I spent several hours in a car recently with a 30 year old business major. We were talking about politics and the general state of the Nation. He was in complete despair over the state of the economy, our reputation abroad, and our potential to pull ourselves out of this mess. He didn’t see a path to greatness again.
I asked him if he had any idea about Ronald Reagan. He responded that he had read about him, but had no conscious memory of Reagan. That’s too bad. Of course if you’re only 30 years old you were born right about the time that our Nation was on the ascendency. President Jimmy Carter was only a bad memory and everything seemed suddenly possible under Ronald Reagan. That’s sad as the political memories of a 30 year old probably kick in around the time of Bawdy Bill Clinton.
The first conscious political thought that I remember was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I knew we were a Republican household and I remember how concerned both my parents were. I was eleven years old. So a thirty year old today might remember “Read my lips, no new taxes” (President George W. Bush) and the resulting fragmenting of the Republican Party (damn you Ross Perot). Or their most poignant memory might be “I did not have sex with . . . . “ (President Bill Clinton). Sad really.
Our Nation’s rise under Reagan was meteoric and made fools of all the pundits, economists, and other naysayers. We all need to remind the Nation what Republican leadership can do. Even the George W. Bush years weren’t bad until Nancy Pelosi got her evil hands on the Speaker’s gavel. Certainly by every objective measure we were better off in January 2007 than we are today. We were even better off in January 2009 than we are today.
Watching Barack Obama I can understand why a 30 year old would be despondent – we older folks need to give them real hope for real change.