Late last night my husband and I watched an old Sonny and Cher show — a great piece of nostalgia. We got to see a very young and cherubic Steve Martin and a baby-faced Teri Garr. What started as a lark turned out to be a very interesting conversation and reflection of just how far backwards we have gone as a country.
In the early 1970’s, America was on a progressive trajectory. We witnessed the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the second wave of the Women’s Rights Movement, and Roe v. Wade. We witnessed desegregation finally being implemented in the South. We also saw a nation angry and protesting the war in Vietnam and it was safe to be anti-war / pro-peace and still be considered patriotic. All of these values are reflected in a witty and fun-loving way on the Sonny and Cher Show.
The particular episode we saw included a skit that both mocked and celebrated CBS’s All in the Family. The skit was exceedingly well crafted and addressed racism, misogyny, homophobia (Steve Martin plays the gay character), and hypocrisy. It was this particular skit that gave both my husband and me pause to reflect, “what the hell happened to this progressive trajectory our country was on at that time?”
We had no further to look than 1980 and what I will call the American Reign of Terror for 12 years: the Reagan/Bush Years. While the GOP have canonized St. Ronnie (and today he would be considered a socialist by Republican standards), Reagan set into motion the undoing of the United States. Reagan gave voice to religion in a qualitatively different way that set a course for the co-opting of religion to its current incarnation of a cult of unadulterated hate; by no means am I lumping together all religions, but certainly the loud and powerful christians.
Reagan can also take credit for expanding government and for his signature “Trickle Down Economics.” We have now had over 30 years empirical data to prove how ineffective and damaging Trickle Down Economics is, unless you are part of the top 1% of Americans. Is it any surprise that we have the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, with Republicans categorically refusing to create jobs and raise taxes on the wealthiest of Americans? Talk about obstructionist!
While watching one of my favorite skits, The Vamp, I experienced both being tickled by Cher as Nefertiti and saddened as I thought about where we are today as a nation. When I think about the Tea Party (the party of hate and blatant racism, homophobia and misogyny) and I think about the current crap (oops, I mean crop) of GOP presidential candidates, I’m horrifically shocked at the downhill slope our country has taken.
I hope the OWS movement will pave the way for thinking Americans to take back our country from being held hostage by white heterosexual christian terrorists. I hope Americans will learn from people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who refers to Rousseau’s Social Contract. I hope we, as a nation, can stop the greed and talk again about peace and civil rights for all.
And the beat goes on…