Trump World and the Beaver
“Leave it to Beaver” was a television show from 1957 to 1963. It presented the model suburban family, the Cleavers, living in Mayfield, Anytown, USA. It was a tranquil world, as June cleaned the house in pearls, dress and heels and Ward went to work in shirt and tie, then came home to the business of raising Wally and “the Beaver”.
It was white, middle class, suburban, and has become a model of what life used to be like. “If only we could go back to those innocent times,” before Vietnam (though we were already there), civil rights (Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955), and grateful Muslims (“Lawrence of Arabia,” 1962). Jobs seemed plentiful (unemployment rates averaged 6% – currently 4.8%) and crime didn’t happen (1.6 in a hundred thousand chance of violent crime, versus a high of 7.6 in 1992, and a current 3.8.)
All of those issues existed, but Ward, June, Wally and the Beaver never had to deal with them. And with the election of 2016, many in this nation were trying to go back to that idyllic, make believe, world. Gay marriage, immigrant rights, global warming, a black President: the drumbeat of change, change, change that many want to escape. Escape back to Mayfield, to a non-existent time when everything was “right.”
Did this nation’s reach towards acceptance and freedom exceed its grasp? Here is just a few of the changes we’ve gone through in the past 50 years:
1993 – President Clinton authorizes “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military
2011 – President Obama allows military service regardless of sexual preference
2016 – President Obama allows transgendered to serve in military
1970 – US Census defines minorities at 16.5%
2020 – US Census projects minorities at 39.9%
2042 – US Census projects “minorities” at 50.1%
1990 – Major Broadcast News – ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS
2016 – Major Broadcast News – ABC, CBS, NBC – MSNBC, FOX, PBS,
hundreds(thousands?) of online sites
1990 – Flags memorializing the Confederacy flew over the state capitols of South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia
2017 – Mississippi still displays the Confederate Battle Flag, some other states still have some symbolism of the Confederacy in their flags.
Our nation has moved towards change with what to some is alarming swiftness. While there were plenty of issues specific to the Trump/Clinton Presidential race, there is a much larger context that should be considered. Many in this country, after electing the first African-American President in 2008, were demanding a halt. The first woman President was beyond them. Even Donald Trump was better than this crazy pace of change: to go back to a calmer time, when Wally and the Beaver went to school in Mayfield, and the world was predictable and constant.
That world existed only on television. But its “reality” still exists in many minds. If we look at the “Red and Blue” schism (or the “flyover country schism”) we need to acknowledge that the pace of change in America is incredibly unsettling to many. They feel left behind, looking at a country they don’t recognize, seeing things they didn’t think were possible, and facing challenges that Ward and June never acknowledged.
As one of her final acts of the Presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and her staff wore purple to symbolize a uniting of America. As the “resistance” movement moves forward, we should not be secure in a 2.8 million vote majority. We need to find ways to assuage the concerns of those who feel left behind by the rapid pace of change.