The year was 1957. 1957 not only represents the height of the baby boomer generation but new research shown on a PBS show recently, had a surprising finding. When people associated with the Tea Party were asked the question what would life look like if you had your way in this country, what year would you like to go back to? Well, you guessed it, the year was not 1776, but 1957.
Nostalgically, let’s go back for a moment and try to capture what life was like for white America in 1957. Dwight Eisenhower was President and had just taken office for his second term. American cars dominated the scene, with Chevrolet and Ford leading the way. The Chevy Bel Air was particularly popular. The wealthy drove a Cadillac or a Lincoln Continental. Television saw shows like, “I Love Lucy, the Ed Sullivan Show, Leave it to Beaver, Perry Mason, Roy Rogers and Gunsmoke”, were particularly popular.
“Leave it to Beaver,” was the typical American family with the white picket fence and Mom stayed home to take care of the kids. Tea Party types like the year because women knew their place and black Americans were still second class citizens. How people of color lived was not a big national issue at that time.
With only the father working in most cases, the average family income for 44 million families, was $5000. It is hard to believe that a car and a house cost about the same amount of money, the average being around $2330 dollars. That represents about half of an average annual income in that year, 1957, and a lot of people even payed cash for the purchase of their car.
My goodness, how things have changed, why wouldn’t most people, especially white people want to go back to a time when things were so affordable. Today, a home is 4 times the price of what an average family income was back in the good old days. Today you need both parents working to afford a house.
The Greatest Generation governed well, and passed measures that made our government become larger, but at the same time helped provide for a safety net to prevent great damage from the next depression or great recession.
NEWS FLASH, NEWS FLASH to white America and to particularly the Tea Party and members of the Liberty caucus in Congress, we can’t go back. We have to deal with what we have today. There is no point in playing the blame game, but if you have to, government has not been the problem. The problem is that the Baby Boomers became incompetent in managing money. Most importantly for some Americans we became selfish and greedy as a nation. Your social status became more important than real family values. It became all about how many things you owned. How many cars, and how big your house is, became symbols of status. We allowed ourselves to spend more money on defense than on maintaining our edge in education and on maintaining our, what was once, our superior infrastructure. If you insist on blaming government blame yourselves for electing bad people, who cared more about benefiting themselves than helping keep America strong. We have allowed the most wealthy among us to hoodwink a great deal of us into voting against our own interests.
Tea Party fans want to blame people of color for having a more difficult life. White people were the face of the Great Depression. Black people in the 1960’s became the face of Welfare. Take ownership of the fact that a whole lot of white people are still on assistance. States like West Virginia are still impoverished and those that are among the poorest are not black but white people. Stop blaming your financial problems on food stamps and government spending and realize that the real problem is within each of us. We have lost our way in terms of what matters most in terms of our morality. The Baby Boomer generation became the most drugged out, the greatest spenders of money on nothing of value, the least willing to spend money on anything that needs fixing generation in the history of the United States. About the only thing that America is first in is that we have the most Billionaires. And now we allow the billionaires to buy elections.
America, we need to move forward and not backwards. 1957 might have been a very nice year in our history, but those days are long since gone. Nostalgia belongs in the past. The future can still be influenced greatly by America but it is time to grow up and move on. It is way past time for Americans, especially Southerners to accept the fact that America is a multi-racial and a multi-cultural society. We will only be great again when we finally accept who we are as a nation. Let us stop living in the past and do what we need to do to move forward into a better day where we are but one nation, working to make a more perfect union.