Saturday, May 2, 2009
It's all a bit much for a normally happy soul such as mine to take in for one big reason. There is no end in sight.
President Obama was only recently elected, and just took office three months ago. He still has more than three years at a minimum in office, and if the magnitude, scope, and pace of his 'Change' continues as it has thus far it will be an agonizing three years.
One thing that I have come to appreciate over the course of these past three months is the utter joy and euphoria that Obama elicits in his followers. It makes me jealous, because frankly I have never, ever had that feeling for a President of the United States.
Forget Kennedy and Johnson, I was just a baby. As a young child, Nixon and Ford certainly were not high on my priority list. I liked Jimmy Carter at first. He spoke to my youthful desire for progressivism.
Carter was a minister and brought a certain amount of credibility and morality to the office, which was important to the country after the dishonesty of Nixon's Watergate. And he was intelligent too, a genius, at least that's the rep that the media was passing around.
But it was also Jimmy Carter who began to ruin things for my early liberalism.
By the end of his term he was proving to be a major letdown, and I'm still trying to figure out that whole 'genius' thing. His and liberalism's weaknesses were on full display in the face of the emergence of radical Islam, Soviet aggression, and America's energy problems.
But still, politics and these major issues at this point were still only news stories to me, fleeting images on the TV set, and I would quickly change the channel to a ballgame or a comedy and go back to my own inner liberal feelings.
During the 1980's, Ronald Reagan was king, but I didn't support the kingdom. I didn't vote for 'The Gipper' either time. Here was the first time in my lifetime where it was obvious to me that a large portion of America was feeling something for a President that I just wasn't getting.
The affection for Reagan was disconcerting to me, because I was beginning in my 20's to actually pay more attention to national and world affairs. I was a liberal Democrat and became a joiner, with paid memberships in 'Greenpeace' and 'Amnesty International', and with subscriptions to 'Rolling Stone' and 'U.S. News & World Report' magazines.
In those days, I enjoyed anti-establishment music videos on the new media outlet of MTV, sons such as "Land of Confusion" by Gensis as a great example.
But something slowly began to change inside of me. The optimism of the 'Morning in America' days led by Reagan. The return of outward signs of American patriotism. The general feelings of positivism were creeping into my psyche a little at a time.
President Reagan's demand that the Soviets "Tear down this wall!" followed by that event actually happening was a watershed moment for me. It was a moment when I began to think to myself "Why are there so many millions of people seeing what I am not?" and I began to realize that these folks couldn't possibly all be evil or idiots, and I actually began to open my mind to thoughts and ideas outside of my previously grounded liberal thinking.
But it still wasn't a full-on change. I was more in transition. I still voted for Dukakis in 1988, because I simply was not ready to vote for George H.W. Bush for President. He was as establishment as you could possibly get, and a former head of the C.I.A. to boot, and I simply did not trust a former head of a spy agency to be my leader.
When the first elder President Bush eventually led us into the Gulf War, all his faults were on display in my mind. I didn't understand the importance of the whole Iraq issue. My naive liberalism still had me being sold by those talking heads and celebrities who lamented our 'going to war over nothing but oil' and other such talk.
In 1992, with my own life going through major changes on many fronts, I remained a liberal thinker for the final time in a U.S. Presidential election.
Bill Clinton was elected, and it was the first time in my life to that point where my candidate had won. I was excited for the Clinton presidency. His youthful exuberance was infectious, and I genuinely believed that he would make things better.
But I also by this time was already in the habit of looking at issues deeper than the surface. I had begun reading and researching major issues beyond just what I was being sold by media outlets. I increasingly noted what appeared to be an obvious liberal bias in newspapers and on television.
I hated the idea that these folks seemed more like cheerleaders whenever a Democrat was involved, and like antagonists when a Republican was involved. It was all so obvious, and it was turning me off.
My personal research led me to the knowledge that all of the positive economic turns of the early Clinton years were going to happen no matter who was President. In fact, they had actually begun in the final months of the Bush administration. Yet the Democrats were trying to take full credit.
I began to experience my first bit of cynicism towards my party and its politicians at this point. By the end of Clinton's first four years the transition was complete.
My own personal scales fully tilted towards conservatism over liberalism as Newt Gingrich led the 'Republican Revolution' of 1994. I was amazingly in tune with their message and supportive of this man who just a couple years earlier I would have viewed as a negative influence.
Though still a registered Democrat, I did not vote for Clinton in 1996. The second Clinton term, full of scandal, controversy, and ultimately impeachment, was what fully shoved me over to the conservative side. It was my final flip to an actual change of party to the Republican side.
With the election of George W. Bush in 2000, the second U.S. Presidential election vote in which my candidate had won, I was not excited.
Seeing Al Gore for the quack that he has turned out to be, I was tremendously relieved with the narrow outcome in Bush's favor. Bush was not the conservative that I was becoming, but he was much more tilted in that direction than Gore and his followers would have been.
The attacks of 9/11 and President Bush's outstanding leadership in the following months and years cemented my support for him. They also helped cement my growing conservative beliefs. But he never elicited that outright joy as a follower or supporter.
Obviously Obama will never elicit those feelings for me. And yet I look around at his followers and I realize something. His supporters are every bit as enthused and enthralled as Reagan's were back in the 1980's. They are as supportive of liberal politics as I was on the outside back then as well.
I don't get it, but I am trying to learn more about Obama's programs and ideas beyond what the media on both sides is trying to feed the public. So far, the more that I learn the worse it looks to me, but I am going to try to keep learning and stay open.
The showers of April turn to flowers in nature in May. We can only hope that the showers brought on our nation by the early Obama actions in April will bloom into flowers in May, but I don't hold out hope.
That Obama "May" has not started well, with an announced SCOTUS opening and the specter of the likely appointment to the Supreme Court later in the year of what will almost definitely be its most liberal member ever.
The Swine Flu is still advancing, with a possible retreat for the summer, but a return in the fall. Chrysler joins the growing list of formerly private businesses in the auto, banking, insurance and other industries now controlled by the government.
It is still raining. But I won't let it get to me. One thing that age and experience teach you is that if you wait, the sun will indeed come out tomorrow. There are signs of hope.
We have rid ourselves here in Pennsylvania of Senator Arlen Specter, a RINO (Republican In Name Only) who saw the writing on the wall that we were going to dump him in the upcoming primary and who then ran for Democratic cover like a coward.
I still hold out hope that one day I will have that President come along who inspires me and elicits that passionate adulation of feeling to go along with a support for their policies and direction that Obama's supporters feel today. Someone like Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, or Sarah Palin. You gotta keep that smile on your face and in your heart, and keep your own dreams alive.