08 June 2004

The Gipper

Certain events (e.g. the death of a former U.S. President) tend suddenly to pop up in bløgs all over the place. Everyone wants to weigh in — be it on politics, thoughts on Alzheimer's, the media coverage, whatever. Bløgs are like editorial pages that way: diverting in uniform from the writer's usual hobby-horse to say a few words on some recent topic of great import. My reaction to Reagan's death is muted. I was too young to have strongly felt political feelings when he was in office. My first real political memories were around the time the Berlin wall fell, and I don't have a sense for what it was like living in Cold War America.

What I don't like is how this has provided an opportunity for people all over to make ill-informed and overly-generalized statements about the years from 1980-1988. People like to talk about either how wonderful or how horrible Reagan's years in office were. Like everything else, the truth lies in the middle somewhere, but that's not even the point. For one thing, when a statesman dies it is appropriate that we should pause from our daily lives and remember all the best things about him as a President and as a man. It is wholly appropriate that we should treat him with a certain reverence and dignity in these days after his death. You don't have to love him or agree with how he governed, but I believe that the time to express your dissent is not while his coffin lies in the Capitol rotunda.

And even if people want to talk about the victories or failings of his political career, do it with some logic and factual basis. Some bløg entries and comments I saw were so wildly inaccurate and partisan that it made me ill. And that brings me back to what I hate about American politics in general: the extreme polarity of the system. Nobody admits his ideological opponent might possibly have some insight to offer; instead of forming affiliations based on our beliefs we let our beliefs be dictated by The Party. Instead of trying to truly serve this country, our supposedly honest, trusted leaders tell us bald-faced lies to get re-elected.

Enough of that. Let's observe a moment of silence for the Gipper.

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