For the last couple of weeks I have been reading a book about American history. In particular, the book focused on the Roosevelt family. It ranges from Theodore’s presidency in the first eight years of the 1900s, through FDR’s historic four terms. Many stories were rehashed that I have forgotten since history class. For me, most stories presented themselves with deeper meaning than when I had heard them for the first time.
The realization is that Americans, and in particular our media and politicians, need to calm down. We are living in wonderful times, and a period of great simplicity and calm with regard to past moments of our nation’s storied history. It’s time we put things into perspective. The benchmark for this generation largely dates back only to the Nixon years, as that’s when most people came of age if they’re still around in the political or media scene.
Nixon was elected 54 years ago, so a young journalist would be pushing 80 today. This is why we hear phrases like “worse than Watergate.” Folks who were around since the Clinton era are at least 55-60 years old today. In recent months, this is why we heard so many references to his impeachment hearing. The Iraq/Afghanistan war began 17 years ago, so we use this as our benchmark for international conflict.
Time has forgotten the majority of the Cold War, and most of Vietnam. We as a nation have become numb to the atrocities and chaos of World War II. The words Hitler, Nazi, and Fascist are thrown around loosely today. The understanding of what they meant to those living during the era is all but lost.
The knowledge of the pain communism and socialism brought to millions of global citizens is forgotten today. The reminder that Mao and Stalin are the world’s biggest mass murderers is all but nonexistent today.
Our gauge of a recession is the Great Recession of 2008, and no longer the Great Depression of 1929. The time in 2008 was tough, but the reality is it was nowhere near the length of time that 1929 lingered.
Political theater has also subsided. It’s been decades since the last assassination attempt of one of our presidents. The most recent being Reagan in the 80s. Before then, most around today were children, or young adults when JFK was killed.
The point is, it we only use the past four decades as our reference, then the time period is active. It’s hard to believe it’s worse if you stretch out the time. It’s ignorant to say that is more dangerous.
Words matter. We hear this often from the left. They’re right. Trump’s words are a tarnish on the office, but he’s simply putting his words out in the open. All of our leaders have spoken with this brash tone, but we often hear of it after they leave office by way of their manuscripts, and their staffer’s books. Also, the words the left has spoken with regard to Trump and conservatives are shameful. It’s making light of the labels they originally were intended for. This lessens the significance of history associated with these words.
The point is Americans should read a little history. Remind themselves of what transpired on our soil only a few decades ago. Remind themselves of the horrific things that took place on earth a few decades ago during the world wars and the results of the aftermath.
You don’t have to go back into the 1800s to realize how bad it once was. Figuring out what life was like in America between 1900 and 1968 will do everyone a favor. It will make phrases like “worse than Nixon” have more of a meaning. Sure, it may be worse than Bush, Clinton, or Nixon, but was it worse than things that happened before them? More often than not, the answer will be no.