I was thinking about politics and history the other day (I think about politics and history in every day ending in a "y.") It occured to me what a crummy political era we are living in. Imagine, if you will, that you had been 21 years old and able to vote for the first time in November of 1932 (because the voting age wasn't lowered to 18 until the 1970s). You would have had the opportunity to vote 4 times for FDR (arguably the #3 president of all time, after Lincoln and Washington, and the fellow whose face is on the dime), then once for Truman (traditionally seen as a top 10 president, and my favorite Democrat), twice for Eisenhower (also top 10, and on the silver dollar), and then finally JFK (not top 10, but he's on the half dollar). Even if you didn't vote for all of them, it would be hard to argue that we got a pretty good run of leadership. You would be 53 years old before you ever had to stand in a voting booth and wonder whether LBJ or Barry Goldwater was the lesser of two evils.
Contrast that with my voting experience. My first election was 1988. I voted for Bush 41, but never was a huge fan... it was more a vote against Dukakis. In 1992 and 1996 we got Clinton, whose distinction of being only the second president ever impeached will almost certainly keep him off of the currency. And of course, the alternative choices (Bush again, and Bob Dole) were of the hold-your-nose-when-you-vote variety. Then 8 years of Bush 43, who has never prompted an order for dynamite for any additions to Mt. Rushmore. The only good thing I can say about those two wins is that Gore and Kerry were just as bad as Dole had been. And then, most recently, Obama vs. Dole again. (Whoops. I meant McCain. It's so hard to keep track of which foul-tempered war hero is which.) I have gray whiskers, and I have never had the opportunity to vote for a candidate I really, really liked. I was just a little too young to pull the lever for Reagan. But in my 40 years on the planet, he would have been the only candidate I could have taken great pride in supporting (I also was around for Nixon, Ford, and Carter... now that's an all-star team).
I don't know why the last 20 years haven't produced a Reagan, or a Truman. But I do know that watching politics these days reminds me of Casey Stengel's famous baseball quote: "Can't anybody around here play this game anymore?"