I wasn’t old enough to witness Reagan’s presidency, but my dad was. He said, and I quote, “He wasn’t that great.” But he was an actor, so there ya go.
It was the 80s. People didn’t give a shit about anything. Except for like, doing cocaine or whatever. And I think Reagan’s presidency, and stupid slogan, was about bringing back the 1950s era American Dream. I assume because that was when he was a popular actor, and also, because male dominance over women was much more widely accepted. And what misogynist wouldn’t want to go back to a time when women could be mothers or have careers, but not both. And couldn’t apply for their own credit cards without their husband’s or father’s permission. It’s nice to be needed.
Yes, I’m calling Reagan a misogynist. But I’d call anyone a misogynist, and a couple of other things, who thinks that our country was better for people in the past rather than in the present. I know it’s not perfect. It never will be, but the goal is to always get better, to give people more liberty, more freedom. So when you say you want to go back to a time when people had less of that, specifically women and people of color, that worries me. Because let’s face it, white men, America has always been great for you. It was created for you, by you and with your best interests in mind. There’s literally no denying that because it’s 100% true.
But I’m going to give Reagan, Trump and anyone who actually says this dumb thing, without being ironic, the benefit of the doubt. I think there are a lot of Americans out there who have felt their government hasn’t been doing anything for them over the last 8 years. Which is funny because every Republican I know goes on and on about how the government should stay out of their lives. Except when it comes to abortion. Government should totally be in women’s vaginas. But I digress.
People didn’t know it yet, but when Reagan was campaigning in 1980, they were yearning for a simpler time. After the Vietnam War, after disco died, after doing lines of coke while roller skating, they wanted to get back to their American Dream. They wanted to own houses and raise families and go on exotic bi-annual vacations to places like Disneyland and Cuba. I mean, no, not Cuba. Mexico! Maybe Europe when the kids got to college and could really appreciate it. Maybe all that culture would keep them off drugs. Cocaine in particular. You did it, and are fine, but your kids really shouldn’t. Reagan-era parents just hid their marijuana stash as best they could, and went out to mow the lawn or something. It was a new decade, and what better way to counter 10 years of rampant excessiveness than with a slogan that implies we had to go back in order to move forward.
Cut to 2016, the age of misinformation and millennials*. Trump, in his infinite wisdom, asks himself, “Who is a Republican president everyone loved, and what was his campaign slogan?” Answer: Ronald Reagan. Make American Great Again. “Kellyanne, can we rip off Reagan? Let’s do it anyway. People will love it. It’s gonna be ‘uge. I’m the greatest, and I have a very smart brain. Look at me go, Kellyanne!”
Have you ever heard that saying, ‘Good artist copy, great artists steal’? And it actually worked. It actually fucking worked. Amazing. It’s just too bad that we’ve come too far to go back this time.
Like, this American Dream bullshit. What the fuck is that? I don’t want to own a home. First of all, I can’t afford it. And if I borrow money from my parents, I just get shit about being an entitled millennial. Plus, when I was in college, the housing market crashed. It doesn’t really seem like a safe investment when you knew 25-year-olds who filed for bankruptcy and moved back in with their parents because they lost their jobs and could no longer afford the home they’d bought just a year prior. Anyway, the only people I know who buy houses these days are friends who are married, getting married, or accidentally got pregnant. And they move, almost exclusively, back to the neighborhoods where we grew up. Closer to family, perhaps? Maybe it’s what their parents recommended and could afford for them? Who knows. And why the hell would I want to have a baby? So it could inevitably become my parent’s responsibility? Because I can’t afford them either. And I really don’t want to start a cycle of poverty.
Is there anything else that we can tack on to this “dream” so that it even somewhat applies to me? So that ‘Make America Great Again’ doesn’t feel like some old cliché that’s as rung out as a dirty sponge living under your kitchen sink? Retaining my human rights. Being financially independent. Not having debt. Those are my dreams.
So I’m getting my IUD, and I’m writing, writing, writing, hoping that someone in the world notices me and says, “Hey, you can write for us. We can pay you half of what you’re asking for.” And I say, “Okay.” Because that’s usually how it goes. Then I empty my menstrual cup, go make dinner and think about where I thought I’d be at 29.
*All information presented in this article is potentially incorrect. But who gives a shit about fact-checking?