I turned fifty-one, today. In a way, I see this as part two of my life. I’ve heard people talk about “fifty is the new thirty” and other such things. It does seem that a long life is certainly possible. I could make it to a hundred. I have a good chance. The improvements in medical science have greatly lengthened our lifespan and new discoveries come along each day. So, who knows?
With that in mind, I do wonder about the future. I also wonder what the future will think of this era. Right now, I hear Obama called every name in the book short of the “N” word. I’ve heard a few people use that when they thought no one was around. Well, no one disagreed, with that view. Yet, I wonder what the future will say about this era. I remember Reagan, deified and vilified, when he was in office. Clinton had all manner of insults hurled at him, and was even impeached.
Yet, what do we think of their eras now?
Although Reagan is still a virtual god to the far right, history does not have a very high opinion of him. Yes, he cut taxes, cut spending, won the Cold War and so on. Yeah, he cut taxes, but on the rich. Spending, he boosted that and doubled the National Debt. As for the Cold War, to say he won it is like saying George Washington won the Revolutionary War. Reagan also did nothing about AIDS. He pretty much ignored it; it was a gay issue. As a result, many people died and not all of them were gay.
How did Bill Clinton do? Well, when I chat with people about him, a couple things come up, none of them relate to Monica or impeachment. In fact, some people have forgotten about the charges, with anything. What they remember is the government shutdown, which they blame on the Republicans, the economy doing well, and the Deficit going down. They also speak of the Clinton Global Initiative. I hear people talking about the great things the Initiative is doing around the world, and what a great legacy it will be for Clinton.
What’s Reagan’s legacy? For that matter, what about the two Bush presidents, what are their legacies? Now, granted, George W. hasn’t been out of office long enough to truly judge his presidency, but most of what he did was not notable. Shall we recap?
Bush W allowed the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. He launched two wars, without paying for either. He roughly tripled the deficit and Implemented a drug program, without paying for it. W slashed taxes without cutting spending. He did nothing on immigration, allowed torture in military prisons and imprisoned people without warrants. He tortured ostensible enemies of America, screwed up Hurricane Katrina relief and didn’t catch bin Laden. George W spied on Americans without warrants, did nothing about Climate Change and almost nothing to help veterans. He rolled back environmental regulations and helped the housing and banking meltdown.
Now, I face the next phase in my life, and I wonder what it will hold. In the coming decades, as I slow down, as I face retirement, what will people be saying about the first decades of the Twenty-first Century? What will I tell my grandchildren about this era? I like to think the American voters will eventually wake up and move things forward rather than back.
I don’t know. Sad to say, I’m not optimistic. Maybe, this is just the early onset of being a grumpy old man.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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