I’m starting a post about the state of the US when I started high school. I hope others will write their own. I’ve found it interesting to look back and see what was going on when I started high school. It’s amazing how much I didn’t know about the world then, so going back and looking at all the news highlights, knowing what I know now, is a journey. I didn’t actually intend on this being anything but a fun post, but reality set in as I started to write.
I started high school in the year 2000. Bill Clinton was president, but as we all know, it was an election year. THE election year. Bush versus Gore. The outcome would shape everything I’ve known since.
When I started high school:
- Y2K turned out to be just a big party
- The US had a $232 billion SURPLUS not a deficit
- Gas was $1.26 per gallon
- Unemployment was at 3.8% (an absurdly low rate)
- The Yankees won the World Series, the Rams won the Superbowl
- Survivor was the number one show (can’t believe that show is still around)
- Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Eminem, blah, blah, blah
We should have known things were brewing. In 2000:
- The Pyrenean Ibex went extinct
- The Dot-Com bubble burst
- Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia (I mean, damn, he’s still there)
- I’m sure I was wearing ridiculous clothing held over from the 90’s
I started high school before the Supreme Court put George Bush in office, changing the next few decades of military and political roles and influence. It was before 9/11, an event that taught Americans that our isolation can be violated. It reopened the wounds of those who lived through Pearl Harbor and taught a new generation that the days of our invulnerability were gone. For a moment in time, though, it united the country as we tried to heal.
When I started high school, I thought the idea of war was cool (having not learned what war really was). The invasion of Iraq had my full support. I didn’t understand then, when I started high school, that my country was capable of mistakes.
We started the year 2000 with hope. Hope for our booming economy. Hope for global partnership. We were boosted up for a new millennium, so full of energy that anything seemed possible. If the year 2000 taught us anything, it’s that things can change.
Since the year I started high school, things have changed. The victor of the 2000 election was handed one of the worst situations our country has ever faced, and he handled it well…at first. He attacked those we thought were responsible, then abused our blank check to start a war with someone else.
In 2000, our economy was so good that we couldn’t know that a combination of 90’s mortgage policies and labor union exploitation would set off a major economic disaster. We couldn’t know that our hopes would be dashed by 2007, but renewed in 2008 when we thought racism was on its way to defeat. Our first black president would bring us together, or so we thought.
Since 2000, a hurricane in one of our oldest cities taught us that underlying racial tensions can lead to delayed assistance for those who need it the most. Since then, race has taken center stage. Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott. Ferguson and Baltimore. In my home state, a sick and deranged young man murdered nine African Americans in Charleston. In a church. I wish he was alone in his thinking, but after what we all just saw in Charlottesville, Virginia, we know better.
Black Lives Matter was born because of much of this, though we should have never gotten to a place where we had to be reminded that anyone’s lives matter. How is it that we don’t know, don’t realize, that every single life should matter?
Just a thought, but most of that happened under a black president.
How could we know, in 2000, that a real estate businessman, a reality TV joke, would become president of our country. We should have known. We would have known, if we had been careful in monitoring just how much certain groups in this country were looking for an answer to the hate they had been building. We’d have seen those who were just waiting to hear their dreams spoken by a demagogue who could disguise their ideals inside the guise of patriotic nationalism. Too bad we never paid attention to 1930s German history.
Yes, we’ve had trouble since 2000.
And damn, here’s what’s happening now:
- North Korea keeps throwing tantrums, which would almost be funny if they didn’t have the largest concentration camp complex since Hitler and Stalin. Oh yeah, and nuclear weapons.
- The administration pretty much denies climate change. You’re welcome, future generations.
- Our president is being investigated by Robert Mueller for who knows what at this point.
- Laughably, an all GOP Congress can’t pass anything.
- The President pardoned law breaker Joe Arpaio, hoping Hurricane Harvey destroying parts of Texas would drown out the news that he did so.
- Just, basically, everything Trump has gone wrong.
But we’re not going to give up. I didn’t know about these issues when I started high school, but now I do. I know how to write, so I’ll figure it out that way. I would never have come out back then, but now I have. We’ll make it through this okay. Just hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride.