Curtis Dahlgren
America swings (left, right, left)
By Curtis Dahlgren
April 27, 2023

[I thought it would be interesting to repost the column I wrote one month after Trump beat Hillary.]

"Many college grads are merely drugged with small doses of intellectual laudanum [opium] and until such time as its influence wears off, they are unable to adjust themselves to the ordinary responsibilities of life." – Gov. Wm. D. Hoard (Wisconsin)

THE GAY NINETIES: Socialism was becoming cool on campus and after 1900, Russia swung to the left all the way. America, in 1912, rejected Teddy Roosevelt and elected Woodie Wilson, an Ivy League president. In 1916, he ran on the premise that he had kept us out of war (oops). "The war to end all wars" didn't.

We swung to the right with Harding and Coolidge, the latter being the last eastern Republican to win the White House until Donald Trump (and silent Cal was a great one).

Academia continued to swing leftward, and after the "roaring twenties" and the Depressed early 1930s, America swung to the left with Teddy's cousin Franklin D. He was a friend of Josef Stalin but circumstances led to his election four times. Academic campi supported the war following Pearl Harbor, and boys quit college to go fight axis imperialists.

Upon FDR's death, Harry S. Truman, a middle-American, took a swing to the center-left. He ended one war but botched a "police action" in Korea. We lost more American boys in that one than in Harry's final invasion of Japan, and he "did not choose to run" in 52. With Ike we swung to the center-right and we had peace-through-strength and prosperity without war.

In 1960, in a controversial election, we swung slightly to the left again, although JFK was "right" on economics (cut taxes). In 1964, a critical election, America rejected a man we were warned "might start a war over there" in favor of a Texan who dragged out a war "over there." LBJ "did not choose to run" in 68, as Nixon got his "second chance."

The Silent Majority swung the country even to the right of Nixon, but Academia went in the opposite direction. Even though one-third of humanity had fallen under godless Communism, students marched chanting "Ho ho ho, Ho Chi Minh; dare to fight and dare to win" [defeat the U.S.]! Due to the combination of Watergate and division promoted by the media, Vietnam ended even worse than the Korean "war" (despite winning the Tet offensive).

Again a President did not choose to continue; there was a Ford in our future, built Big 10 tough, but in our bicentennial year, he was beaten by a peanut farmer from Georgia who couldn't beat an actor from Hollywood (for you campus snowflakes, I'm not making this up). In ten years' time the pendulum swung from its leftward apex to its watermark rightward. Freedom got a new lease on life in the 1980s.

After the Berlin Wall got torn down, anti-Americanism on campus wasn't cool for awhile, but another former GOP VP bit the dust. After a voter tantrum in 1994, a Democrat Administration swung slightly to the right for awhile (we even had one balanced budget).

After 9/11, the country was "United we stand." That lasted for about TWO WEEKS. The right-leaning President and left-leaning Congress shadow-boxed as war and reaction to it reared its ugly head again. And in 2008, voters swung further to the left than EVER before. A right-wing woman on the ticket couldn't save a moderate Republican. Anti-Americanism on campus got so bad that red-blooded boys couldn't stand it. The average campus is now 60-40 female. And the 2012 election was a fluke because the GOP nominee was to the left of the VP candidate.

Surprise, surprise! In 2014 and 2016, America swung to the right again. Paul Ryan said, "The people were tired of being tired." The D-party's platform was so far to the left that rank-and-file union members were turned off. Even they know there is no FREE lunch. Academia, which had had visions of free college tuition, turned to weeping and gnashing of teeth.

However (surprise), economic optimism is evidently on the rise again in 2016. The out-going President had focused on volume of money while the in-coming Administration is focusing on velocity of money (which is organic and not static). As I believe Yogi Berra said about baseball, "Fifty percent of the game is 90 percent mental." As for that "pendulum" though, I always say there is no pendulum on the cultural issues; there's a ratchet on it so it's always a one-way flow.


Desmond Tutu said, "If you want peace, don't talk to your friends; talk to your enemy." Much of the Great Divide in this country is based on semantics and emphasis. One side preaches hard work and responsibility, as Governor Hoard did, while the other side is nearly obsessed with "rights" and freebies. Can't we have both rights and responsibility? Simply put, the last word in "American" (someone said) is CAN.

P.S. Looking ahead, I don't have a dog in the hunt for the GOP nomination, but I just hope and pray, for his own sake, that Trump doesn't go negative on any other Republicans. I just hope there will still be elections in the year 2024.

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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