Attribute it to a loss of brain cells from using too many drugs in the 60s. Or maybe its the result of the two martini lunches of the 70s. Or perhaps the champagne parties celebrating the investment returns from the 80s and 90s. But the people who look back so fondly at the America of the Leave It To Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet days in the 50s have it all wrong.
They remember an America of a thriving middle class with white picket fences, big cars with fins and lots of chrome, and hula hoops. And theyre furious because they think that a socialist President is taking it all away from them. They whine that theyre overtaxed, underemployed and our budget is overspent. So theyre joining the Tea Party to take their America back with guns if necessary.
One wonders how they missed the fact that the top tax rate in the 1950s was more than 90 percent as compared to a highest rate of 35 percent now. How could they forget the oppression of African Americans who were segregated and denied the right to vote? How could they forget the days prior to adequate birth control when young women who became pregnant werent allowed to finish their high school education? How could they forget the talk of coat hangers and back-alley abortions prior to women gaining the right to a legal abortion? How could they forget the Cold War which threatened to annihilate us at any moment? And how could they possibly ignore the fact that it was so-called conservatives who de-regulated Wall Street and the oil markets?
It was conservatives who led the U.S. into globalization and the race to merge thriving companies into mega-corporations who would export our jobs. It was Reagan who led the fight against labor unions that negotiated decent wages and benefits. It was Reagan who cut taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes on the middle class by eliminating tax write-offs for interest payments on cars, credit cards and other purchases. And it was Reagan and George W. Bush who presided over the greatest deficit spending in U.S. history.
All of that is conveniently forgotten by the Palin-led and Fox-fueled Tea Party types who now blame all of our problems on a black President and Democratic Congress. How ironic that the Tea Party labels as Socialists, Communists and Nazis the very people who are fighting for the middle class … who are trying to end 30 years of upward wealth distribution by creating new green jobs, cleaning up our environment and rebuilding our failing infrastructure.
If the Tea Partiers succeed in throwing out the current government, they want to rewind the way-back clock to days when there were only white people on their block. When there were no Americans of non-Christian faith (except the Jews, who were tolerated because, after all, Christ was a Jew). When the only Latino they had to confront was Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. When they were free to discriminate against anyone; women, people of disabilities, the elderly, gays, the homeless the list was almost endless.
I lived through those days. And as far as Im concerned, the only people who could possibly long for a return to those days likely fit into three groups: Bigots, racists and the memory impaired.