I was reading an interview with David O. Russel in the I Heart Huckabees script last night and he said something that really stuck with me, and that was something to the effect of that American's have a short term memory, politically. He was flabbergasted when Ronald Reagan died and the media was portraying him as such a great man and a significant leader. I felt confused, too, because I remember Reagan's much decried economic ideology and his decline in popularity as a result of the Iran Contra affair. True, Reagan did play a role in the end of the cold war, but he left behind many problems when Bush, then Clinton took over, some of which are still prevalent and are even getting worse.
Now the Reagan thing is kind of tangential, but I thought Russel's simple observation about Americans having such a short memory is incredibly prescient right now, especially considering Bush's campaign promises and what he has done since regaining the Presidency. It seems clear that Bush and his regime are using our intense political complacency against us. Dick Cheney is claiming that he will use a questionable tactic to break a Senatorial filibuster on the appointment of ultra-conservative Supreme Court Judges. Bush ran on the notion that he has done well in protecting America from terrorist attacks and that his opponent would have been inadequate in this regard. Yet, he has made it clear so far in his first few months that he's clearly repaying his corporate cronies by promising tort reform, privatizing social security, rolling back bankruptcy and continuing his overall assault on American's civil liberties.
The rollbacks are spreading fear and elation alike that our country is regressing to a more conservative society. However, one hopes that this movement will create the kinds of dialogues in art, politics, and culture in general that have been so important in subverting such periods in any era, not just contemporary American history. We can all look forward to a further polarization between the elite and those oppressed, but it can't last long. Some of the most exciting and bold changes take place after a long and bitter war for a return to supposed innocence.
In the context of the bigger picture, America has continued to be progressive in a number of ways that can't be negated so easily. Although the state of Civil rights still inspires a desire for more change, we are a society that has universally embraced the ideal of equal rights, even though it fails to appear that way from time to time. There is also a growing moderate contingency of unaffiliated voters and thinkers who tend to vote their conscience and their heart, striking a balance between the two extremes. I hope and believe that many politicians will recognize the absurdity of this tendency towards roll-backs and draw a definitive line as to when enough is enough. Eventually the scales will be tipped back into balance. One doesn't wish to see them tip too severly the other direction, as it seems that is what we are currently experiencing.
It is a confusing time for those of us who liked pre-9/11 America and there is potential for us to return to that state. We just can't make the mistake of becoming too short-sighted. Bush and his administration may succeed in enacting several stopgap policy initiatives, but those of us who can see the bigger picture know that we will live to fight another day. The hearts and minds of Americans are easily won over by fiery rhetoric in times of uncertainty. Unfortunately George Bush has created and perpetuated a time of uncertainty, which makes his current agenda incredibly vulnerable to those of us who are patient enough to seize the moment when the timing is right.