Nostalgic Nitwits

A newspaper publisher friend of mine often tells the story of a mentor of his who liked to say that, “The good old days weren’t really that good after all.” In reality they simply are not coming back. A lot of Trump voters and still (for the time being anyway) Trump supporters would be wise to heed those words. Let’s explore.

Things ebb and flow in America but over any length of time we are an increasingly better place to live. Let’s take my lifetime. I was born in 1952 when discrimination was basically legal, via Jim Crow, in a large section of this country. In fact as late as when I was in high school interracial marriage was illegal in about one-third of the states. Today same sex civil marriage, let alone interracial, is the law of the land. If you had a television, and few families did, it was black and white. If you wanted to change the channel (there were only two in many major cities; despite living in a big city I remember ABC coming to town) you got out of your chair and walked over to the television.

Wanted some information; go to the library and look it up. The internet, PC and iPad weren’t even science fiction yet. If you had a telephone it was a party line that you shared with probably three other families. That’s right kids, no iPhones.

I could go on but I don’t want to bore you or sound like a cranky old man. By the way I’d didn’t walk five miles to school, uphill both ways – I rode the bus and it wasn’t all that bad. My point is average Americans are much better off today. I don’t want to go back and give up all those social and creature comfort advancements. Just a note: those technological and social advancements made America much more productive.

I originally come from what is now known as the Rust Belt. In my youth it was a land of good factory jobs where a high school education (if that) and keeping out of jail was all that was required to get a job at an auto plant or steel mill. There your work was almost always boring and often dangerous but you were well compensated and could live the American dream complete with self-respect. In places like West Virginia you could leave school and as long as you stayed on the right side of the law get a job in coal mining. It was dangerous and unhealthy work but it also paid well.

In 2016 many still living in those regions who long ago lost their factory, mill or mining jobs voted for Donald Trump who promised to, “Make America great again.” They bought the promise of the good old days coming back complete with their jobs. Here are two reality checks: the jobs aren’t coming back and the good old days weren’t really that good!

In the controversy over the confederate flag and various statues many have protested their removal because they say it is destroying their heritage. In reality they are longing for a return to the day when having a white penis was all you needed to be at least somewhat successful in life. That would mean that we would automatically make all females and non-white males second class citizens who would have to wait in line until all the white men had jobs including all the powerful ones. Does anyone really think that would make for the most productive America? Why should your shiftless son have a more important job and make more money than your industrious, educated daughter?

America has problems and always will. After all we are constantly pursuing a more perfect union. With the election of Donald Trump we have and will for a short time experience a slight backslide. I will admit there are a few (very few) things about the good old days that I miss; but on net I’m elated that we have moved forward. When the jobs fail to reappear and their standard of living declines, many of those who reached out for something different or just cast a protest vote by voting for Trump will come to agree with me. Those who refuse to accept reality I chose to call nostalgic nitwits.

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