Mark Twain famous was of the opinion that history does not repeat itself but often rhymes. I’m experimenting with a lot of rhyming in the world right now; you too?
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I lived in Cabo San Lucas, MX, I wrote bi-weekly columns for English-language newspapers (using the pen name Baja Boomer). The following column, recently rescued from storage in an old cardboard box and in desperate need of resuscitation, was at the top of my list to transcribe into a PDF file for posterity. It didn’t take me long to recognize all the “rhymes” going on between that 1992 column and today’s political scene. I hope you might find it interesting, if not useful.
I apologize in advance for its length (1,206 words!) and possible clumsiness; I publish it here in its entirety, warts and all and it is, after all, 30 years…
(PS: It will be useful to remember that in 1992 the President of the United States was George HW Bush and the Vice President was Dan Quayle…) Without further ado:
The politics of morality
“The conventional is not the moral. Complacency is not a religion.
Attacking first is not attacking last. -Charlotte Bronte, 1847
A A year ago, I thought this fall’s election in the North 50 would be the most boring of the century. The Gulf War was over, the populace at large was going into a frenzy of complacency, parades and yellow ribbons were the order of the day, and the Prez and his Veep were riding high.
“Why even bother to have an election?” I grumbled. “We might as well call for a show of hands and get on with our business.”
I was wrong, as usual.
First, Georges-le-Prez ended up admitting that there had been a recession by announcing that it was now over. This was not the case.
Then we had the disgraceful and embarrassing debacle of the Justice Thomas/Anita Hill hearings where George was forced to look bad by maintaining support for his badly tainted Supreme Court nominee; there was no way the hero of Desert Storm could back down on a little thing like that. It drove women REALLY crazy, and African Americans weren’t impressed just because Clarence was black. Anita too.
As the recession dragged on with soaring unemployment and a substantial increase in homelessness, the Prez tried to pin the blame on Congress for thwarting its agendas while simultaneously declaring that it was IN CHARGE, after all, and not one of his vetoes had been overturned! Well, George, you can’t have it both ways. “A pox on your two houses! people cried. The natives were agitated.
Enter Pat Buchanan, jumping into the race from somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun.
“Here,” I said. “What is this?” Things were starting to look more interesting; I started smiling again and friends noticed I was humming in my beard.
So Roe vs. Wade blown full force into the picture. People who had comfortably voted Republican knowing that their “right to choose” was protected by the Supreme Court, no matter who was president, began to realize that this may no longer be the case. They started staring at George and Dan-boy with slanted eyes, and Buchanan made them hyperventilate.
Bill Clinton? Governor “Moonbeam” Brown? The nation groans. What to do? Where to turn?
Strains from the William Tell Overture, a cloud of dust and a copious “Hi Yo Silver…”
Who is this masked man? Where did he come from? Nobody really knew it, but a millionaire businessman named Ross Perot galloped out west saying all the “right” things without really saying anything at all – and suddenly it became the race of anybody. Until the (slight?) possibility that no one wins a majority and that the next president of the United States is chosen by Congress.
Damn hot! As my old Swedish grandmother used to say, “Ya shooor, we’re having fun now, you bet!”
Clearly in trouble now, self-proclaimed environmentalist/educational President Bush has decided to fight back by becoming the Morality/Traditional Values President too. He sent the Veep, Dan Quayle, to carry the message to the people.
Sorry? Isn’t this the same man who loudly proclaimed the righteousness and morality of the Vietnam War while carefully hiding in the National Guard?
Dan Quayle strikes me as the type of guy who will pick up a bar fight and then hold your coat for you while you fight. On the way to the hospital, he’ll comfort you by saying, “Guess we showed them a thing or two, by cracky!”
I’m sorry but every time I start to think maybe he’s not that bad he does something stupid. In this case, it started with gossip about an episode of the “Murphy Brown” TV show about a single woman who got pregnant and decided to keep her baby and raise her on her own. Seemingly outraged by the immorality of it all, he said with his best deer gaze in the headlights, “Hollywood just doesn’t get it.”
Well, Hollywood’s bottom line is dollars. If Murphy Brown wasn’t a successful and beloved show, it would soon be on hiatus. Obviously, then, people watch the show and obviously there has to be something about the character that they love. Could it be our government that just doesn’t get it?
When Vladimir Lenin’s revolutionary party was still a small breakaway group in Russia, he named it the Bolshevik Party., Bolshevik meaning” Majority”. The Tsar’s government, with incredible stupidity, accepted the appellation of “menshevik“, which means “Minority”. In about 15 years, that was true.
It seems to me that something like this is currently happening in the United States. A vocal minority group calling itself the “Moral Majority” wants us all to conform to its concepts of morality and values, and people are beginning to believe they are right despite poll after poll showing that a large majority of the population does not agree with them at all.
So when we talk about “Traditional Morality and Values”, what definition are we talking about? And do any of us have the right to impose our notion of right and wrong on someone else?
It’s probably a good thing that I don’t live in the North 50 anymore; I would be in stock all the time for things like laughing on Sundays and keeping you odd hours.
I suppose most reasonable people among us would agree that in an ideal world, it would be a good thing for a child to live in a stable and loving two-parent home. I think we can reach general agreement on other issues as well. Murder is bad. Child abuse is wrong. The same goes for racism, bigotry, rape, poverty and the abuse of our elderly.
Here are some things that I personally find immoral but could argue about:
Deregulation work which opened the door to the S&L scandal, while the government simultaneously regulated what we can and cannot do in the privacy of our own bedrooms.
The United States is screaming other nations to stop cutting down their forests when only about 10% of its own original forest remains, and they are about to cut them down as well.
That there are about 10,000 oil spills annually in the United States And nothing but a slap in the face is ever done about it because it’s bad for business.
That over the past decade more people became millionaires than ever before – at the same time as the percentage of the population living below the poverty line increased every year and homelessness became a scourge.
And, finally, anyone, anywhere, anytime, NEVER tell me (or tell you) what I (we) should be thinking.
A while back I saw a bumper sticker that has stuck in my mind ever since. You might like it too. He simply said:
Moral majority is neither
Dare I say I agree?
Originally published in
Los Cabos magazine
June 25, 1992
-by the Baja Boomer
alias: Andrea Hackman