Growing up in rural Perry it was not uncommon to pick up the rotary phone and hear other people talking. It was a fun way to spy on the people down the street, other folks who could not afford a ‘private line’. But sometimes you would hear a click during your own conversation and know they were listening to you!
Political parties were simpler back then. The Democrats favored New Deal government programs and powerful labor unions. Republicans preferred less of both. Of course, there were the Southern Democrats who voted Republican in congress and were rumored to support continued segregation. Kennedy won a close election against Nixon in 1960 separated by just over 100,000 votes. There were rumors of vote tampering out of Chicago and Texas but no one challenged the result because Nixon had gotten so sweaty during the first televised debate. There were articulate spokespeople for both sides who passionately debated party platforms and societal fundamentals. There were three TV channels where journalists like Walter Kronkite kept things honest. Conservative Barry Goldwater lost the 1964 election in a landslide and everything began to change. Sentiment turned against the Domino Theory and the Viet Nam War. It came out that Johnson and the Joint Chiefs were lying to us. America did not believe the Warren Report about the Kennedy assassination and with the growing use of marijuana many college students asserted that the Moon landing had been faked. Nixon formed a coalition with the Southern Democrats to get elected in 1968 but resigned in 1974 after prodding by Barry Goldwater and other Republicans.
Back in those days the GOP was known as a ‘big tent’ that encompassed many competing views and philosophies. Nowadays the party has no platform but anyone who wanders beyond the contradictory invisible lines espoused by former President Trump or FOX News is a traitor and a RINO. The far left is more cuddly but almost as scarry. While they do not assault the basic tenants of democracy, they advocate a bigger role for national government that would provide spoon-feeding and diaper service to all Americans.
If America is lucky, a rational political consensus will soon emerge somewhere in the middle. Legalization of weed will continue to expand the crackpot conspiracy theories…we all know that Hillary Clinton and a secret cabal of liberals is operating a child molestation syndicate out of a pizza shop in DC…and that Donald Trump is a super-hero sent by aliens to restore America’s long-lost greatness… (personally, I continue to believe there was something fishy about the Kennedy assassination, I think the Cubans did it, and the Epstein suicide…)…but a silent majority of Americans will emerge, maybe it already has, who occasionally discard the bong water rather than drinking it and seek to reason for themselves in the cold light of day.
America has a lot of serious stuff to deal with…it’s always been that way if you want to lead the world into a constructive new age…and we need to move forward with foresight, rational debate and a certain amount of clarity (after the smoke clears and we finish all the HoHo’s and Little Debby’s). We also need a certain amount of tolerance for one another…don’t be so quick to call your adversary a communist or a nazi or, worse yet, a foreigner…even if they’re jabbering on the phone when you pick up, even if they’re among those morons at the wings of our troubled two-party system.
Let’s identify what needs fixing in America, what’s good about America and needs saving, develop some sensible short-term plans and sentient long-term strategies, and not throw democracy out with the bong water.