The shake-out of this year's most important election in our lifetime has begun.
Congratulations are due to President Obama and his team. By all acounts, they managed to attract millions of first-time voters to the polls. Whatever motivation it was that spurred these newbees on, we welcome them to the American political scene. We are a better country when more people participate than don't.
Now on the other political side there seems to exist a vacuum. A sucking sound. A sucking feeling. The old G.O.P. hasn't wavered in its core beliefs, but, like that orange polyester leisure suit in my closet because I know that the fashion world will soon regain its sanity and bring it back, this party might need a curfew.
But that's for next year, for next cycle. Today my thoughts are wandering backward. Hell that's what conservatives do. There's a rumor going aroud that your inky servant turned fiddy recently, so what better time to review the impact of a party's winning the White House as it relates to my lifetime than now?
Elections make history text books, which is why so many lawyers study history, ...or something.
*50 years of presidential impact--a thumbnail*
Apparently the election held in 1960 was contentious, 'contentious' being Latin for 'stolen'. (A little political humor to start us off.) JFK defeated RMN. War raged. Someone shot JFK. Still war raged. LBJ continued most programs, expanded some social/medical government assets. Rights were expanded after much blood spilled. Medicare was born. Chalk this up as ONE concrete result of a party having power, and a helluva front-man to lead it. The 1960's was about Haight-Ashbury, Viet Nam, and the moon. Politics had little chance against these three forces. (Ok, ok. I'll give you the moon, my democrat friends. That's TWO.)
In 1972, the first election I remember, RMN landslid. Morning in America! Or....something. He went to China, 'ended' the war, got us off of the Gold Standard, and ushered in the idea of a Culture War. Then he screwed up. Got paranoid. And for a couple of years it became about him. We hate it when that happens. In 1976, we got Carter. Iran, gas lines, inflation. Not all his fault, for sure. But some of it was. Bottom line: The 70's a mixed bag of bad.
1980 for people my age defined the power of party politics. RWR actually did lift our collective (ahem) spirits, in so many ways. He did accelerate the Cold War (in order to attempt to end it); but he reduced tax rates and got our engine humming again. For college students at the time, it was the first time in our lives that Americans showed the pride that we all, I suspect, suspected was festering in us all. He won re-election in a huge landslide in '84 (I, the burgeoning political expert at the time, wagered $100 on 50 states, and lost. Thanks Minn.). Lower taxes: That's ONE for our side. GHWB won next, and, oh by the way, history will show, ended the Cold War. That's TWO.
Our buddy to the south, WJC won in 1992. The Internet did too, and Clinton did nothing to stop it. Genious. And budget surpluses, fueled 99% by the boom that the 'www.'s' of the world generated, followed. Real welfare reform occured, as did a few missed opportunites to kill one UBL. Then Bubba made it about him for a few years. We hate it when that happens.
September 11th, 2001. Anyone think it made a whit of difference what letter the occupant of our White House had after his name?
GWB reacted like the cowboy he purports to be. Kill, or at least shoot at, them all and let God sort em out. We hate it when that happens, I suppose. But what also happened is that the banking racket on Wall Street was overvaluing homes all over the land and in 2008 they took their cut of a huge old inflated pie, leaving the crumbs to the home-owners (and of course that meant in tons of cases the banks and lending companies). Again, non-paritisan corporate greed/theft. We learned a quick lesson though: Your home is worth what you can sell it for.
This bubble probably did cause the voters to demand a change, and the next decade began with BHO, of course. Historic? You betcha. His record thus far is as much related to the housing bubble repair as anything, so since he has been re-elected will will see whether or not his party can make history.
I think my point here is that as riled up as 'we' sometimes get in these historic elections, few of them ever are. America's last 50 years didn't depend on D.C., it depended on us. Still does.
Unless I'm wrong.
Next week: The historic Jesus, Part I. "Why tell us Joseph's genealogy--twice--both different--if Joseph isn't blood-related to Jesus?", etc..