to be left off of the list was Wert’s, on South Ocean Boulevard not far from Worth Avenue. Our family went there from time to time, and occasionally we would have a Palm Beach Day School function there. Started in 1924, the decor was "traditionally Florida" (the Bonefish Grill attempts to emulate this.) But the one thing that set Wert’s apart from any other place in Palm Beach was the fact that the walls were lined with baby pictures: babies in virtually every pose one could want (and a few one didn’t) with funny captions below. It was great entertainment for me, which doubtless gratified my parents who didn’t have to put up with hearing me at the dinner table.
Wert’s is long gone, displaced by tonier establishments such as Charley’s Crab. But now we have an election year with a voting public that is rightfully discouraged, if not always knowing why. But instead of things always going from from bad to worse, the reality is that, after all these years, everybody is still going "from bad to Wert’s." A lot of the malaise that infects American politics stems from the fact that we are at the end of a thirty year run of increasing social inequity. This has proceeded apace under both Republican and Democrat President and Congress alike. It has been masked to a large extent by economic growth and extensive borrowing, but as both home values and currency fall in value it becomes evident that the basic net worthless poverty of the average American cannot be hidden indefinitely.
Fuelling this is the dominance of one or more "me generations." When a me generation is mixed with power and money, the result is a concentration of both in the hands of a few who can manage to acquire and hold them, leaving behind the rest. The American dream has been maintained by a balance of a sense of public mindedness with the desire for personal betterment. The loss of the former is having the same corrosive effect that Ferdinand Lot observed it had in Rome. As we have noted repeatedly, the Democrat party, with the likes of Hillary Clinton, ought to be having a field day. However, its elites today, unlike Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy, have forgotten in their contempt how to connect with most people, and most people sense that. The "party of the people" that relies on the like of billionaire George Soros to advance its agenda is not the party of the people at all.
The Democrats want to take themselves the fastest "from bad to Wert’s," i.e., to the elite places like Palm Beach, where those who can live there and those who can’t cross the bridge daily to serve. (It’s also like Wert’s because most of us end up being treated like the babies whose pictures decorated the walls.) This is why the Republican philosophy, for all of the stumbling its bearers have done lately, is the only real check against boomer careerism. Putting the Democrats in power is like giving a pyromaniac petrol; expanding government will only expand their control, which is their only objective, and this in turn will concentrate the control of the country’s resources in their hands. The U.S. was founded under the leadership of an enlightened (in every sense of the word) elite. That enlightenment has long decamped from those who are in power in our country. Our only hope is in people who at least have some concept of the importance of the truly independent person, otherwise we will only accelerate our slide "from bad to Wert’s."