Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lost in the Fifties

Ronnie Milsap once recorded a song about being "Lost in the Fifties". Twenty-first century Republicans appear to have taken that slogan and made it their own. It made for a great song but not such a great philosophy for a modern political party.

Minnesota Republicans are planning to put an anti-gay marriage initiative on the ballot. Tennessee is about to give teachers the privilege of  "disputing" scientific theories (i.e., evolution, climate change) they believe are wrong. Republican-led states too numerous to mention are attempting to limit family planning and wall off the right to an abortion with so many restrictions as to make one impossible to obtain. State after Republican state have initiated voter i.d. laws that serve the same purpose as the infamous poll tax once did, namely, discouraging minority votes, along with those of students, the elderly and the poor. Republican-dominated states are rolling back the rights workers fought for by denying collective bargaining or as my own state of Indiana did, becoming a right-to-work state.

Even as Augusta is being pressured (once again) to let go of the past and allow women membership in their prestigious institution, you Republican men must be thinking - "my God, is nothing sacred?"

You can almost hear the yearning in Republican voices for the America of Leave it to Beaver and Happy Days and, most especially, Father Knows Best, because, as far as they're concerned Father did, and still does, know best.

Ah, for the good old days when wives in aprons met you at the door to welcome you home after a hard day's work. Even if those wives disagreed with you, they told you so gently and sweetly, behind closed doors, so that they never undermined your authority in front of the children or anyone else. And she never worked outside the home. What money she had in her pocketbook was dictated by your generosity (or lack thereof).

If she did get a job, it was a little hobby job, just for pin money, because, of course, employers would never fast-track her for promotion because she'd probably just get pregnant and leave, don't you know, contraception being the iffy thing it was back then. And that's just the way you liked it, wasn't it, Republicans? When the ever-present threat of pregnancy kept the little woman from becoming too damned independent?

And back then, it was just you white males in the boardrooms and in the executive suites and on the golf courses. I expect it was a lot more comfortable running things with only your own kind to have to deal with seeing as how you all thought alike on issues women and African-Americans could never understand.

You were the police officers (policemen)  and the fire fighters (firemen) and the soldiers, the lawyers and the doctors. Even when women were librarians and postal workers and teachers, the Head Librarian and Postmaster and the Principal were invariably male.  You thought that was the natural order of things, didn't you? You at the top, us at the bottom.

And really, I can see how you would miss that era when you were the kingpins of society - when women knew their places (in the kitchen) and gays did too (in the closet) and so did Blacks (in the back of the bus). I suppose it must be hard to give up so much power once you've had it.

But, I'm not sure you can build a political majority around whiny bitterness. Because, actually, most blue-collar men were happy when their wives could ease their financial burden by bringing home a dependable paycheck once the pill came along to take the element of uncertainty out of every sexual act. And most fathers were happy when their daughters could aspire to the Principal's office or the partnership position.  And most boys were probably delighted when girls could meet them head-on in the bedroom to engage in stress-free sex. I'm not sure, Republicans, that your sons bought into your argument that the girls who'd have sex with them were, by definition, sluts.

You are so far behind the curve on these issues and you're only getting farther behind. Yeah, you have your hard-core group of true believers but that group is getting smaller. They are mostly people who are fearful of change, like you.

But the majority of us think gay marriage is fine and women in combat is fine and sex without the risk of pregnancy is very fine. We're good with our doctors and lawyers (and even our senators) being women or African-American or gay. We're good with our next door neighbors being interracial or homosexual or Muslim as long as they are good neighbors.

Do we take a chance by opening ourselves to the world of diversity instead of barricading ourselves in the equivalent of political gated communities of only people like us (those brown people next door could be terrorists!) Well, yes, I suppose we do a little but there's always risk in anything we do. Equally as often, the betrayals come from those you trusted most - pedophile priests and respected university coaches and violent husbands and the boy next door who turns out to be a rapist. Familiarity is only the illusion of safety.

The Fifties might have been good for you but it wasn't that great for many of us....and there's no way we're going to let you take us back there.