I enjoyed revisiting Susan Faludi’s Backlash courtesy of Pandagon this morning. I totally buy her assertion that the book, published in 1991, deserves to be lumped in with the ’80s. Her post got me thinking about the ’80s, and the moment when that decade ended for me.
During the 1988 presidential election primaries, Bob Dole visited our school. We were so spoiled in New Hampshire, with every candidate visiting every last venue that would have them. I got to see every presidential candidate in both the 1988 and 1992 cycles.
Bob Dole came to an assembly at our auditorium, Memorial Hall. We were children of the Reagan years, and predisposed to welcome Republicans fairly uncritically. I believe we later in the general election cycle held a straw poll, and while the faculty voted for the D, the student body went very heavily R. It may have helped that a relative of George H. W. Bush was his stand-in for the mock debate. Or not.
ANYWAY . . .
Dole was droning on about whatever he thought kids who, by and large, couldn’t actually vote would bother to tell their highly-likely-to-vote parents, and he suddenly railed and shook his fist about the “godless Communists” in the USSR.
And we all laughed.
The Red Menace was a complete joke to us. It seemed completely preposterous that, of all of the things we should be worried about, communism would be one of them.
Looking back, that was the end of the ’80s for me.
[We’re at the end of another decade now, the decade of the war on terror, which has felt, for the most part, like the war on reason, common sense, and all that is good in this world. I can’t help but think of Bob Dole, standing there shaking his fist as we all laughed, when I read about John McCain blustering on trying to defend his indefensible stance on allowing homosexuals to serve openly and proudly in the military.]