Sunday, March 21, 2010

The American Icarus

The American Icarus

There are certain laws of nature that no one can amend or avoid. In the classic Greek tale of Icarus, despite warnings Icarus flew too close to the sun, melted the wax that held the feathers that had given him the gift of flight, and falls to his death. The law of gravity contributed to his end because what goes up must come down.

These days I think of the nation in general and the Democrats in Congress in particular as Icarus. They have ignored all the warnings about Obamacare and now have the political trajectory of a rock tossed too high in the air.

The voters reaction to the excesses of the Bush administration—-which now seem minor in comparison to those of the Democrats—-catapulted a virtually unknown and literally unvetted, minor first-term senator from Illinois into the Oval Office. The voters had first expressed their unhappiness in 2006 when control of Congress passed from the Republicans.

It seems to me that Americans have been unhappy for a very long time, but I can recall few decades when they were happy. With World War Two behind them, Americans launched themselves into the 1950s with enthusiasm, getting married, having babies, and building an economy that was unrivaled. America became the lone superpower.

By the 1960s, though, things began to sour. A generation of young people began to question all the values that had served their parents and grandparents well. The civil rights movement emerged and by the end of the decade the nation was mired in a war in Vietnam most people did not support. It would result in the death of more than 50,000 of our youth. A drug culture began to take root.

The signal political change during the 1960s was the implementation of Medicare in 1965, a significant expansion of Social Security. It quickly exceeded its projected costs.

By the 1970s, despite the inspiration of having begun to explore space, putting men on the Moon in 1969, and an abundance of material goods, America’s mood was growing dark. Between 1972 and 1974, the Watergate scandal dragged on until the first and only resignation of a president ended it.

In 1973 abortion was legalized. The feminist movement gained momentum. As the decade ended in 1979 Iranians seized U.S. diplomats, holding them hostage for 444 days.

The 1980s were, for conservatives, a golden age led by Ronald Reagan. The economy improved and, in general, so did the mood of the nation. It was also a time in which Islam began to reassert itself with a series of terrorist acts. Democrats in Congress continued to be in control.

At the end of Reagan’s term, George H.W. Bush, his vice president, was elected in 1988, but despite a military campaign to contain Saddam Hussein, the voters opted for a young Arkansas Governor named Bill Clinton.

What came to be seen as a series of excesses by liberal Democrats led to the defeat of the Clinton Medicare expansion effort and, in 1994, Congressional power was transferred to the Republican Party for the first time in some 40 years!

Clinton, despite being reelected, proved to be a major embarrassment to the nation as the result of his sexual appetites. Popular to the end with most Democrats, he would be replaced by George W. Bush as the new century began in 2000.

If the mood of the nation was one of cautious optimism, that changed dramatically on September 11, 2001. Fear swept the nation and a desire to punish the stateless terror inflicted led also to a decision by Bush to alter the direction of the Middle East by removing Saddam Hussein from power. Despite a brilliant initial dash to Baghdad the Iraq war was plagued with a cascade of bad decisions.

A sudden financial crisis toward the end of the 2008 political campaign returned a Democrat to the White House. It has taken just over a year for Barack Hussein Obama to see his performance ratings plummet from around 70 percent to around 40 percent these days. He is rivaling the worse ratings for any president since such polls began.

The bruising battle over the expansion of Medicare at a time of high unemployment and the imposition of high levels of national debt will likely push the President’s ratings even lower before the year is out.

What has been discussed here is not a rising curve of optimism for the future of the nation, but a declining one made worse and seriously endangered by irrational borrowing and spending.

Like Icarus, the nation has flown too close to its source of life, weakened its economic foundations, gave itself over to the greatest hoax of the modern era, global warming, and now has witnessed a Democrat controlled Congress do what most voters opposed.

America has weathered previous crisis, but there is a growing sense that its future is in the hands of people who do not like America, do not like its slow, methodical way of debating and reflecting the will of the people, and who threaten liberties its citizens have taken for granted.

Weighed down by growing debt, threatened by expanded “entitlement” programs that promise to grow that debt while subjecting Americans to higher taxation, the mood of the nation has rarely been at such a critical and dour point.

Gravity is about to have its way with the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

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