Lately, finding myself drawn to poltical essays from the 90s-early 2000s. Loved reading AQ’s perspective on the Clinton years and was fascinated by Joan Didion’s election coverage from 80s and 90s in Political Fictions. Recently, while reading The Most of Nora Ephron, I found odd comfort in her essays from the Bush (II) years. There’s something reassuring about living in the present and reading the wise concerns these women shared 10-30 years ago, knowing that ultimately, things ended up kind of sort of ok. Hideous problems and challenges continue, but we go on.
This whole 2016 election circus is scary and fascinating-for both Democrats and Republicans. Talking to friends from both parties inevitably leads to a comment like, “seriously though, if (— from my political party —) wins the primary instead of (—) it will be disaster.” There’s a LOT of disasters looming in this election. Some hyperbolic, though, after Justice Scalia’s death and Donald Trump’s terrifying anger during Saturday’s debate, this is an unquestionably significant election.
I keep thinking about these essays from the past, and the very valid concerns raised by the authors, and yet somehow despite past disasters, we go on. It makes me think of the central message in Karl Pillmer’s book-the importance of the long view; thinking of individual events in terms of their place in a larger context.
Taking this long view, it was fascinating to read Nora Ephron’s 2008 New Year’s Resolutions. Her list is an important snapshot into that not so long ago time. Recommend reading it, but to summarize, here’s her list (with my updates in bold):
1) End the war in Iraq-significantly drawn down. Thanks, Obama.
2) Make sure a Democrat is elected president.-done! Thanks, Obama.
3) Convince George W. Bush of the threat of global warming.-not done, Obama has made poltical progress on climate change.
4) Close the prison at Guantanamo.-grrr. Not done.
5) Get William Kristol fired from the NYT-no longer writes for NYT
6) Kill Osama bin Laden.-done! Thanks, Obama.
7) Decide whether she would rather impeach Dick Cheney or Clarence Thomas.-ehhh….
8) Start a universal health care program.-not totally universal (grrr SCOTUS and 20+ Republican governors), but sort of done! Thanks, Obama.
9) Get the United States government to fund an endowment to lend money, interest-free, to anyone who wants to go to college, and to re-finance (also interest-free) the college loans of all the adults who are walking around saddled by interest payments on their tuition debt.-URGENT and NEEDED in 2016.
10) Cook a timballo-had to Google a timballo.
Wish that Nora Ephron was still alive today to see the progress, but thankfully, she got to see a lot of it happen.
Still SO much progress needed on many fronts, but looking at this list, it is astounding how life has improved over the last 8 years, thanks to this president. As I get overwhelmed and frustrated by ALL the primary candidates, it is tempting to think…does it really matter that much?
And on the one hand, taking the long view, this is an amazing country, and I have faith in its resilience. However, considering how the country tumbled in the 2000s and then reemerged with strength under President Obama, I realize it SO matters. It matters very much.
We’ve really come too far to let any candidate take us back.