Thursday, November 10, 2016

Swinging Pendulums and Protests

Four years ago I sat down at my desk to write about my disappointment with the outcome of a Presidential election. My guy had lost. The punditry was unanimous in their belief that the Democratic Party was on the cusp of perhaps fifty years of dominance. For a small government, liberty-loving Libertarian like me, despair was a reasonable position. But the contrarian in me just couldn't bring myself to buy in to all the gloom and doom. You see, there's an advantage to being a student of history. Who knew that my History degree from the University of Richmond would come to my rescue at such a time as this?

So, I wrote what follows. I post it here as I watch footage of angry, disillusioned, mostly young people exercising their constitutional guaranteed right of protest, demonstrating in the streets. It's worth reading if you are angry about the election. It's also worth reading if you're excited and perhaps  feeling a little cocky. Take a look. . .

Now, to those of you who feel exultant as well as those of you who feel despair at the outcome of this election, I offer the following history lesson. The election of 2012 will usher in neither a 50 year reign of Democratic Party dominance, nor the death of the Republican party. How do I know this? History. Here’s my theory. In times of great uncertainty and tumult, the American people have often warmed up to a beefier, more aggressive and dominant attitude toward government. However, when the crisis passes, the American people have consistently preferred a lighter touch, as follows:

World War 1 and it’s upheaval usher in Woodrow Wilson and his merry band of Progressives bent on transforming American society. As soon as the war was over, and before the ink was even dry on the Treaty of Versailles, America quickly soured on Wilson’s Progressives and opted for 12 years of laissez faire Republicans. It was time to have fun and make money, and we did both in record breaking ways. Then the Great Depression and the rise of totalitarian regimes round the world ushered in FDR and the New Deal. Things got scary, so we wanted our government to beef up and protect us. After the war was over though, we got tired of all the fussiness, all the rules and regulations and do-gooders. It was time to rebuild, to get back to growing the economy and making some money. Yes, that nice man, General Eisenhower will do nicely. Then the civil rights movement and the social upheaval brought on by the war in Vietnam turned the sixties into a caldron of chaos. Whenever that happens, America turns to government and so we got LBJ and his Great Society’s war on poverty. Which was fine and dandy until the radicals started getting a little too weird. Then it was time for some law and order, and who better for that job than the Republicans and Richard Nixon? But, America doesn’t much care for paranoid crooks in the White House so we decided to give a big-toothed southerner a try. Thankfully Carter gave way rather quickly to Ronald Reagan. When he left and was replaced by his Vice-President, the first George Bush, the temptation was to believe that this time, the Democrats really WERE dead. Wrong again. Hello Bill Clinton.

The pattern should be pretty clear by now that the preferred political philosophy of the American people is highly fungible. The pendulum swings in slow motion sometimes, but it does swing. In 2012 America, has turned once again to Obama. We have experienced in the past ten years the worst terrorist attack in history and the second worst economic collapse in our history. Time for an aggressive, vigorous government. But, as sure as day follows night, these trying times will fade, this government will overreach, and the American people will tire of the Nanny state at some point.

That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. Oh, and one more thing. I’m going to do a better job of praying for the President than I did during his first term. Now that he’s our guy for another four years, he’s my guy too.

I'm going to refrain from criticizing anyone who protests an election for the first week or so after. I think there should be a grace period in politics, a cool down period where both sides can freak out freely. I very well remember some on the right who trotted out the not my President idiocy back in 2008 and 2012. Who can forget the 2000 protests against George W. Bush? In a bitterly divided nation like ours, this is what happens. But with time, most reasonable people will give the new guy a chance, albeit on a short leash.