It works in reverse as well. By keeping in touch with the undercurrents of many issues I sometimes sense trends and movements that become influential, sometimes way in advance of when they become "prime time." I remember paying attention to the tea party phenomenon years ago when the local radio talk show host was making disparaging remarks about it, blissfully unaware that they were advancing many of the same extreme, ultra-conservative ideas that he was doling out all along. I'm sure he figured it out later and changed his tune, but by paying attention I was able to see what was happening in his world even before he did.
But the trend that now bothers me most is that respectable, polite, thoughtful conservatism is disappearing in a slimy quagmire of sarcasm and hate. The inflammatory rhetoric triggered by the Trump/ Megyn Kelly exchange pushed the threshold of civility to a new level. The wing of American politics that prides itself on decency and morality appears to be marching willfully in the opposite direction.
It's a sad day when messages of the pope himself are greeted with a level of disrespect normally reserved for political enemies. The old saying is that the mission of a preacher is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable -- which is precisely what Pope Francis is doing -- but reactions of many so-called conservatives to the pope are the harshest we have heard since Godless Communism was the enemy du jour.
Those of us on the Left have always had a rag-tag army of down and dirty dregs of society. Ours is the domain of marginalized outcasts -- the ones called lazy moochers, welfare queens, aliens paying no taxes while enjoying the benefits of freedom and prosperity. Just as missionaries to pagan tribes had to teach them to wear clothes and pull up their socks, we still have a sub-class that won't pull up their pants -- and this angers and offends righteous conservatives so bad they can't talk about it without snarling.
I hate to say it, but I'm starting to feel better about being called Liberal. I think it's somehow connected to the presidency of Barack Obama. I read somewhere that when he finishes his second term the family will continue to live in Washington so the girls can finish high school without having to change schools. Now that's family values. And the thousands of people showing up to hear Bernie Sanders is a bellwether indicator for me that the wind is starting to blow in a different direction. As a line from the Sixties said, you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Dylan was right, you know. The answer really is blowing in the wind.