It seems that all we ever want to do as Americans is go back to the past, where we believe things were simpler, or better. Sure, there were plenty of things that were great about our past, but why do we feel like it was necessarily better than the present that we have now?
People like Trump and all of his supporters love to say, “Make America Great Again.” But why not just say “make a better America” or something along those lines? Why do we feel the need to go back in time instead of push for positive and progressive change?
Sure, we were more social back then before cell phones, and we claimed we liked family values more in the past before sex and violence began to flood our media, but in all honesty, it’s probably just this romanticized idea of what life was like in the 1950s that we love more than the actual era itself. The past had just as many problems as we have now, and overtime we pushed to fix those problems, yet now when we face new social challenges, we don’t seem to think how can we fix these, we seem to just want to go back in time to this romanticized idea of the perfect era that was the 1950’s.
We act like our past was just another episode of the classic sitcoms that America loved back then. We believe that everyone was a bunch of wholesome family people who always had Dad there to make sure that Johnny or Sally got a date to the school dance, where they made sure to leave room for the Holy Spirit. A time when things like drugs or criminals weren’t even a problem.
We love to think of this as the past, and while this is all good, it’s not real. The 1950s weren’t all apple pie in the sky, they were also an era where women had fewer rights, and African Americans had almost none. If you think racial profiling is bad now, imagine a time when you were arrested for being African American and sitting in the front of the bus. If you think sexual harassment and the glass ceiling were bad now, imagine a time where women could only hope to get a job as a secretary or a nurse and sexual harassment wasn’t even a phrase yet.
Now, I’m not saying that we are perfect now, but we have to admit we have gone far as far as equality goes, and we still have work to do. And sure, we all would love to live in a world where people were a little more modest and families were closer, but we can’t keep pretending that the 1950’s we fantasize about as we listen to our Frank Sinatra records and tell stories about the Great Eisenhower, was reality. We had problems then and we have problems now. We have climate change and still a struggle with inequality, and I don’t think that those will be solved by going back to driving heavier steel cars that get eight miles to the gallon and bringing back segregation.