The End of the Reagan Era

Maybe we’re indulging in some wishful thinking here. We’ve certainly seen a lot of it lately.

But we’re having a hard time seeing the normal things will return to. The normal of four weeks ago. Or forty years.

A defining moment of our adulthood — of two-thirds of our life, now — was the Reagan-Carter debate of 1980. You had to be there. Jimmy had not run the happy campaign of four years earlier. He was tired. The presidency, it was said, had become too much for one man. The weight of responsibility had worn him down.

The Seventies had been like that: The energy crisis, stagflation, Watergate, CIA hearings, hostages, disco — one horror after another. The reality of it was unavoidable. Whatever party America had enjoyed in the 50s and 60s was over.

Jimmy’s solution was to face it, address it, deal with it. “I will not lie to you,” he had said, and while that’s a promise no president can sustain, he did his best. And it was crushing him. He couldn’t offer sunny hope for the future. Nobody could, if they were being honest about it.

So that’s what Reagan did. He lied. Right to our face. On national TV.

At first it was laughable, wildly so. His weren’t subtle lies. America’s problems were easy to analyze, easy to solve. They would all go away with a wave of his hand. His was the path to happiness, the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. You just had to click your heels and believe.

That was the horror of it, as the evening wore on — Reagan offered the solution Americans wanted. Don’t deal with problems — ignore them. Pretend they didn’t exist. Pretend they could be solved — cured — with a magic elixir.

Americans wanted to be lied to. We knew it. We felt it. Reality had become too much to bear. Escape was the only solution. Reagan offered escape. Reagan was going to win.

He did. And now we’ve been living his lie for forty years.

Many of us, anyway. Plenty of us haven’t, plenty of us have remained stuck in reality, but we’ve been easily ignored. That’s the point, after all. You’re either in the bubble or not.

What we’ve learned about lies in the forty years since is how sustainable they are, at least in human terms. Things don’t fall apart overnight, at least until they do. Reality wins in the end — Nature Votes Last — but you can keep reality at bay for quite some time before it crashes the party.

We thought it would ultimately be global warming, but while that reality is happening now, it doesn’t get really nasty until the latter part of this century, after today’s partiers have checked out. They wouldn’t live to see the future they created, the reality they foisted on their progeny. They would die as blissfully as they lived, history’s winners.

We thought that until four weeks ago. Pandemics have a way of focusing your attention.

It’s not just the virus that’s sweeping the globe. It’s the consequences of it, the consequences we’re all facing, whatever reality we’ve been living in.

Suddenly — immediately — unemployment is surging, to levels not seen since the Great Depression. You may like your health insurance, but you can’t keep it if you lose your job, and it doesn’t save you from destitution if you really get sick.

And if you still have a job, you’re powerless against arbitrary decisions by your employer, because unions were just a hassle you believed you were better off living without.

But hey, you’ve been smartly managing your 401(k), so at least that’s still — oops.

And so on. Every lie of the past forty years, picked off by a sniper, one by one. Reality was easily ignored, until you found yourself part of it.

We’d like to think that settles the matter, that there’s no returning to the lies that brought us to this point, what passed as normal as long as you kept your blinders on and squinted real hard. It’s not that we think Americans will suddenly come to their senses — we’re not that stupid — but enough of them will, enough to make that incremental difference between a government that tries its best and that rancid murderous crew that’s running the joint right now.

Even that is wishful thinking, we’ll admit. Even now, four weeks into a reality that we’ll all be enduring for at least a year, we can’t be certain that enough people won’t be desperate to return to the lies that helped create this mess.

Lies are like that. People die easy. Lies die hard.

10 Comments

That last line may be the one that sums this whole thing for me.

/seen online/

Recessions have characterized ALL Republican administrations for decades. Most have been rooted in failure of oversight of financial institutions and industries, and massive deficits triggered by huge tax cuts designed to make wealthy individuals and corporations richer.

Reagan’s recession was triggered by massive tax cuts, then lax oversight of the S&L industry.

George H. W. Bush had a large recession in the early 90s, again triggered by huge tax cuts left over from Reagan.

Clinton cleaned up the economy and left in 2001 with a U.S. budget surplus.

George W. Bush caused the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, as lack of oversight of financial institutions led to runaway fraud by those institutions.

Obama cleaned up the economy, restored a measure of oversight; the stock market rose from about 7500 when he began, to 19,800 on 1/21/2017.

Now Trump. Trump’s recession has elements of all these, but adds a corrupt, evil character with no regard for Americans’ lives, health and safety. It has been magnified by his psychopathy, incessant lying, deception, attempts to rewrite history, finger pointing, conspiracy theorizing and lack of grounding in reality. It has, as well, been abetted by hordes of greedy, corrupt and malignant Republicans whose only goals are more money and power, plus tremendous desire to harm those who are least able to defend themselves.

These crises all happened under Republican administrations. It wasn’t that the country was simply unprepared, it was purposely crippled each time due to incompetence, malice, and greed. Each time a Democratic administration had to come in and fix things. There were three pandemics that occurred during the Obama administration and those were handled expertly, all while keeping the economic recovery from the 2008 recession going – well enough that it took Traitor Trump three years to finally destroy it, along with vital parts of the government. And now the Republicans, through Trump, have openly admitted that they’re trying to sabotage all elections so that they can continue to destroy the country and the people in it while they find ways to profit from the destruction.

I have some previously scheduled time off coming up that I’m gonna take, and I’m thinking about taking a news vacation combined with total denial and an endless supply of marijuana.
“This is the worst thing Tr666p has done since this whole fiasco began,” my hubby will run in and proclaim, while clutching his phone.
“Since what began?” I’ll blissfully smile in reply as he frowns and backs out of the room.

@¡Andrew!:
Don’t start living in a Glass Menagerie

From the Department of Could Have Seen This Coming:

Republican fundraiser pivots to selling PPE

Look for the Kushner/Trump silent partners.

Well said, as usual. Many very sharp darts have been thrown at the trickle-down, unionless, market-based-retirement, fake-fear-warmongering etc. balloon of hot air Reagan inflated and that was kept inflated by the Newts, the Bushes, the McConnells all these years. Those darts have largely bounced right off.
Maybe it’s just got to pop on its own.

Captain Crozier who got shit on by Navy Sec Shithead who got shit on by the biggest shithead (hint: it’s Donald.)

Former Sec Navy Moldy fired from a 16 inch turret of the USS Missouri.

@ManchuCandidate: He’s lucky he didn’t get fragged while disembarking from the ship. Whatever. The military is still going to vote for Prezirapist AntiChrist to continue his abusive dicktator terrorist attack against us, so screw them.

Bernie’s out. Let the moral preening begin!

@nojo: It’s always nice to know that the last two years of Democratic campaigning have been a total waste of time and munnie.

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