Monday, October 20, 2008

Better Days...

We are less than three weeks away from choosing a new President, from choosing a new direction, regardless of which candidate is victorious. And looking back on the last eight years makes me long for days when our political system gave us something to get excited over. Though I was too young to remember it, I long for days like when Reagan was President.

I long for days when people are truly proud to be Americans, with no disclaimer, reservations or caveats. I long for a President who, when massive struggle or scandal arises, is respected enough and wise enough to solicit even the advice of a member of the opposing party (like Reagan did following Iran Contra). I long for a time when we actually feel like tomorrow will be better than today, when we can spend Saturday on autopilot knowing that those in Washington are working overtime with our best interests in mind.

None are perfect, but Reagan came closer than most.

Peggy Noonan, one of the most beautiful speech writers and wordsmiths of the last 50 years, reflects on the last eight years in her newest book, “Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It.” In it she says, “By the end of the O’s, the end of the Bush era, I think this could be said: What began with love ended in dissention. The greatest political passions were funneled into opposition, not support. Democrats on the ground were left longing for change, and Republicans for Ronald Reagan.” I think she is too modest. I think the longing she speaks about reaches well beyond the Republican party.

Though I have only the vaguest of memories of the beloved era, I feel confident in my desire. I long for the next Ronald Reagan.

Don't you...

**Update: For that matter, I long for a John F. Kennedy.**


Anonymous said...

Interesting you mention JFK. I just yesterday heard someone compare BHO to JFK...and in a good way.

Not sure of the implications however - were there as much hatred and opposition to JFK when he ran?

I long for change - but the change I long for I don't believe will come from either major party unfortunately.

darin said...

My ultimate longing is for the Kingdom of God. Can a disciple of Christ really feel the unbridled patriotism you suggest? I can't imagine not having some reservations...
As grateful as I am for the freedom's I enjoy as an american, I also see that as a nation we fall far short of the kingdom.
And I cringe when I remember Reagan.
Give me Carter any day.

Jonathan Merritt said...


I appreciate your words about the ultimate longing we should have for the kingdom of God. AMEN!

However, I can't back you up on the Carter thing. And you would be hard pressed to find a Presidential historian anywhere who would either.


Jonathan Merritt said...


I think history has determined JFK was a good President and served during a wonderful time in history when America still represented as much nobility as a human-run country can.

And, I agree. I have serious doubts that either party can usher in substantial, positive change.


darin said...

thanks for responding
finally a real blog dialogue

presidential historian notwithstanding.
How about Reagans woeful disregard of the AIDS epidemic or his apparent ignorance about the plight of the poor and homeless in the nation during his tenure.

Carter worked tirelessly for a peace process, what could be more Christian than that. If I remember correctly he installed solar panels on the white-house, which you should be all for.
I think that he is completely undeserving of his reputation, regardless of what historians say.

Jonathan Merritt said...


That Reagan was unaware of the plight of the American poor is an opinion, and one that I wouldn't accept. He may not have dealt with the poverty situation through sweeping and unbridled welfare, but it is without a doubt that he helped rebuild the economy that Carter destroyed and the poor saw the benefits. While not perfect in domestic policy, he was certainly better than most. Where he also shined, and this is mostly why I wrote this post was 1) His ability to cut through partisanship. Even the Democrats liked Reagan. 2) His ability to communicate. Earning the title "The Great Orator" because he could do what our current President cannot--speak to the people with candor and honesty. And don't forget that he oversaw the downfall of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Again, never perfect, but better than most.

Carter on the other hand was a terrible economist and oversaw a foreign policy that still confuses international policy experts. It can basically be boiled down to "treat your friends poorly and your enemies well." As a result, he muddled the Iran hostage crisis beyond belief. Even Georgians myself were ashamed of Carter. But his poor Presidency doesn't rob him of some of his fine humanitarian work since leaving Washington.

I once heard someone assert, "You know, the moral majority got Reagan elected." I smiled. "No. Jimmy Carter got Reagan elected."

History doesn't always get it right, but I think they were spot on here. Perhaps we just disagree on that point.

Good thoughts, Darin!


darin said...

before picking a debate with you again I'll wait for a topic I am more informed about...
such as tastes great vs. less filling
anyway, thanks for the schooling
I disagree with you on reagan
but I like your style

Shane "George" Lambert said...


Great points on Reagan. I, like you, would love to see another Reagan in the White House. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening with this year's election.

And about Carter: his work through Habitat for Humanity has been outstanding. Habitat's "Jimmy Carter Work Project" in my hometown (Anniston, AL) a few years ago was phenomonal.

Carter's political legacy? Well, that's another story entirely.

How will history remember Jimmy Carter? A good and decent man, but a terrible president.

I always enjoy your blog. Thanks for the healthy forum.

And Roll Tide!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the infatuation with Ronald Reagan.

Here was a man who sold arms to the Iranians so he could clandestinely buy weapons, and then ship them to feed civil war(s) in Central America. Wars where our 'allies' in these civil wars were involved in the murder of church workers in these countries. I guess the ends justify the means.

Reagan was not known to be a regular church attendee.

Suggestion: Don't look to government and government leaders to solve spiritual and religious issues in the society. You are just asking to be let down and/or taken advantage of.

Anonymous said...

dude, aren't you 25 or something? how the heck can you long for anything? you have no perspective on all this.

you long for the days when we had a pro-choice republican in the white house? convenient for you and your current confused politics.

..and your JFK reference about killed me. lol.

Jonathan Merritt said...

What kills me is when people post comments under anonymity. LOL

Jonathan Merritt said...

Side note for anonymous:

Your post almost made sense...almost. It would have actually sounded coherent if I has used the term "miss." Had I said "I miss the days..." I would understand your post. But anyone can long for anything (defined: "To have an earnest desire for").

So let me repeat what I said earlier. I long for those days.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is comfortable leaving their name and tracks all over the internet. Anonymous posters can be good people too. At least that's how I think of myself.