Yet Babbitt was again dreaming of the fairy child, a dream more romantic than scarlet pagodas by a silver sea.
For years the fairy child had come to him. Where others saw but Georgie Babbitt, she discerned gallant youth. She waited for him, in the darkness beyond mysterious groves. When at last he could slip away from the crowded house he darted to her. His wife, his clamoring friends, sought to follow, but he escaped, the girl fleet beside him, and they crouched together on a shadowy hillside. She was so slim, so white, so eager! She cried that he was gay and valiant, that she would wait for him, that they would sail—
Rumble and bang of the milk-truck.
In 1922, Sinclair Lewis had his comic novel Babbitt published. Warren G. Harding placed the first radio in the White House; construction began on Yankee Stadium in the Bronx; The Red Army captured Vladivostok; Sergei Diaghilev, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust and Igor Stravinsky dine together in Paris, at the Majestic hotel;The Mandate of Palestine is approved by the Council of the League of Nations; Joseph Stalin is appointed General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party and George Babbitt became an America metaphor against conformity.
George Babbitt conformed and fought his dreams. Babbitt embraced the American Secular religion of Boosterism. Boosterism helped anything and everything that kept things moving. Boosters were the shoulder punchers who wanted everyone to know the worth and value of their towns, affiliations, congregations and associations. Today, boosterism is called grassroots. It is based upon 'stay-on-message' group think.
When I read Babbitt for the first time in Father James Sheridan, OSA's American literature class in 1967, Babbitt was viewed as a two-dimensional hypocrite, a conservative, and a square, by many of us junior year close readers. Father Sheridan helped us read deeper. The guy was sincerely trying to do right by his family. Doing right by his family required that George Babbitt think like everyone else.
In Sinclair Lewis' presentation George Babbitt belongs to everything in his mythical town of Zenith, in the mythical Tri-State formation he calls Winnemac forged of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
Today, George Babbitt would belong to Planned Parenthood, Better government Association, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, Move On.org and contribute to Public Broadcasting and Television, as well as serve on several bank boards, United Methodist boards.
Babbitt would be a 46 year old, suburban, well-schooled, affluent Progressive. Babbitt would be a cash-cow bundler for the DNC.
If he lived anywhere near Chicago, George F. Babbitt he'd be in the thick of every reform panel, anti-police study group and the Make Chicago Safe for NATO Committee. George F. Babbitt would have ridden aboard one of the Pride Floats that he made sure were not stored at 48th & Halsted and he'd be helping build a memorial to police torture victims. George Babbitt is a booster - in 1922 and 2011.