My Sunday Walk blog generated a thoughtful response from one of my favorite correspondents, the gist of which was that the article was full of gloom and doom; that I had painted a dark and hopeless picture prompting “a tsunami of despair.”
Ugh. That’s not hardly what I was trying to do. I like to think that I am a pretty optimistic guy. Like Percy Veerance “I don’t quit and I don’t cry; don’t shake my fist up at the sky. I just keep on pluggin’ along…”
Admittedly, my ruminations about the surge of Islamic terrorism and our national paralysis of foreign policy invoked a lot of eerie shadows dancing on the walls, and I suppose that my dissing of the White House didn’t sit well with some folks who like to look on the sunny side.
But that’s no reason to dig a bomb shelter and stock up on canned goods.
We survived Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. There’ll be an Obama Library some day, and I’ll want to visit it, too.
I just finished reading The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s a masterful work that follows the lives of Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft and a cadre of writers and journalists which came to be known as the muckrakers.
It’s fascinating to see how many things have remained the same and how vastly different other conditions have become. Obviously technology has skyrocketed since 1908. Air transportation, interstate highways, television, computers, Iphones and electronic gadgets that populate our kitchens were unknown to Roosevelt and Taft.
Still they were familiar with big corporations, banking conglomerates, the political influence of big money, the rough and tumble of Presidential politics.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, there was a wave of political reform sweeping across the land. Between February of 1913 and August of 1920, four amendments to the United States Constitution were adopted: The 16th Amendment, giving Congress the power to levy income taxes; the 17th Amendment requiring Senators to be elected state wide; the 18th Amendment prohibiting sale of alcoholic beverages; and the 20th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
At the same time many state constitutions were being amended to authorize popular voting in referenda, initiatives and recalls. In 1908 the Republican Party’s Presidential candidate, William Taft, finished third, behind the Progressive candidate, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.
It was an era when the notion of a “manifest destiny” for the United States, which originally defined expansion from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was exploding to include colonial possessions as distant as the Philippine Islands.
So here we are in the twenty-first century, the most powerful nation on earth, with military presence in more than 150 countries around the globe, engaged in some kind of warfare some place on the planet almost all the time.
We were on the winning side in WWII. Not so in the last 60 years. Clearly, we need a wave of political reform in America, much like we had in the Bull Moose era. There is nothing depressing about preaching political reform. It’s a cause that needs happy warriors.
Americans have always believed that the best is yet to come. We want our children to have a better life than we have had. In 2100, that ‘better life’ may not be measured in money or the things that money can buy.
My great grandson Henry was born at home and will be home schooled. I am confident that he will grow to manhood imbued with the Christian values that will enable him to live a meaningful, productive and happy life.
Presidents come and Presidents go. MSNBC and Fox News will not always be with us. But good people make great nations, and I am confident that there will be many, many good people in the United States of America in the twenty second century.