Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reflecting on the Presidents of my Lifetime

I was born in 1970 during Richard Nixon's run as President of the United States. Naturally, since I was a mere child, who he was mattered for zilch to me. I had no reason to care. But lots of people did care since the man resigned over the whole Watergate thing. But I wouldn't learn about that for 10 years yet, give or take a couple. You know,because of a thing called History class.

I had no reason to care about Gerald Ford either. I was in kindergarten and my circle of focus was very small. As it is for any kid really. What matters to you at that age anyway? Food, clothes, school, a few friends, and that's about it.

But if you look at Ford's presidential report card (so to speak) you see something interesting. I'm going to take a quote from the page, but you can read all about it HERE.

Ford's presidency, then, was marked by three elements. First, Ford faced extraordinary challenges, especially involving the nation's economic woes, which he struggled to solve. Second, Ford had difficulty navigating a demanding political environment in which Democrats (from across the ideological spectrum) and conservative Republicans found fault with his leadership and his foreign and domestic policies. The combination of these first two elements helped bring about Ford's defeat in 1976. Just as surely, though, a third dimension of Ford's presidency deserves recognition: Americans, by and large, believed that Gerald Ford was an innately decent and good man and that he would (and did) bring honor to the White House. Although this sentiment proved too little to bring Ford to victory in 1976, it is an assessment that most Americans and scholars still find valid in the years after his presidency.

Take note that Congress was controlled by Democrats and that created severe adversity for him as President. Take special note of that, please. It bears historical significance.

I was 6 years old in 1976 and here was Jimmy Carter (actually took office in 1977). I remember seeing him on television, but that's about all I remember of him. Of course I was in maybe 1st grade by this point. So once again, who this man was mattered not at all to me. But to look back from today, Jimmy Carter inherited a very similar state that Obama did. How? Well HERE and here: 

Carter took office just thirty months after a President had left the entire federal government in a shambles. He faced epic challenges—the energy crisis, Soviet aggression, Iran, and above all, a deep mistrust of leadership by his citizens. He was hard working and conscientious. But he often seemed like a player out of position, a man more suited to be secretary of energy than president. Carter became President by narrowly defeating an uninspiring, unelected chief executive heir to the worst presidential scandal in history. The nomination was his largely because in the decade before 1976, Democratic leadership in the nation had been decimated by scandal, Vietnam, and an assassination.

Because of this and his struggles he was viewed as a "weak and inefficient" President. But today, I hear people say "Now that was a real President." It's funny to me how most of those people aren't any older than I am. Many of them are younger. That means they had no idea what the world situation was like and it sucked. I know that Carter tries to advise Presidents of today based on his experiences, but they usually ignore him. That's what you get for being a moral man in an immoral world.

In 1980 I was 10 years old and Ronald Reagan took over. Now here was a man everyone thought would get things done because "he's not a politician". Sound familiar? He wasn't a politician either, until he ran for President. I don't care who you are, if you run for President, you are a politician. Congrats! Yeah, he was an actor. Well, guess what actors do for a living? Being a politician is a snap next to that. One point still stands that he didn't really matter to me. He mattered to my parents. He mattered to adults. But I really saw no differences in life. 

But you know what? That man actually did get things done. Thanks to the meetings between him and then Russian leader, Gorbachev, the cold war essentially ended. Read about that HERE.


Reagan's economic legacy is mixed. On the one hand, tax reduction and a tightening of interest rates by the Federal Reserve led to a record period of peacetime economic growth. On the other, this growth was accompanied by record growth in the national debt, the federal budget deficit, and the trade deficit. Defenders of Reagan's economic record point out that a big chunk of the deficit was caused by increased military spending, which declined after the Soviet collapse and created the context for balanced budgets during the Clinton years. Even so, the supply-side tax cuts did not produce the increase in revenues that Reagan had predicted. The economist Robert Samuelson has suggested that Reagan's main achievement in the economic arena was his consistent support of the Federal Reserve, which under Reagan's appointee Alan Greenspan, followed monetary policies that kept inflation low. Reagan also succeeded in a principal goal of reducing the marginal income tax rate, which was 70 percent when he took office and 28 percent when he left.

Before anyone jumps on me, yes I know that there were a lot of people fighting for rights of all kinds during these administrations. Take notice that those subjects are NOT what this post is about. 

Reagan held his post for 8 years and did well enough that when George Bush (prior Vice President) it seemed like the way to go for voters. I was 19 and joining the Army at the time. Again, I give you a link to read up about his Presidency and it's legacy HERE

But this quote seems to say it all for how that went, never mind his famous "read my lips" business:

Generally the Bush presidency is viewed as successful in foreign affairs but a disappointment in domestic affairs. In the minds of voters, his achievements in foreign policy were not enough to overshadow the economic recession, and in 1992, the American public voted for change.

For me, I remember a lot of complaining about ol George, even from fellow soldiers and drill sergeants. But I wasn't involved in politics. I wasn't even voting yet. I didn't even register to vote until the Clinton era (if memory serves). No one taught me that I should vote. I knew next to nothing about it. But I did see strife in the common person. That was enough for me. 

Ask yourself this question: How do you earn a second term as President? By doing something right by the people. You have to admit that if a President really did screw up that badly, the common person would not vote for him again. History seems to support this. It's why Reagan held his post for 8 years and why Clinton held his for 8 years. Clinton wasn't your typical democrat as you can read HERE

And to quote a section:  

Clinton managed to remake the image and operations of the Democratic Party in ways that effectively undermined the so-called Reagan Revolution. His "New Democrat" Party co-opted the Reagan appeal to law and order, individualism, and welfare reform, and made the party more attractive to white middle-class Americans.

Clinton was the first President that actually mattered to me. He was reported to have held up more campaign promises than any President since JFK. And I still didn't know much about what being President really meant. I was young yet, in my early twenties. What do you care about in your early twenties after all? It seems interesting to me, as I look back, that we have a repeating history of someone who makes a mess of domestic affairs (who only gets one 4 year run) followed by someone who has to play clean up and earns two runs. Trend? Who knows. The Clintons may have been a family of great scandal, but they did do some things right. It was that scandal that changed things back to the Republicans when Al Gore ran for President. That paved the way for a whole new set of disasters.

Let's face it, if Clinton could have kept it in his pants, he and his wife would probably never have been scrutinized so closely, destroying their reputation completely. And we would have a very different political environment today. 

I have to admit, in his first four years, George W whupped some ass. No, he did. Of course LINK
He was responsible for the No Child Left Behind program that set way for astounding changes in our educational system. He responded to 911 without hesitation (do NOT start throwing conspiracy theories at me).  But this quote probably says it best:

As President, Bush became a lightning rod for controversy. His controversial election and policies, especially the war in Iraq, deeply divided the American people.

He's still heralded a hero to the upper class because he made things rosy for them. But everyone else was really feeling the pain by the time of his second term (that he earned by his war mongering). How? Well they refused to call it a "depression", but that's about what it was that went hand in hand with the housing collapse that our country still hasn't fully recovered from. You know, the one that put millions of families out of their homes with no legal recourse? It was Bush Jr. who set my views of the Republican party. His forcing of welfare recipients to "work" whether they were physically able or not paved a way to distrust from the entire disabled community. It was found unconstitutional and discontinued (thankfully for a lot of people). These events practically destroyed the middle class and were the beginnings of the divisions we see people blame Obama for today. It was after seeing people in wheelchairs with oxygen tanks forced into slave labor that I decided I would never vote for  a Republican. NEVER. Mind you I don't like either side of the system, but I've been hurt by the Republican party personally so... let's get on with it.

That's what really taught me how politics can affect people. So when Obama came along and I learned about him. I voted for him. But then I would see new disappointments. Unfortunately the Miller Center didn't have a page for him for me to link. Of all the elections of any level that I had witnessed, I never saw political mudslinging like I saw directed at Obama. Even now, people are still screaming that he wasn't and isn't an American citizen. It's been proven that he is and was, but it continues. That behavior and my past experiences only served to concrete my vote for him both times. 

But he did step on some toes to put it lightly. The Affordable Care Act was not received well by insurance companies, so they turned around and screwed a lot of people to save their own budgets. That, of course, received no corrective action. Like Jimmy Carter (remember the historical significance I mentioned above?) he came into office with a Republican controlled Congress that shut down the government twice with their temper tantrums over Obama. Was there also racism or religious hate against him? Absolutely. People on the net still blast him for being "Muslim" when we are supposed to support Freedom of Religion. He did piss people off though, especially the upper class with the whole "redistribution of wealth" idea. Socialism is a very scary word, especially to the extreme Republican. Oh, but please note the educational pic I'm adding. Very interesting and accurate. 

Yeah, he pissed people off, but he was also the most opposed President in office in our recent history. Opposed more than Jimmy Carter was. Every single thing he did was automatically blown out of proportion and rebelled against. But you didn't see him tweeting about it.

That's how it all came to be for me. I don't like our current political system. I think the whole Dems versus Reps is exactly what's tearing the country in half, like it did for the Civil War. As I look back at past Presidents and their elections, it seems to me that at least there was a candidate worth looking at. I didn't want Hillary any more than Trump. Neither side can be reasoned with without degenerating into slurs and fighting. I'm sure someone will attack me for what I've written here and I'll be called a Libtard (I am not a Liberal) or Obama lover (also not). But I know that those attacks seem to come exclusively from Republicans, and to that I will say, while I don't agree with the Democrat side either, I have never been attacked by them, bullied by them, put down by them, etc. Yes, I see what they've done in riots and I don't agree with that either, but my point stands. If you want me to listen to you and you call me names, it won't happen.

Sorry this is so long, but it seemed to need it. Peace out.