Moderation today is increasingly a memory, but senior citizens can help
By Thomas Richard Harry
Noting an apparent dearth of public political comment from senior citizens as the current presidential campaign is playing out, I’m considering starting another writing forum aside from The American Family Gazette where I post my jottings now. It will not be only for my writings, but for others who wish to contribute, who still have a sense of moderation, who believe they have something relevant to say, and are looking for a venue to say it. The only eligibility will be that they must qualify for AARP services. Those are the “young-old,” of course, but the old-old and maybe even the elderly (maybe) would be welcome. Here’s what I’m thinking of calling it:
Old Fart’s Forum
An opinion page full of
(Political Opinions of Older Persons)
In my assessment we’re wasting or at least ignoring a huge trove of national experience, much of which would pass as wisdom. If you’re old today, not many are interested in what you have to say. Our national leadership — fewer of who exceed the “young-old” today — might well benefit from this collective experience and senior counsel when considering the how and why of doing “the right things to do.” It would counsel them in the way things and events really were as opposed to how they may be too often perceived from their limited youthful experience of today. It would be first hand poop. Let me give you a for instance:
At the VP debate last week, Paul Ryan, when pushed for specific details on budget-cuts in the Romney deficit reduction plan, fell back on the argument that — not to worry — these would be negotiated between the White House and Congress, “just as President Reagan and Tip O’Neill worked such details out in 1985.” No sweat, apparently. We’ll work it out, even though this is the political world of 2012, not 1985. Our Republican candidate for the vice presidency was about fifteen years old when this (tax) negotiation took place. What he evidently doesn’t know (and no one old enough to recall has told him) is that President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill could never “work things out,” as he suggested. That’s historical revisionism; fiction, actually.
The memory of the relationship between these two leaders from someone who was “old” even at the time but present during those times tells us that, “Although photographs taken after their meetings suggested a sort of underlying Irish camaraderie between the two men, the reality was that they were hammer and anvil. O’Neill seemed determined to dislike Reagan and disagree with him, and sparks flew as a result. This antipathy to Reagan affected nearly every issue.” Still, the VP nominee was right: a compromise between the White House and Congress was finally reached, but it was almost in spite of the relationship between the President and the Speaker, not due to it.
So, okay, he was off a bit on his historical facts. Should we take him out back and shoot him? Is that a real serious fault? In and of itself not really, but it does suggest the value of access to accumulated knowledge. And more importantly, it highlights another point that not only Representative Ryan (certainly knows) and the American voting public should not lose sight of: the political ideological gulf that has widened between the parties since then.
The compromise he referred to was made possible because political moderates still held influential positions in both the White House and Congress. How many of you believe such a condition still exists in Washington today, raise your hands? Yeah, I agree. Moderation today is increasingly a memory, mostly of those of us who are, in one way or another “old”. We remember it, and could perhaps remind today’s seemingly self-important Blue Dogs, or Tea partiers or senators from Kentucky who seem to resist moderation as if it were a social disease that they only represent “some of us”, and it’s government’s responsibility to represent at least most of us, at least most of the time. Only something called moderation, resulting in reasonable accommodation can achieve that in a democracy such as we are privileged to (still) have.
So, get your acts together gentlemen. Start campaigning in a manner that tell us — the young and old, conservatives and liberals all of us, how you’re going to come together and govern, not just practice politics for the sake of politics. We need a change.
I think many of you — on both sides of the aisle and at each end of Pennsylvania Avenue — could probably benefit enormously from a goodly portion of poop I’m recommending! *
* Served up here, admittedly, with a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek.
Thomas Richard Harry is a graduate of UC Berkeley (BA) and New York University (MBA) and has a diverse background in international banking and business. He was a third-party candidate for the United States Senate in 2000. A private critical essayist on political issues, BOOM! A Revolting Situation is his third book. Staying close to his native Californian roots, he now lives with his wife in Windsor, California.