Sunday, December 27, 2009

End of the Decade Blog

The last year of the first decade of the 21st century ends and the first year of the second decade of the 21st century begins.

I was born during the second year of the second half of the 20th century when Harry Truman was a lame duck. So I was really an Eisenhower baby. Eisenhower was the only Republican candidate for president my father ever voted for. A working-class New York Jew, Irving Siegel broke from his New Deal roots to support the guy he called “his general.”

I watched John Kennedy wave from his convertible passing through Bensonhurst Brooklyn in 1960 and knew, three years later, that the rumor that he was dead was true when I saw the flag at half mast as I left junior high school.

I never really hated Lyndon Johnson even though I was rapidly radicalizing by the time he packed in his presidency. Even then, I was pulled to the center (I wore a “McCarthy supporters for Humphrey” button).

Nixon I hated, of course, and was certain that Watergate meant that conservatives were toast. I drank fairly heavily the night Reagan was elected and my father died the day before he was inaugurated.

I don’t want to talk about Michael Dukakis.

I loved watching Bill Clinton speak and constantly defended him. Then I just assumed that George W. Bush was a one-termer.

When Kerry lost I was worried sick that right wingers would rule for the rest of my life but then the Democrats took the Congress in ’06 and I cheered up. When the results came in on Obama’s election night I hugged a lot of strangers.

I’ve been on the Democratic Left for more than 40 years and have worked in the Labor Movement in Los Angeles since 1986.

Sometimes I’m pulled toward radical left ideology, but I’m more comfortable as an ordinary American. That can happen when you work with unions and their members.

You don’t have to be a genius to know that the Obama-era would be tough, that the new president was going to protect “elites” and piss-off his base.

Just like everyone else, I’m vulnerable to speculation that Obama was naive, timid, fearful, overly compromised and - oh no! - not really one of us; that he, his circle and Congressional Democrats have already blown it; and that our opponents are on their way again to steering the country back toward their particular brand of authoritarianism.

But, guess what, I’m not convinced.

Barack Obama is my 12th president, my sixth Democrat and the first one who’s younger than me.

It’s almost hard to believe that he’s still in the first year of his first term.

So, for God’s sake, don’t be gloomy. Democrats should enjoy the fact that we’ve gotten at least this far. Consider the alternative.

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