Monday, November 3, 2008
Believe in Change
That freckle faced 17 year old kid on the right side of the photo is me way back in 1964. The guy next to me is now an attorney in Denver, and the girl on the end was my first love interest. We were at the old Stapleton Airport in Denver at a rally for President Lyndon Johnson.
I was president of the Jeffco Teen Dems (Denver's western suburbs). We had a crew of about 120 teenagers that had been inspired by JFK who wanted to see his legacy continue under the new President. (That was before Johnson took us to the dark side in Viet Nam.) We were true believers in all that is good. We helped as best we could to see that LBJ won Colorado in 1964 election. He won that race by a landslide. Big time.
My view is that Johnson's landslide victory was a ratification by the American people to extend the promise of President Kennedy. The Republican candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater, was portrayed as a demon and a war monger. Looking back more than 40 years later I don't know if anybody could have beat LBJ.
Ronald Reagan pulled off a similar landslide in 1980 when he decimated sitting President Jimmy Carter. Reagan's entrance into the White House was the beginning of a shift to the right in public policy. There was to be less government than envisioned by JFK & LBJ. Twenty-eight years have passed. Our world has been shaken by the events of September 11th, our involvement in a war without end in Iraq, the pernicious partisanship on both side of the aisle in Congress that keeps the peoples business from getting done, and the near collapse many segments of our economy. Everywhere people want change. It's not even about who is to blame. It is just to change the way things are done.
After his election as President, LBJ got a lot of programs through Congress that President Kennedy had been unable to do including the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in public facilities (restaurants and hotels), in government, and in employment, and it invalidated the Jim Crow laws in the southern U.S. It became illegal to compel segregation of the races in schools, housing, or hiring. It also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Prior to its passage I remember getting into screaming matches with white adult men who were opposed to this legislation. They are all old men now, if they are still living. I wonder if they are afraid of having a black man as President. They were afraid of having a black man having civil rights back then.
I remember the collective sense of loss all Americans felt after September 11th. It was the worst day in my life, and I wasn't even there. I was in Key West. I knew things would never be the same again.
I recall that later that day Republicans and Democrats stood in front of the US Capitol as the Speaker of the House said "Senators and House members, Democrats and Republicans will stand shoulder to shoulder to fight this evil that has perpetrated on this nation. We will stand together to make sure that those who have brought forth this evil deed will pay the price." And they did. For a while.
I remember watching President Bush climb atop a pile of rubble at the site of the World Trade Center on September the 14th. He spoke with determination into the megaphone and said "I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" No matter how much many of us disliked him or his policies or how he became President, he was our President. We stood behind him. We were one.
Seven years later the list of woes is endless: the two wars, the housing market collapse, the bailout, the recession or whatever you want to call what "it" is that we are living through, the loss of American jobs, the high cost of gas and its impact on everything we consume or use, the mounting national debt and the impending social security surge, the lack of affordable health care, the decline of American education, the loss of America's prestige in the world, the illegal aliens, and so on.
The polls and pundits are predicting a landslide for both Obama and the Democrats in the House and Senate in tomorrow's election. I do not know a single person who wants our current way of living to continue. Everybody wants change. If the American public gives the new President a chance and stands behind him, like we did with President Bush after 911, maybe we will see the change we all want.
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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell
- Gary Thomas
- Key West, Florida, United States
- I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.