20th Century, Go to Sleep

I may not exactly be what you’d call a futurist, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about the future and the evolution of ideas.

Since 2001, our country has been a breathing anachronism — a zombie-corpse of outdated ideology and backward-looking worldviews — living in a state of Cold War suspended animation, pushing outdated agendas and peddling simplistic platitudes to an indifferent world which had increasingly moved on to other things and the urgent business of reality.

Yesterday, we said “enough” to sticking our heads in the sand. Yesterday, we said “no” to “drill baby drill,” and “yes” to a real and sustainable energy economy. And yesterday, we showed the world that the America that they love — the America that its founders had hoped it would become — is back, functioning and healthy.

I’m not naïve enough to think that one political party or another will magically take the country in the right direction. In fact, now is when the real work of shaping policy through direct political action will need to begin. The battle is not over now.  You must participate to get the kind of country you want to live in, and that’s true regardless of who is in office.

But, one thing is true: leadership matters. And at this time of transition and change, America desperately needed a leader with imagination, hope, and a sense of the future. And we have that leader in Barack Obama. He has singlehandedly rewritten the rules of presidential politics in America and has proven that he is the political heir of both Kennedy and Reagan. Barack Obama has brought hope back to America and the world. With Barack Obama, the 21st century begins in earnest.

As children, we were all sold a vision of the future, and this was supposed to be it.  We were supposed to be rocketing around with jetpacks, with robot assistants and TV watches. By the year 2000, children imagined their lives would be studded with space age marvels. But, 2000-2008 has felt more like the final cold grasp of a 20th century that has outlived its welcome; a sick and disordered hallucination of the century that wouldn’t die.

I remain a student of history, and I am thoroughly ready for the 20th Century to pass into the history books, and now, packed up and archived along with the last 8 years which are rightfully its, I send it on and bid it farewell.  20th Century, go to sleep; really deep; we won’t blink.

2009 is the new 2001. Welcome to the future.


#1 Vyaas on 11.06.08 at 1:22 am

Well said. And it isn’t just America that’s witnessed something historic; what has happened and will happen could set the template for future political rationale.

#2 mjsulliv on 06.10.11 at 4:45 pm

Hindsight is 20/20. But as a student of history you should know, and be encouraged over time that reactions are recurrent, and that it takes a very long time to consolidate change. There was a progressive vision of what the American state could look like in 1900. It took until 1933 to get that vision off the ground and even longer for Roosevelt and others to overcome subsequent reactions by the Court. The same will likely be true in this century. Until a generation that had progressive elements – but that now fears immigration, demographic change, and the loss of entitlements that it takes for granted loses power, we’re not going to see Obama’s more ambitious programs take off. We’ll probably see a Republican reaction in 2012. That doesn’t mean reform is over.