For centuries scholars have debated the value of applying past experiences to present day events. Most of us ordinary people accept the premise that our past drives our present either as a positive force or a negative one. Personal and historical memories return to us in piecemeal fashion, dependent on what importance we placed on those events at the time they happened. Often, the color of our memories changes over the years, making some memories worse, better, more distorted, more wonderful. The United States of America has also had its good times and bad, its shameful times and its glorious times.
This June has started off with quite an assembly of resurrected past events. I have watched a much older John Dean again testifying before the American people about impeachment and executive branch misbehavior. I have seen the unspeakable treatment of the children identified as the Central Park Five brought to life again in film and theatre. We revisited the concept of draft dodging with the cemeteries of Normandy as a backdrop. I am sad that the ability to celebrate the historic passage on June 4, 1920, of the women’s right to vote is overshadowed by current efforts to pass oppressive laws criminalizing a woman’s ability to live as freely with her choices as does a man. These events reappearing in the news tell us we are presently desperate for solutions, for resolutions, for a way out of this soul-wrenching destructive situation in which we find ourselves. Nothing in the past two years has encouraged us to be a more noble, a more honorable or a more united country. Nothing. Attempts to blame past administrations, past policies, past failings run rampant, but this Republican administration has not produced any improvements to the nation’s standard of living, to our education system, to our access to health care, to our environment, to our justice system, or, tragically, to our immigration system. Nothing.
One of the great things about the unwieldy number of Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidency is that all their campaign speeches and announcements provide daily reminders of our nation’s greatest accomplishments. Most Americans willingly fought for freedom against oppressive dictators. Most Americans know that we achieved uncontested scientific superiority through our medical discoveries and our space program. Most Americans personally supported the expansion of equal economic and social opportunities for all Americans. We have been unrivaled in our desire to eradicate illness, poverty and pollution all over the world. We have supported our allies and celebrated their successes on the road to democracy and economic improvement. We, in fact, have always been a great country with great aspirations, and we have the memories of past successes to show us the way toward a better future.
The first of four Democratic Presidential Debates will be held June 26 and June 27. Given the number of candidates involved, I don’t expect any monumental insight to occur those nights. However, I look forward to being so proud that the Democratic Party has produced so many dedicated public servants to articulate our values, past and present. Amidst all our flaws and failures, we strive to support the laws of this land, the principles upon which we were founded and the potential for the future greatness of the United States of America.