Friday, November 7, 2008

Beyond the Celebration, I Continue to Carp

It has been quite a week. Barrack Obama was elected president; our older son announced he is going to college; and that rain that was predicted with low confidence showed up.
Of the three, the first two were surprising to me. I am overly cynical, I know. I really didn’t believe this country was grown up enough to elect a black man, but when you come down to it, we didn’t elect a black man. We elected a man who seemed like a leader we could trust; the extraordinary thing is that as it turns out, that man is black. I thought racism would prevail. That it did not has left my heart lighter.
Oh, I know that some people are howling like the Wicked Witch when Dorothy threw the water on her – “What a world! What a world!” Perhaps they are stunned at this turn of events. Since 1980, when Reagan was elected, it’s been the same old Republican gang running the show, except for that eight years when Clinton was president, and he was sandbagged by a Republican congress and a witch hunt. Oh, I’m not saying Clinton is an angel. Clearly he is not, but he did clean up a little of the high-livin’ excesses of the 80s, when the bloodhounds and the Congress backed off enough to let him govern.
The night that Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, I felt the clammy hand of fear clutching my chest. See, I was in California when he was governor, and I knew what a mess he and his corporate buddies had made there. I moved up here in 1973 and missed out on the rest of what happened to California, but I was familiar with Reagan’s cheerful attitude that if you just put the homeless and crazy people out on the street, they’d go away. In fact, I heard him say that once – in California he had cut off all the welfare-cheating bums, and they had just gone away. In his social mathematics, “homeless and/or crazy = welfare-cheating bum.” I am not even addressing the institutional racism that was also bundled into that equation.
This is one of the reasons why when I hear people talking about what a great president Reagan was, I shake my head to clear it. Which Reagan? President of which country? The Reagan I remember who was President of the United States was a good enough actor to play a president, but he never impressed me as having the smarts or presidential cojones necessary for the job. He wasn’t a leader so much as good casting. His governments, both state and federal, were disasters.
I hate to be critical, but someone’s got to say, excuse me, Reagan was not a great president. He wasn’t. He – was – not. He was cute and nice and read his lines well. That is not governing.
So I am sorry for those who grieve now at the election of an Obama. If you wish to continue going to hell in a hand basket, don’t let me stop you, but for the first time in a long time I have hope that this country is not going with you.
And that’s about all I have to say right now.

1 comment:

The Crow said...

I'd have to say the answer to my question to you earlier is that you are very pleasantly surprised.

Me, too!