Our weekly Guest Dispatch hails from the West Coast. John Flores’s first post on DC Dispatches was late last year. It was a good read. You learn more about him, here. John’s first dispatch for the new year, How We Got Here: According to Me, is a personal tale about his family’s experience growing up in a post-World War II, New Deal America. A part of America that we have been trying to get away from ever since.
The Obama Administration and its supporters in Congress are seeking to make political trouble this year. And, I’m certain, they will not disappoint. Nor will the other side. The Left’s mission, as it has been since the 1940s, is to divide Americans. They will use every means to do so. Healthcare. Taxes. Education. And, because of recent events, a massive regulatory dragnet will be launched to further erode and, ultimately destroy, the Second Amendment.
None of these things or tactics are new. These people are in it for the long haul. It has been, and will continue to be, a multi-generational fight. The radical Left wing of the Democratic Party has been at this since FDR’s New Deal.
John’s post is timely. He reminds us that while he was growing up in California, he and his generation were witnessing, but did really know it then, “the destruction of a values-based society from within itself,” a process that continues to this day.
Our instant message world does not really focus on the past anymore. But you need to look back if you want to understand why folks like John, and millions more, are as passionate as they are about what this city is going to America. The good news is that there are many more conservatives in this Nation – fiscal and social – than there are of them. And to succeed, I’m convinced we must start locally, stop looking to Washington, DC or for messianic leaders.
Read John’s thoughtful blog that follows. Tell us what you think. And get involved.
How We Got Here. According to Me.
John Flores, Oregon
In 1994 the United States was abuzz with the news that 40 years of a Democrat-controlled Congress had come to an end. Newt Gingrich and his cadre of fresh faced Republican Congressmen and women were going to turn our country around for the better – despite the fact that Democrat William Jefferson Clinton was shaping up to be one of the most popular presidents ever.
I think back to that one fact – 40 years of a Democrat-controlled Congress – and what that has meant for our country.
I was born at the beginning of those 40 years, in 1954. I’ve been in an ideal situation to view that period of representation and the impact it has had. Our economy is in a mess right now and our society is fragmented and, often, ugly.
As a young Mexican-American born and raised in East Los Angeles, I grew up watching Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It To Beaver, My Three Sons and Father Knows Best. These shows were reflections of 1950s and 60s America, with the father being the breadwinner and mom at home taking care of the house and kids. Who knew those shows would be the epitaph of that society?
Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” was having its initial impact on our economy, having settled in and now yielding its fruits. Unionization of many industries and businesses was ostensibly leading to a better life for the American worker with higher wages and a say in what benefits they would receive. To “stimulate” our economy and agriculture, the federal government was paying farmers to not grow and produce agricultural products.
After the New Deal failed to bring us out of the depression as promised, the second new deal was enacted.
The Works Progress Administration, the Wagner Act and new government bureaucracies were creating a bigger government with new, big programs. New, big programs with new, big taxes to pay for them.
As Americans were adjusting their personal economies to pay for the costs associated with the New Deals and their impact on the nation’s economy, along came President Lyndon Johnson and his “Great Society.”
As a young boy starting to attend elementary school in the early 1960s, I witnessed first hand the impact of higher taxes and a higher cost of living on my family. Suddenly, my mother was taking in laundry and babysitting for extra money so that our family could make ends meet. Eventually she took a job at a seasonal foods company in Los Angeles. It seemed my dad’s pay wasn’t enough for us to cover our bills.
On top of working to help our household budget, my mom ironed robes and church linens to get a cut in our tuition. Us kids also saw a greater frequency of beans and rice for dinner, as these were cheaper meals. Mom used to call it “comida de pobres” (poor people’s food). We also began to receive phone calls in our home from the finance companies my parents had borrowed from to help keep our home afloat. Family finances were not good.
Our family was not unique. Mothers were leaving households in droves to help their household budgets. Husbands were taking second jobs. And, as a result, kids were being left home alone. This was the “new normal.”
As this continued in the 60s, along came the “peace movement” and “women’s liberation.” Even more “movements” aimed at challenging both governmental authority and the values of the “traditional family” – “Chicano power,” “Black power,” “Students for a Democratic Society” and so many more. The younger generation had more time on its hands and no parent was at home to instill family values and a sense of respect for elders and authority.
What was I witnessing?
What I was witnessing was the destruction of a values-based society from within itself. Our government was growing and the family unit was shrinking. Kids were running rampant because mom and dad were at work. Who would tell them to stop what they were doing and punish them for doing wrong? Gangs began forming to a degree never before seen. Crips, Bloods, 18th Street, Mexican Mafia, Wah Chings and many more battled for the streets, and control of kids with nothing better to do to swell their ranks.
Fast forward to the 1990s. And now, so many years later, it remains the “new normal.”
When was the last time you heard of a couple getting married and thinking that one parent or the other would be a “stay at home” mom or dad? It almost never happens! No one even conceives of this type of marriage – except, perhaps, for a Kardashian family member.
Vice President Al Gore proposed “midnight basketball” programs as a way of providing a place for kids to go rather than roaming the streets to get into trouble. Rather than shrinking the size of government and lowering taxes so that mom or dad can quit their second job and stay at home with their children, government grants would create local hangouts for kids to attend.
As the government needed to feed its self-perpetuating, bureaucratic tapeworm, it needed money…and taxes continued to rise. Regulation of business increased the weight of its almighty foot on the throats of businesses. Feeling that weight, businesses began to shed employees. Those employees plummeted into poverty and onto food stamps and welfare.
Today we have the homes born of this ever-growing government behemoth. We have the children of the children that never learned respect for their elders or authority. We see the results as these children taking their violence from the streets to the video arcade and back to the streets, because their favorite action star did it on the big screen and they were so cool…without ever telling them it was wrong to take a life.
Sadly, Newt Gingrich and his band of brothers (and sisters) could not undo in their short tenure what had been done over the course of 40 years. As with all things political, something got in the way – politics. And, so, society continues to spiral.
When those who seek to lead our government embrace righteousness over rhetoric, we may see a reversal of this muck and mire. Until then I pray, God help us.