A little politics-meets-history-meets-pet-peeve blogging. A couple of days ago, I was engaging in a little political banter with some co-workers. I mentioned that I'm a budding Fred-head. A friend of mine said, "but he's an ACTOR." I answered back, just a little throwaway line to be cute, not the opening of an argument or anything, "well, the last time we tried that, it turned out alright." She quickly fired back, "Well, I don't know about that...."
PLEASE! First of all, this very nice Democrat lady doesn't know hardly any history, and would admit it. Secondly, she would have been about 4 when Reagan took office, and 12 when he left. So all she's doing is parroting some line some bad teacher must have fed her back in college. I'm not particularly mad at her personally for swallowing it down, and I didn't feel at the time like going into debate mode. But come on. What part of the 1970s would you like to go back to? The double-digit inflation? The interest rates? Stagflation? The Iran hostage crisis? Or maybe you liked those thousands of Soviet Nukes pointing our direction? Hogwash, poppycock, and nonsense on stilts. Reagan has been dead for years, and history now looks at 19 million new jobs, the beginning of the low-tax policy that has powered almost 30 years of economic growth, the end of the cold war, two landslide elections, and the re-making of one of our two major parties in his image, and says, "You know what? This guy was pretty good." Sure, there were fears that he would end social security (which he didn't). There were people of very good intent who supported the nuclear freeze movement (now long-discredited). But IT'S OVER. There's not some rule out there that no Republican can ever be right about anything!
Oh, and the reverse is also true. I've got a cousin who's an adjunct history professor who's very conservative. No matter how hard I try, I can't get him to admit, even grudgingly, that Franklin Roosevelt was a great president. His view is, "FDR birthed modern liberalism, which is the enemy, therefore he must be bad, and any good he accomplished must be overrated." Again, nonsense on stilts! I'll type slowly for any of my readers who don't read so fast... HE WON WORLD WAR TWO. Again, come on! Was he perfect? Of course not! But he is (like Reagan) one of the most significant presidents of this century. If anything, his 4 landslides trump Reagan's two, winning WWII trumps winning the cold war, and the Great Depression was worse than the 70's malaise!
Put it another way. I'm a Larry Bird and Boston Celtics fan. Have been forever. So I spent a long, long time disliking the Lakers and Magic Johnson. But never, ever, have I implied that Magic Johnson was "really not so great." He's one of the greatest players to ever live. He played for my team's rival. I could pull against him (and did, with glee) without sacrificing my integrity as a student (and genuine fan) of basketball.
Partisanship like that is one reason why this country is such a mess right now. How about we agree to fight fair, to admit that the other guy might just have a point? We can disagree on principle and still respect the other side's opinions. Of course I think my opinion is correct. If I didn't, it wouldn't be my opinion anymore. But we don't have to fudge objective truths, be disingenuous, and always attribute ill intentions to the other guy. Case in point--one can be firmly against Obama becoming president without being a racist. or very anti-Romney without being a religious bigot. Or anti-John Edwards without being bigoted toward phony, preening, metrosexuals with great hair (sorry... just kidding).
I propose a return to the status quo ante, the way things used to be, circa 1983. The story goes that a staffer of Democrat House Speaker Tip O'Neill met Reagan for the first time, in the evening, in the speaker's office. Trying clumsily to break the ice, he said "Well, Mr. President, this is the place we plot against you." And Reagan answered, "Not after 6 PM. We're all friends at quitting time."