Politics, Presidents, and History: Why Can't They Get Along?
It often surprises me when Politicians are able to make vague historical references, say they won't make the same mistakes, and the people just eat it up like candy.Â I'm also surprised with the failure of the Media to provide adequate background information for candidates that run for office.Â Is it that they just don't want to look at the past, or perhaps they feel the American people don't have the attention span for a history lesson?What prompted this statement, you might ask?Â Last night I was watching the American Experience on PBS in an attempt to get my son to sleep.Â He's not feeling well in the heat wave that hit Salt Lake this week, and was restless.Â This night, it was a special on George H.W. Bush.Â It covered his rise to politics from his father's involvement in the Eisenhower Administration to his eventual election to President.Now, I wasn't a big fan of George Bush Sr. while he was in office.Â Granted, I was just a kid in Jr. High at the time, but with some politically minded friends, I was kept in the loop.Â He provided little in the way of what I expected, because I loved Reagan.Â Why did I love Reagan?Â Because he made Americans feel good about being Americans.Â George didn't do that.Â He wasn't the showman that Reagan was, nor was he the actor.But he was a Statesman, and if I had known what a Statesman did at the time, I would have applauded his efforts.Â George H.W. Bush was first and foremost an Ambassador.Â From his few years of working at the UN, he managed to build a huge relationship with all nations and use it to his advantage while both Vice President under Reagan, and while working with the Soviet Union during the fall of the Berlin Wall.He was willing to let the Germans be Germans, instead of puppets of the US, and thereby fueling the anti-American block in the Kremlin that would have taken any excuse to tighten their hold on the Eastern Block.Â He made Eisenhower-esque moves and decisions that allowed other people and nations to shine, all the while keeping the US economy strong.But even further back, George H.W. Bush built the current idea of Republican Conservatism that pervades in politics today.Â He did so in the 60's by welcoming those Democrats into the Republican party that were a little angered by President Kennedy and Johnson.Â And this was in Texas, where at the time you couldn't find a Republican.His foray into politics in the 60's represents a clean shift in the ideals of the Republican party, and forced the Democrats to shift to their current position.Â It's interesting that now, 50 years later, his son instigated a shift in the Democratic party in the same way Kennedy and Johnson forced the Republicans to shift.Â Now the Republicans are shifting again, back to the Eisenhower days.So why am I writing about President George H.W. Bush?Â Because it's information I would have liked 15 years ago!Â And I keep asking myself, where is the analysis on the current candidates?Â Quick snapshots don't help, nor do sound-bytes.Â In order to make a truly informed decision on a candidate, you have to know where they come from, where they have gone, and what they have been willing to do to get there.Â That is a full measure of a candidate, because now you can predict with relative certainty what they will do in office.Now, the American Experience is gearing up for the Election, preparing for it by providing profiles of the past Presidents.Â I'm sure, once the Democratic candidate has been chosen, we will see well documented profiles of that person as well as John McCain.Â But until then, I would urge anyone to watch the American Experience series on the Presidents.Â Learn about what past presidents have done, both right and wrong.Â For now, President George H.W. Bush has risen to one of my favorite presidents, right up there with President Ford, President Eisenhower, and President James K. Polk.