Do George F. Babbitts walk among us today?
Do they remain conformists? Sure. Are they disproportionally drawn to careers in sales? Probably.
Do they vote? And, if so, for whom?
I have a guess.
In any case, Babbitt is on my mind thanks to J. Frank Dobie, who once observed:
To an extent, any writer anywhere must make his own world, no matter whether in fiction or nonfiction, prose or poetry. He must make something out of his subject. What he makes depends upon his creative power, integrated with a sense of form. The popular restriction of creative writing to fiction and verse is illogical. Carl Sandburg’s life of Lincoln is immeasurably more creative in form and substance than his fanciful Potato Face. Intense exercise of his creative power sets, in a way, the writer apart from the life he is trying to sublimate. Becoming a Philistine will not enable a man to interpret Philistinism, though Philistines who own big presses think so. Sinclair Lewis knew Babbitt as Babbitt could never know either himself or Sinclair Lewis.
Thank you, Sinclair Lewis. And, thank you, J. Frank Dobie.