Monday, February 20, 2012

Restore Point

"Restore America Now"

Okay, I'll bite. Restore America to what?

Calls for the restoration of the nation always strike me as some of the most silly political rhetoric that I've ever encountered. Part of it is the reversion to childhood idea that some commentators have described. American history, it has been noted, is taught roughly chronologically as one progresses through school. The Voyage of Columbus and other pre-United States American history begins in First Grade, and you move forward in time from there. Of course, it isn't an exact correlation. There's a decent amount of jumping around that happens. But by about the time you're in Junior High, you're more or less done with early American history. And the history that many people learn is geared for children, often quite young. And so, the reasoning goes, people tend to see early history as simple and positive. So it's easy to call for a return to such times, where all of the complications and difficulties of the modern world simply didn't exist.

I can buy that, I guess. But there's another thing that I've noticed. When was the last time you saw a politician talk about going back to the way things were in front of a predominantly non-White audience? I suspect that talking about a return of the values of the middle of the last century would go over like a lead balloon with an audience of say, Japanese-Americans. Giving a speech about how America needs to return to the rugged individualism that tamed the West would likely have you running for your life from a Native American or Chinese-American audience.

For all that, politicians, when confronted with such things, will say that when they restore America to some bygone age, they'll be careful to cherry-pick only the parts that worked for everyone. It's a pretty-sounding sentiment, but I can't imagine that you'd have very much of the past left to restore the nation to, if you did that. While sure, there were opportunities and prosperity then, those things had to costs to someone, just as they do now, and who will be willing to be thrown under the bus this time? And so this is a sentiment that works only for those people that didn't have to pay the price, have no real understanding of the price that needed to be paid and are unaware of what needed to be done to extract it from those who did pay.

No comments: