Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to the Fifties?

Republican voters are flocking to Rick Santorum (or so he says) because he is leading the charge back to the mid-twentieth century. Actually, I can sympathize with their desire for a return to what we believed was a simpler time. Eisenhower was president! As long as there was a light on in the White House we knew he was taking care of us, even after he had his stroke and started talking funny. It's true that Rick Santorum is no Dwight Eisenhower. I don't think anyone would argue with that. But what if he could really bring back the fifties? Wouldn't that be nice?

Of course that depends on how nice the fifties were for you. If you were a Black person, maybe the fifties weren't so hot, what with sitting in the back of the bus, getting turned away from the lunch counter, and being treated with disrespect generally. If you were a girl having a baby out of wedlock, maybe not so nice either. You would have to give up your sweet little baby to be raised by strangers so that he could have a name and a legitimate place in society. But, say, if you were white and never had sex for pleasure, or outside of marriage, great times.

Especially for white boys. Oh, wait, there was the draft. If you weren't of a military turn of mind you had to have a really good story for your draft board, sole support of your widowed mother, tear stains on the application for exemption, and even then they might take you. Elvis himself, in mid-career, was sent to Germany wearing Modern Army Green.

But we were safe in the fifties, as long as we didn't get so far out of line that we attracted the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Maybe not in our cars. There weren't any seat belts. Maybe not in our houses, what with one thing and another. In our schools, certainly. All of us knew to get under our desks when the Russians dropped The Bomb on us.  Those crazy Russians. They hated us so much for being free.

As much as I loathe the twenty-first century, global warming, Islamist terrorism, uncomfortable air travel, bad manners, Chinese poison in the cat food, beach-front high-rise condos, the plague of plastic bags, I'm not sure I would want to go back to the nineteen-fifties, even if Santorum really had it in his power to take me there. And, you know what? he doesn't. None of them do. We're going to have to sort this mess out ourselves.