Music: Cannonball Adderley
First off, I want to say that as regards my post-a-day experiment, I posted for 6 days in a row, followed by two days of no posts, followed by a post yesterday and this one. I broke my promise to you, dear readers, but this is not one of those "I ate a Twinkie so I'm giving up my diet" moments. I just wanted to acknowledge what happened but I have no intention of stopping.
And now we return you to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress...
After encountering Jimmy Carter's speech yesterday, I have been thinking about the road not taken in that instance. Carter had some great ideas, but he was President at a very tumultuous time in history, and he did not have the leadership skills necessary to either implement his ideas or convince the American voters to reelect him in 1980. Instead they chose a guy who was swept into office due to his mic skills and espousal of libertarian ideas on the campaign trail. Reagan's election in 1980 was seen as the beginning of the "Reagan Revolution," a time when conservative ideas were finally politically "cool" after 50 years of being "uncool." What is interesting is that while taxes were lowered, regulatory restrictions were largely lifted off of corporations and aid was cut to welfare programs, the federal deficit skyrocketed and the proponents of "family values" lashed out against people who weren't like them all the while supporting the Presidency of a divorced former liberal Hollywood actor.
Reagan's VP, George H.W. Bush was elected on the strength of being in Reagan's shadow and portraying his opponent, Michael Dukakis as a "liberal," which in fact he was, but it was no longer cool to be one. In an attempt to keep up with the times, the Democratic Party decided to take money from corporate donors and special interests while still claiming to be fighting for the "average person." Bill Clinton enjoyed two terms as President doing exactly this. Then came the 2000 election, with George Bush, Jr. vs. Clinton's bagman, Al Gore vs. Ralph Nader. Nader ran a campaign where he warned that there was little to no difference betwee the two candidates, and for his troubles was branded a "spoiler" who caused Al Gore to "lose" the election. This ignores the fact that, among other things, Gore did not even win his home state of Tennessee, which if he had, and still lost the recount in Florida, would have given him 276 electoral votes to Bush, Jr.'s 260.
Bush, Jr. has portrayed himself as a heir to the Reagan legacy. For 6 years his party controlled Congress, creating a one-party state, and for a brief time after 9-11, had the popular support of nearly everyone in the country and the world. Fast forward to today, where Bush, Jr.'s poll numbers are very low, his party has lost control of the House and Senate, and noone wants to listen to him. People are tired of the way things are going and are looking for something new.
Is seems like the "Reagan Revolution" is almost at an end. If you go back and listen to Jimmy Carter's speech that he delivered on July 15, 1979, the problems we are facing today are almost exactly the same. America took the fork on the right 27 years ago, and the path led right back to the same crossroads. The question that now faces us is how are we going to face these problems today in 2007 and beyond?