Romanticizing the past does little to help future

info@islandpacket.comJuly 21, 2013 

It is a common tactic in political discourse to refer to some ambiguous yet idealistic historical period called "the past," or "back then," or more conspicuously, "the good old days."

Often, such dubious appeal is accepted as rational argument, eliciting a collective nostalgic sigh. The comfort of belief in such a past is no threat, but there is trouble in that such misguided reasoning inevitably determines votes. Thus, it is my sad duty to admit: No such past has ever existed, and any appeal to one is inherently fallacious.

Most notably, the deification of that group of undereducated slave-holders dubbed "the Founding Fathers," a title so grandiose as to have religious connotation. Together, these men wrote that unassailable and supposedly invincible document called the Constitution; a document, which, as many neglect to note, was not the first outline of American politics and which was at the time disputed for its potential totalitarian implications. Any appeal to the desires of these men in modern political discourse is ridiculous, just as any belief that these men had the foresight to prepare a government for the 21st century is ridiculous.

When one bemoans modernity as having the most scandalous government policies and abhorrent social liberality, what is appealing in comparison? That age in which we nearly eradicated an entire race and enslaved another or that in which we condemned women to the domestic sphere and children to the factories?

The past is beautiful only when it is romanticized; but then it is fiction.

Alex Reamy

Hilton Head Island

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