My weekly columns are purposely not about politics. I prefer to leave those discussions to others.
This article is not about endorsing either of the two presidential candidates. It is about the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The catchphrase is not new. On the contrary, it is old. In fact, it was used by Presidents Reagan and Clinton in prior elections, and now, of course, is being used by Donald Trump in the current election.
My outlook on voting is relatively simple. I believe people should vote for who they want to vote for in this coming election. The people of Clinton County and this country are intelligent. They will sort it all out for themselves. They will find their own way.
Often when I talk to former classmates and other people my age, we discuss how lucky we were to have grown-up in America during what was perhaps some of the best times our country has ever known.
My formative years just like any time in America, were not free from problems. The United States during the 1950s and early 1960s, however, was a very special place to live.
Fifty to sixty years ago, it was easier than it is today, to believe in some basic truths, and to aspire to a code of conduct that essentially governed everyone’s behavior. Churches called them the Ten Commandments. Schools had stricter rules. Back then, parents and teachers were permitted to discipline students, which created quieter, safer environments for growing and learning.
Federal and state laws supported family cohesion. Parents generally had a greater belief in discipline. We understood what was expected of people in their personal lives.
The lines between right and wrong, between acceptable conduct and bad behavior, were brighter and clearer and more easily accepted in 1962 than they are in 2016.
People were expected to be responsible for their actions, and they were told that behaving in certain ways had consequences.
Some say the seeds of decline were sewn during, or at least as a result of, the decade of the 1960s, when powerful change had occurred in American society. Some of that change was good. It was then that Martin Luther King faced down the forces of racism and hatred. There were other issues in the 1960s that tore the nation apart and did not have the promise of healing. The war in Vietnam was raging, the drug revolution exploded, and there were other divides, ethnic, economic and cultural, that opened and has never closed to this day.
Those issues, and the reaction of the government and of our society in response to them, have set us on the road we travel today.
Our social fabric did not disappear in the 1960s, but it began to unravel, and the erosion has unfortunately continued.
On the issue of integrity, I believe part of the change is a difference in the public perception of the establishment. I am not naive enough to believe none of that happened before the 1960s, but it was not the epidemic it is today.
In addition, fifty years ago we seemed better able to deal with our own personal issues without the intrusion of government, courts, and counselors telling us how to manage our problems or, worse, to managing them for us.
If adhering to a strict code of honesty, caring, accountability, integrity, and responsibility is what is meant by “Make America Great Again”, I am all for it.
May God bless America … again.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.