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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/25/11

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Some things haven't changed at all

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Message Doc McCoy
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Boy, the way Glen Miller played. Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us, we had it made. Those were the days.
Didn't need no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great. Those were the days.
And you knew who you were then, girls were girls and men were men.
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.
People seemed to be content. Fifty dollars paid the rent.
Freaks were in a circus tent. Those were the days.
Take a little Sunday spin, go to watch the Dodgers win.
Have yourself a dandy day that cost you under a fin.
Hair was short and skirts were long. Kate Smith really sold a song.
I don't know just what went wrong.~~Those Were The Days
by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse

Back in 1971, a mere 40 years ago, America was introduced to a young man -- a college student -- who would become the country's best known liberal and progressive. He protested the war in Vietnam. He campaigned for liberal politicians; passionately argued against social inequities and the lack of justice for all. He proudly carried the torch for all liberals; for all progressives. He was married; no job; and living with his in-laws. He was Michael Stivic; better known to the nation as "Meathead."

His father-in-law was a proud World War II Veteran who had served in the Air Corps. He could, and would, loudly when necessary, defend and interpret the Bible; wrap himself in the American Flag; become reverent when talking about "his" president; and irreverent when talking about all minorities and those who did not agree with him. He was a true conservative. He was America's most loved bigot, Archie Bunker.

All in the Family was a sitcom that ran for eight years -- 1971 through 1979 -- garnering high ratings for CBS. For those too young to remember, the first show carried this disclaimer:

The program you are about to see is All in the Family.
It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties,
prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of
laughter we hope to show, in a mature fashion, just how
absurd they are.

The show was controversial. It covered topics that were otherwise taboo for television viewing, such as racism, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause and impotence. If aired on major network television today, it would be controversial simply because it defies all concepts of "political correctness."

The frailties, prejudices, and concerns the show highlighted 40 years ago are still part of the dialogue in 2011. Back then, liberals -- or as Archie called them, "commies" and "pinkos" -- were protesting the war in Vietnam. Unemployment was rising. The president at the time, Richard M. Nixon, was highly unpopular with almost everyone. The rich were getting richer; the poor were getting poorer. Minorities were always coming up on the short end of the stick. Environmental issues were entering into the public discussion. Back then, there was Daniel Ellsberg; today there is Bradley Manning. Then, as today, conservatives were considered to be bigots and racists; the cause of all the social problems of the era.

For over 40 years now, progressives have been fighting for and demanding the same things that "Meathead" was fighting for and arguing with Archie for in the television show. Imagine -- 40 years and very little progress has been made. In fact, it appears that the conservatives have gotten even stronger. They have gotten richer. Welfare is still being given to corporations. The liberals and progressives still feel disenfranchised.

Back in the 70's the progressives and liberals protested. Today, they still talk about protests, but comparatively few people show up for the protests. Today, the more radical ones talk about a revolution as being the only way to get the country on the right track. We see revolutions taking place in the Middle East lately. Despite all the hype, things there seem to be all going back to the way things were before. Revolutions do not change the way that people think or behave. They just enable new people to fill old positions. Ultimately, in our own ways, we are all creatures of habit. All the protests in the 60's and 70's really didn't change anything. Today, 40 years later, they are being repeated all over again, though, once again, with fewer people participating.

Watching All in the Family today is a bit like watching history; yet it is still reality. The issues are the same. The rhetoric has changed a bit, but it is still pretty much the same; changed primarily only due to the need for political correctness. The American people are extremely sensitive these days.

Why do progressives have such a difficult time selling their visions and dreams to the American public? After 40 years plus, one would think that they would have been able to better hone their message; to get more converts to their side of the road. I regularly receive e-mails from progressive Internet sites, including this one, and each site counters its news with dramatic pleas for money to meet operating budgets.

It appears that once again things haven't changed much over the years. Many Americans, but primarily liberals and progressives, never seem to have much money. For 40 years I have heard the same excuses being made: "This economy really sucks. Things are tough." Maybe that is where the progressives are falling down and finding it so difficult to bring about changes they have so desperately wanted for the last 40-plus years. They keep waiting for someone else to pay; unable, or unwilling to pull their own weight.

There is a parallel to this plea for funding and All in the Family. In the series, "Meathead" was not working; he was pursuing his dream for a liberal arts degree. He was living off the generosity of his in-laws; and passionately complaining about all the things that were wrong with society and America. At the end of the series, he divorced his wife -- Archie's daughter Gloria -- and moved into a commune.

In the meantime, Archie worked a full-time job and, at some point in the series, started driving a taxi at night to make more money. He wanted a better future, and dreamed of being independent some day. He made sacrifices. It worked out. He ended up being independent and bought his own business -- his local neighborhood bar.

Guys like us, we had it made. Those were the days.
Didn't need no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight.

For those old enough to remember and who want to take a walk down memory lane; and those too young to remember, there are many full and partial episodes of All in the Family on YouTube.

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Doc is retired, currently living, working and investing in Orlando. Background in medicine (trauma), business and education. Neither a progressive or a conservative; more of a centrist/libertarian who is a strong proponent of personal (more...)

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