JOPLIN, Mo. —
I belong to that group of Americans born at the end of the baby boom generation but before Generation X.
Born too late for “Howdy Doody” and “The Mickey Mouse Club,” too old to be mentored by Big Bird and Oscar, we grew up sandwiched between the white Wonder Bread of the 1950s and the multigrain mix of the 1970s.
We didn’t march on Selma or descend on Haight-Ashbury. Dealy Plaza, the Ambassador Hotel and Memphis are historical places rather than events seared in memory. And while we were lucky enough to have missed Vietnam, there was no escaping the aftermath.
Our teen years began with the resignation of Richard Nixon and ended with the election of Ronald Reagan. We started high school with Jimmy Carter’s “that even our great nation has its recognized limits, and that we can neither answer all questions nor solve all problems.” We ended high school under the “malaise” that his own inept leadership created.
We’ve experienced double-digit mortgage rates and the fall of the Berlin Wall, rode the peace dividend and tech wave right up to the dot-com bust and recoiled in anguish as the towers fell.
In one decade, we went from the complete loss of trust in government (Nixon) to one department after another created (Carter) to “fix” the very problems said government was creating.
From our perspective, if America could survive the ’70s, she could survive anything. Anything, that is, except going back.
One would think that, having a decade of so many failures so recent in our history, we’d have learned our lesson. Yet here we are, stuck with a federal government bigger and more intrusive than ever. One could argue there was more control under World War II rationing, but that was with the consent of the people united behind a common cause of defeating an enemy that threatened our existence. What is emanating out of Washington today is anything but the “will of the people.”
For the sake of a political philosophy espoused by an elite and connected political class, America is being forced into a “transformation” that tens of millions do not want. A transformation that, if not stopped, will leave us all stripped bare of our founding principles and the constitutional rights and liberties so many before us gave their all to protect.
Too melodramatic? Think about it.
Think about a National Security Agency that so easily moved from foreign surveillance to scooping up data on each and every American citizen; think about a government that forces the survivors of the Benghazi attack to sign nondisclosure agreements to protect the politicians at the expense of the fallen; think about an IRS that targets political opponents and silences political speech; think about a government that says we’re in recovery because inflation is in check but doesn’t include the cost of energy and food, the two items most needed to live; think about $4 gas and skyrocketing electric rates caused by an EPA pushing an ideology of diminishing returns over sound cost-benefit policy; think about real employment being in double digits; think about a single government database containing all your personal health and financial records open to abuses not yet imagined.
Think about the damage being done and the mess we’re leaving behind, and you just might find yourself thinking what I’m thinking:
All of a sudden, the ’70s don’t look so bad.
Geoff Caldwell lives in Joplin.