Gather around the blog post kitchen table, young'uns.
(Which means just about everyone, since I'm 73, older than all but a few people reading this, but, hey, if you're a sentient Giant Sequoia, I'm a baby compared to you.)
I realize that hearing senior citizens talk about the good old days is just about the most boring thing imaginable. Not wanting to inflict that on you, I'm going to do something different.
Talk about the bad old days.
I feel the need to do this because it wasn't all that long ago when I was a youngster just out of college who subscribed to the 1960's mantra, Don't trust anybody over 30.
Well, actually it was all that long ago, about 50 years. In that half century I've learned a few things. Not because I'm smart.
Because the sheer passage of time gives us baby boomers a perspective on where our country was way back when that impels our sometimes frantic desire to warn people about the danger of our country heading that way again.
Which is a clear and present danger, not the sort of warning my grandmother used to give childhood me, like "Never stand under a light globe where the bulb has just been changed, since the globe could fall, hit you on the head, and you're dead."
No, what I'm warning about is a very real commitment by a large share of the Republican Party to return the United States to the way things were when I was in high school, 1962-66.
OK, not totally, obviously. The GOP doesn't possess a national time machine. We'll still have smartphones, big screen TVs, computers, and other benefits of living in the 21st century.
What we could lack, though, may sound crazy to those who have grown up in an age of societal progress. However, let me assure you, as someone who grew up when the following were absent from the cultural landscape of the United States, that what was missing, then became a reality, can go missing again.
Meaning, progress isn't inevitable. Societies can go backward. Hard won gains can be lost. All it takes is people, and voters, becoming complacent, figuring that No way could our country ever return to...
Well, here's how things stood when I was in high school.
-- Women were second class citizens. Abortion was illegal everywhere. Girls couldn't wear pants in school. They could be cheerleaders, but could only compete in a few sports. Home economics was required. Getting a loan or credit card typically required a man's signature. Few women worked outside the home.
-- No such thing as LGBTQ rights. We knew there were homosexuals. But they were considered deviants. Any boy who seemed effeminate would be taunted with Queer! Homo! Faggot! There was zero discussion of gender identity or sexual preferences in school other than the traditional male/female. Any suggestion that gay marriage would ever be legal -- ridiculous.
-- Blacks lacked basic rights. I was six years old when the Supreme Court finally declared racial segregation in public schools to be illegal in 1954. But southern States fought the ruling for quite a few years. As late as 1963 Alabama governor George Wallace tried to stop Black students from enrolling in the University of Alabama. Racial discrimination in voting wasn't banned until 1965.
Our country has come a long way since those not-so-good old days. Problem is, there's strenuous efforts to reverse that progress by conservatives. They can't be allowed to succeed.
My fear is that younger people who have grown up without knowing anything other than equal, or almost equal, rights of women, the LGBTQ community, and Blacks will be complacent in the battle to preserve those rights against Republican efforts to turn the clock back to the 1950s and early 1960s.
Like I said, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to human rights and democracy. What seems impossible to lose can be lost. Hopefully this won't happen if enough people wake up and realize the need to preserve our hard-won social gains.