Toxic Nostalgia In Politics
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Politics and Activism

Toxic Nostalgia In Politics

Going backward is impossible.

Toxic Nostalgia In Politics
Hazmat Tool

Nostalgia is an odd thing, it's one of those feelings that sits heavily in that small space in your sternum. I also feel guilt in this area of my body and have always wondered if that two are connected, but I have always been more existential than my peers. Nostalgia can often be harmless in one's personal life, though excessive nostalgia can be harmful especially in terms of personal growth, the one place it can be extremely dangerous is politics.

Political nostalgia basically exhibits as people wanting to go backward. Back to the past and to an era that is remembered as being perfect, an era that never actually existed. The best example I can give is that of the 80's. I have begun to think that the 80's described to me by people is a weird collective delusion or a John Hughes movie. People talk about the 80's like it was heaven on Earth, that everything was scrunchies, Heuy Lewis songs, and big hair. People seem to forget the 80's also brought us the ill-advised War on Drugs the AIDS crises, and the Chernobyl disaster.

There are many problems with political nostalgia; the first being it wants to recreate a heavily fictionalized version of the past, such as the aforementioned 80's, while ignoring many of the issues of that era. Many of these issues have been solved already, but by saying we want to go back to that time we are essentially saying, "oh, helping create treatments for AIDS isn't THAT important." There is no way to recreate a period of time that never actually existed. Political nostalgia is the politics of ineffectiveness and lack of forward momentum. You can never go back and trying to is just a waste of time and energy.

Political nostalgia also usually hides issue of race and racism behind saccharine words, especially in America. People like to talk about how awesome the 50's were even though it was a time of segregation and discrimination against many groups in America, mainly African Americans. The 50's in America were not "better" for everyone and by claiming that you are ignoring much of the positive social and political change brought about starting in the 60's, which was not a perfect time either.

Worst of all political nostalgia is pandering and lazy. The politician who uses political nostalgia to try and get your vote is not actually saying anything of value. They are not talking about how they will better the nation or how they will work with others. They are playing upon American fears and feelings of abandonment to make you vote for him or her. I would bet you that this type of politician does not care about you or their campaign slogans. They want to get elected and this is the easiest way to do it since it appeals to our hearts and not our heads. Most of the time these politicians don't even explain what they value about the past or how they will "restore this values."

Going backward is impossible and foolish and politics who use nostalgia for their own gain are not to be trusted.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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