by Jacquelineoboomer (@
I’m confident some of my “political” involvement matches that of others, at least of my generation. (Okay, I don’t presume to say that it exactly matches, but, at the very least, it is representative.)
I started noticing national politics as a (part-Irish, Catholic) teenager in high school, when JFK came on the scene (even the nuns were happy) and I’d race home from school to watch his wonderful afternoon press conferences.
Being from the Northeast (where we and so many people in this vast country lived in a white, middle-class bubble), I also had the awful awakening in the ’60s to what for decades (outside of our bubble) had led up to the Civil Rights movement – and what was still going on, most specifically in the South, suddenly publicized on TV news programs – and suffered along with the nation when the best of the best leaders of “our time” were assassinated.
All of it cut me to the core, and left an impression on my heart that remains today.
After that, many baby boomers set out to “change the world,” which, we are just finding out, we didn’t.
I never felt connected to politics after the ’60s … so many of us were crushed by all of the events that had occurred, at least one of which (the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby) we watched live on our black and white TVs. I remember thinking our nation was lost. At the very least, my generation was experiencing what later might have been called varying levels of human rights post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the ’70s, as a young woman, I also paid close attention to the Women’s Rights movement, because I walked in the high heels of a woman in the workplace, and have fought the good fight from my perch (and as part of a career working as a civilian for the Navy) in my own way, throughout my life. I did dream of seeing our first woman President, assuming she was going to be not just any woman, but the “right woman.”
But because I was “busy” in the ’70s making that career for myself and raising my son, I never mixed in with the anti-Vietnam War groups, never even paid that much attention, used to wonder why the TV broadcasters kept insisting on showing us “the war” on the evening news (shudders), something I am embarrassed about to this day — something that has caused me deep regret and pain in my heart — something I wish I could receive forgiveness for, but know I can’t. Truly, even though I tried to be a good person, I was distracted by personal matters, and I deserve to continue to feel angst over that.
Sucked back in, a little, I later watched all of the hearings on Nixon’s Watergate and Reagan’s Iran-Contra — I cannot tell you how much I detested Reagan – and had previously fully supported Jimmy Carter as President and thought he got a raw deal, all around.
When Bush the first was elected, gag, I spent those four years saying, “La la la I can’t hear you,” in my mind. The mute button on the remote was my constant companion. If ya can’t beat ’em, block out their voices, I thought, and wait for the next presidential election.
When Clinton came in, I re-entered the political fray, and stood by him all eight years — he was from my generation, a baby boomer, and at last a Democrat was back in the White House. When Newt started to concentrate all Congressional efforts on taking down Bubba from Arkansas, with the impeachment proceedings and even putting the government on furlough, I continued to back Bill and Hillary.
My support for Bill and Hillary ENDED in South Carolina during the 2008 campaign when Bubba spit out that even “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina” — not to mention how she acted like a crazy, entitled white woman during the whole campaign, actions I put aside only when she served admirably as Secretary of State but shall never forget — and I’ve never looked back on ditching those two. If Hillary ever runs again, I will vote for her because of our mutual political party, not for her, per se; she’s still not the “right woman,” in my book.
Around that time, although I felt I was a mature woman who “had lived things,” I was devastated to find out that many, many Democrats in all parts of this country were prejudiced against the race of candidate Barack Obama. I don’t know what I was thinking, before that.
Turns out my new Democratic bubble (where I only hung around with like-minded, open-minded people, and had retired from jobs in the Northeast and Southeast within hugely diverse Navy workforces where respect for others existed and open prejudice wouldn’t have been officially allowed) had let me down, once again.
When Gore “lost” and Bush “won,” I remember screaming and crying that night, as I’m sure most of us did who were following politics then.
To say we all “suffered” through the eight awful Bush-Cheney years of terror is the grossest of understatement. But at least none of us here today died through their hands, like the thousands of service members they more or less put to death by sending them into a mishandled war and an unjust war. We’re still paying part of that price, as a country, even though most of us escaped with our lives.
During the early Bush years, I vividly recall watching FOX News – some of their evening lineup and daytime shows (Geraldo, O’Reilly, Hannity, et al.) — even CNBC, along with MSNBC and CNN — and felt I was getting the full perspective, like any mature, “thinking” Democrat would. As the Bush years progressed, we all know how deeply divided the nation became, once again, and why.
Gotta tell ya I totally enjoyed people like Molly Ivins and Maureen Dowd and Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart then, and read all the Bushisms and stuff like that, because if anybody needed comic relief to maintain sanity, it was surely all of us during the Bush years. In particular, I used to think Maureen had the word skills and bedevilment to masterfully take down W, and looked forward to reading her column each week.
Enter President Barack Obama.
For more than five decades that I’ve witnessed, there has never been such incivility in our politics. Although gazillions of us voted for him twice, and he is duly elected, and loved by gazillions of Americans and people abroad, the much smaller percentage of people in this country has lost its fucking collective mind.
The number-one reason is racism — even if it’s deeply buried and subconscious, it’s there — followed by many of the other “deadly sins” like greed and envy, and there are days when I do not know how we will survive all of this. Thank you, Chips, for giving us shelter during this dark political rainstorm.
Because of the hatred for President Obama from the relatively few among the 300 million people in America, and I believe some of the haters could not articulate why they hate him (they don’t even get how the dastardly anthropological “other tribe” theory works; there’s no observant ego alive among ’em), we have not only seen the death throes of an entire political party – formerly known as Republicans and/or conservatives, but there aren’t many true ones left – we are also experiencing the death throes of old-school media.
Good riddance to the latter, but I really believe we need two political parties in this country, to make sure the pendulum does not swing too far in either direction, so there’s angst for us, again. I’m left of center, but I don’t want our country to be far left any more than I want it to be far right.
I wrote all these words to get something off my chest. In addition to the personal guilt I still feel for not speaking up for our service members during Vietnam, I wish to acknowledge that there is much about the incivility in our political discourse today that we Democrats are just as responsible for as Republicans, because we lapped up the chance to go after Bush just as they did to go after Clinton.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have gone after Bush, but we should not have sunk to the same level as Republicans, licking our chops.
So when writers like Maureen Dowd (who means NOTHING in the grand scheme; nor do the others with no credentials who are paid to put down political people) prove themselves to have no core, and can just as easily go after one side as the other, because they are media whores and awful people, we can’t cry mea culpa too much, because we once egged them on.
Without those bitter types who caught our attention during the Bush years, I personally would not have survived the Bush years, and some of you may feel the same. But – eek – I am now a little bit sorry that we didn’t try to pull back on it and work toward a more civil political discourse then, because we sure don’t have it now. Maybe if we had, we could have regrouped in our party and been more successful at the polls, in the off years. Be careful what ya wish for, eh?
A friend of mine would say my taking any kind of responsibility for this is nothing more than “Catholic guilt,” which I should get over, and I get that. Ha! I’m only a little sorry for taking down Bush like so many are currently taking down President Obama. But I am sorry about it. A little. Maybe I should have acted more grown up, but only in the way I went about it – with a vengeance, licking my chops.
After writing this, I will defer worrying about all that until 2017, but – in the meantime – I will continue to trash anybody (anybody!) who tries to trash President Obama. Call me a hypocrite; I don’t care.
So, as I’ve told my close friends, for now I will continue to support President Obama every day, but when he is out of the White House in 2017, when I shall be 70 years old, God willing, and if I don’t move to another country, I shall at least stay here and smoke my first joint. Yeah, you read that right.
I hope to reach that milestone, and I hope it’s legal, because I will need something to mellow me out when our current First Family flies off to resume their previous lives on the next Inauguration Day … assuming they won’t take me with them, even after I beg.
Oh, and, please don’t tell my grandchildren about that secret “my first joint” part. Wouldn’t want to set the wrong example for the dear young ones!