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Don’t Fall Like Rolling Stone and the Rest of the Left, Don’t Let a President Ruin a Decade

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Posted on December 27 2009 5:30 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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Stumbling into the past, tripping into depressing mindsets...

When reading a book or an article you’re supposed to lose yourself in the text itself. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to trip over a comma or a period and stumble the past. You’re no longer thinking of what the author intended, but of a time long since passed.

As I read the opening paragraph of Rob Sheffield’s “A Decade of Lost Chances,” the introduction to Rolling Stone‘s decade-in-review compilation of best songs, albums, artists, and films I was transported five years back in time. Sheffield describes the view of the last 10 years from the perspective of an anti-Bush leftist:

It was a decade in which we saw our leaders squander the peace and prosperity of the previous decade. We watched as they sold us into an endless war, stomped civil liberties and trashed the economy, all while the icebergs kept melting and the seas kept rising. It was a decade of lost chances, which we can only hope are not last chances. The ’00s really began on December 12th, 2000, the day the Supreme Court blocked Florida from recounting ballots and anointed George W. Bush. Other bad days were to follow — most famously 9/11. But we never recovered from 12/12, spent the rest of the decade trying to forget it and mostly succeeded. Before you knew it, we were at the airport, waiting in line to take off our shoes. Why? Who knew? We just were. * Yet music offered shelter from the storm, even if it was just for one three-minute song at a time.

(BTW, you can’t find the essay online, you’ll have to buy a copy of Rolling Stone for it.)

To Sheffield and his audience this is their reality: George W. Bush defined the decade. The worst day of the past 10 years was not 9/11 — when Islamic totalitarians murdered thousands of people — it was the day Bush and the Right “stole” the presidency. The second worst day of the decade had to be November 2, 2004 — when Bush won reelection. I remember it as though it was yesterday….

****

I was a a junior political science and English double major and leftist op/ed columnist at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. The day was to be a glorious one. I’d spent the previous weeks analyzing polls and had calculated that a John Kerry victory was all but a certainty.

The party started at my apartment with several friends as we began to watch the returns as they came in that evening. My roommate Josh and his then-fiancee Joanna were there — both had voted but neither were particularly worried with who won.

Eventually several of us transitioned over to another friend’s apartment where there was a larger party. We turned on the Daily Show’s Indecision 2004 coverage.

And things did not go as planned. Kerry began to lose states — like Florida — that I and others had predicted he would not. Eventually it came down to Ohio — and the numbers were not looking in our favor at all.

And as the probability of another 4 years of a “warmongering” President rose higher I responded in a sensible college fashion: acquainting myself with a bottle of coconut rum. I don’t recall how many shots I took over the next few hours but I still managed to hobble home to my apartment in the neighboring complex and crawl into bed.

The next morning I skipped my classes — something unusual for me. And I strode out into the living room with my blanket wrapped around me — intentionally trying to evoke the image of a solemn monk.

“Are you OK, Dave?” Joanna asked. And assuming a vow of silence like the monk I pretended to be, I just shook my head and stared out of our third floor balcony window into a gray, cloudy sky which seemed to perfectly reflect my inner being.

*****

I tell this story and reflect on Sheffield’s article for one reason: so that others can consider this mentality in themselves and perhaps avoid this trap.

Look at the power that Bush and the Right held over me — and still holds over Sheffield and Rolling Stone readers. Leftists granted Bush a privileged status over their emotions, over their happiness. No matter how good the music — much less the other joys — of the era might be, the simple fact of an “evil” president always hung over their shoulders.

And every day I see conservatives who do the same thing with Barack Obama, the Democrats in congress, and sometimes even their leftist advocates on television. I get discouraging emails from my new political comrades lamenting how Obama is destroying America. I get requests that I remove the pictures of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow from the sidebar of the blog because people cannot even bear to look at them. I watch as the political sausage-making of Obamacare creates depressed, frustrated thoughts which fill my Tweetdeck feed. Bad bills pass in the Senate or the House and conservatives let it get to them.

I suppose in one sense this is natural and good. It’s fantastic that Americans are passionately engaged in the political process. It’s certainly not a bad thing to care about politics. It’s reasonable to wince as questionable legislation passes.

What we should avoid, though, is letting bad policies, opposing political movements, and misguided presidents steal our joy. We must have faith in the strength of our Constitution and our Republic. Just take a leap back further into the past and it becomes clear that America has gone through far darker chapters than it faces right now. And it has survived. Thus, there is no cause for a crippling fear or sadness. Freedom shall prevail again.

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