I am an unabashed child of the 80’s. In an era where there weren’t cell phones, internet or any of the modern luxuries we can’t do without, but isolate us further as people, we grew and prospered as people and as a country. A time when the Honda Civic was as big as the desk my computer sits on and when the Chevette was a very popular car was a good time to grow up. We used to play double or nothing in the mornings and go to the pool in the afternoon. We played kickball and basketball behind the elementary school, dodgeball was not considered bullying, and our elementary school had its own basketball team with cheerleaders. We played the other elementary schools in our city and to earn a trophy you had to win the league championship. Novel times.
Where has that all gone? Where’s the United States of old?
Much has changed since then. Flock of Seagulls is no longer; Duran Duran is much older and rock and roll is more about American Idol these days than about Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd-they have been relegated to Classic Rock stations. Worst of all, nothing in this day and age is about being accountable.
Schools promote kids that can’t read because they believe the children will be socially disadvantaged amongst their peers. Nevermind that they are setting them up for failure because their communication skills will be diminished. Never mind that the government has made a conscious decision to put these kids at risk and force their hands at an early age to become dependent on something other than themselves. It doesn’t matter anymore does it? We can spend ourselves into oblivion as a country because that is who we are and the government can print money when it needs it. We are all about our individual independence and less and less about American Independence.
That is where my country has gone. Any movement to restore responsibility to the hands of the individual is an attack that will place the victims (kids, seniors, minorities) squarely in the line of oncoming traffic. Republicans and the President both cling to Ronald Reagan in order to get political points like his legacy is now a marketing ploy. To quote him legitimizes someone’s position within the political arena, left or right these days, but it also diminishes the time.
The 80’s to me weren’t about Ronald Reagan being President and economic growth but they were about the belief that if we stood as Americans, together, we could stop any assault on our country. We were unafraid to be Americans. It didn’t matter what race we were.
I remember MTV and the early videos. U2 rose to musical power with the help of MTV and their early videos and, ironically, it was that Irish band that came and sang about all things that were great about America. Their album The Unforgettable Fire was a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and was the engine that took American ideals to the world. The United States experience of the 80’s is what the whole world is now searching for but cannot connect to because our message to the world is not the same. The uprisings around the world to me represent the multitudes not searching to be dominated by a government, but a yearning for the independence that United States stood for proudly during the 80’s and has fought for since its founding as a country. President Reagan’s speech at the Berlin Wall demanding that Gorbachev tear it down was the impetus for the movement that still moves throughout the globe.
We weren’t under the economic threat of destruction that covers the nightly news now and sees our own government try to negotiate with the S & P to effect our countries credit rating. Our government then wouldn’t have had to deal with this issue now because even though there were many political divides, there was a common goal–let’s do what we have to do to keep the United States the strongest and best country in the world.
Our government can’t get out of its own way now and the vitriol that runs throughout the halls of Congress is not about what is best for America but what is best for those who can lobby with the most amount of money. Many in our country feel we have too big an imprint in the world, I think the President is one of them, and these people feel we need to be taken down a notch. If we were reliving the 80’s again, politically, socially, and economically, those voices would be drowned out but the people who demonstrated in the 1960’s are now the ones behind the changing times. The older guard who actually fought for civil rights in the halls of Congress is retiring and there is a bitter fight now for each seat that is vacated.
The world needs America more than ever but our government either can’t seem to figure that out or doesn’t want to. Ferdinand Mount, who was the head of the policy unit for Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, wrote an editorial in 1976 stating, ” What the world needs now is more Americans. The U.S. is the 1st nation on earth deliberately dedicated to letting people choose what they want & giving them a chance to get it. For all it’s terrible faults, in one sense Am. still is the last, best hope for mankind, because it spells out so vividly the kind of happiness which most people actually want, regardless of what they are told they ought to want ” (emphasis mine).
Our government has forgotten or ignored this because they push regulations and laws down our throats we don’t need and don’t want. These laws and regulations continue to squeeze out the pride of the individuals fighting to make their dreams happen and use hard, proudly earned money to fatten our government by increasing the percentages of those on the government dole. Now, twenty years of cowardly politics has brought us to a plank we cannot walk and yet the politics, lies and demagoguery wages on.
I, like millions, have no idea where this is going. I only know it is not the same anymore and that is a shame. I don’t think we will be able to turn back the clock but I would like to see someone lead the attempt.