From BOTW and James Taranto, an appropriate tribute to RR during election week.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, marked the end of an American political era: the age of confident liberalism. Lyndon B. Johnson carried forward JFK’s legislative legacy, cutting taxes and pushing through landmark civil rights laws. But LBJ’s overambitious wars in Vietnam and on poverty were damaging to America and shattering for liberalism. The late 1960s and the 1970s saw skyrocketing crime and illegitimacy, American humiliation in Vietnam, and the tragedy of Watergate.
Finally, with the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the country hit rock bottom: malaise, gas lines, the Soviets in Afghanistan, the invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Blessedly, 25 years ago today, it came to an end with the election of Ronald Reagan and the dawn of the age of confident conservatism. The ensuing two decades saw unprecedented economic growth, victory in the Cold War, and a gradual diminution of the timidity about employing U.S. military force overseas that is known as the “Vietnam syndrome.” By the mid-1990s, a Democratic president was even undoing the worst excesses of LBJ’s Great Society.
We’re inclined to view the presidency of George W. Bush, and especially his muscular foreign policy, as a continuation of the Reagan era. There is an argument to be made on the other side: that conservatism is now in its LBJ phase, having produced swollen government at home and overextended America’s capabilities abroad. The left, meanwhile, is as weak, angry and paranoid as the right was in the heyday of the John Birch society–but perhaps one day it will reconnect with reality and resurge politically.
History will reveal itself in due course, but for today let us remember how, on Nov. 4, 1980, America began to reverse its decline by electing a man who shared the country’s faith in itself.
Any comments on the general trend of American politics?