Did you watch "The '80s" documentry on the National Geographic channel? What a terrific program. It highlighted the major events and developments of the era and showed how today's technology and culture took root in the decade of leg warmers and shoulder pads. It didn't pull any punches. Some things were good, some things were bad. And some things (the Challenger disaster) should not have happened.
The series opened with a review of The Miracle on Ice, when the US hockey team kicked the teeth out of a bunch of Russian commie punks at the 1980 Olympics.
Leading up to that event was a description of a poor economey, high gas prices, high unemployment, a lot of hard knocks (the aftermath of Vietnam, the Iranian hostage crisis), people feeling down about themselves and the country and looking for something--anything--to make them feel good again. Enter the 1980 Olympic hockey team. And Ronald Reagan with his optimism and enthusiasm about how great America was and could be again.
It's hard not to make a connection between 1980 and 2013.
Poor economy, high gas prices, high unemployment, continuous war, a lot of hard knocks (school shootings, natural disasters, terrorism overseas and at home).
But there are huge differences, too. Overall, people are feeling pretty good. Nobody is missing any meals, most bills are getting paid (except for the one or two people featured on the news but the only reason they're not eating is because they're too proud to go on welfare). There seems to be no shortage of money. Working in downtown San Francisco, I always see full restaurants. The sidewalks are full of people in business attire and the streets are stuffed with cars.
The mall parking lot is always full.
All of this despite the fact that Mr. Obama (Bless His Holy Name) leads with the greatest example of mediocraty since Ulyses S. Grant. People seem to like him and his message of lowered expectations.
I don't see a lot of people struggling. Unless they're struggling with a hangover.
A long time ago, in a decade far, far away, we were down and needed a boost. We got it with the Olympic team. I'm not sure where we are in 2013. We're fat and happy while we keep our fingers in the dyke as the ship sinks. We're happy as long as there are plenty of circuses and football games to watch. Reality TV offers an easy escape from....what? What misery are we hiding from? Why even have a Misery Index anymore?
Considering the times, we're way, way too happy.
America sure has changed. I'm not sure we'll ever see a 1980s America again. Maybe that's a good thing. But I sure like a strong economy. I like optimism. I like a leader who understands we're a great nation that can do great things that is too good for a handout and should be insulted by income redistribution.
Maybe I'm getting too far ahead. Perhaps, like the alcoholilc, we haven't hit rock bottom yet. We're not vomiting in the gutter and getting kicked out of the house because we can't control ourselves. Perhaps a harder fall is coming than the one we took in 2008, and maybe that will bring us back to the conditions we faced as the '80s began. We need it. And then we'll be desperate for a reason to feel good again. We'll need an equivielent of a 1980 Olympic hockey team and a new leader to remind us that we are a great people made for great things and can stand up to great opposition and weren't made for handouts and income redistribution.
Right now it doens't look like we'll get there. But there was also a time, in the 1980s, when it seemed like the party would never end. Maybe in ten years I'll write another article about how we came back.
I sure hope so.