“Grandpa, tell me again about the Hard Times.”
“Oh, Jimmy, I love telling you stories, but I just told you that one yesterday!”
“I know, Gramps, but that was just the same stuff they tell us at the new school–the constant experimenting, the violence, the confusion and chaos–but you were there. Tell me what it was really like, please.”
Grandpa sighed and ran a hand through his thinning hair as he sank into his comfortable chair by the window. “The Hard Times? You know, nobody thought of calling it that until it had been around for years. The name first popped up on the underground web sites of traditionalists–‘the haters,’ most people called them at the time; people who ‘hated’ subversion, hedonism, socialism, who wouldn’t ‘tolerate’ the demands of others for radical, unprecedented change in the name of ‘fairness.’ The government took a cue from China and shut down most of those sites just as quickly as they shut down the talk radio shows those rebels started out on, but still, the resistance lingered.
“I was never a part of that resistance. It wasn’t that I was too young to join in, but that I was too young to know that I should join in. Especially when so many of my elders sanctioned that radicalism with their zealous endorsements, also all in the name of ‘progress.’ I was taken in by the idea of generations, centuries, of wrongdoing about to be undone by an earth-shattering revolutionary who would finally get everyone what they had been taught by the media their whole lives they deserved. It was exciting, it felt righteous, it was this mass mob mentality that you just can’t understand unless you were part of it–totally convinced that the more you taunted and censored the ones you labelled the ‘enemy,’ the more just you were. It was like a contest to see who could be coolest by being the most extreme.”
Grandpa paused for breath and rolled his eyes up to the ceiling, seeming to search for words to give his thoughts form. His face looked lost. “Good grief, how did we get so far that the majority of a country could fall for such a childish scheme and think we were saving the world?”
He leaned forward and rested his hands on his knees, and when he didn’t speak for a minute, Jimmy tried to get him to continue with a question: “So President Obama was evil?”
Grandpa’s face instantly looked up. “Evil? Heavens, no. Not ‘evil,’ just very, very wrong. He genuinely thought he was doing the right things, there’s no doubt that he sincerely wanted to do the most good for the most people, with no ulterior motives for his own aggrandizement…but they say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. No, Obama wasn’t evil…but his policies had that effect. And some of the people around him…yes, some of them were evil.
“They haven’t taught you in school yet about the law of unintended consequences. That’s one of the very best reasons to be cautious when people want to change what has obviously worked for hundreds of years. You never know what all the effects of a new action will be. But in retrospect, I think we should have seen what would happen. Yes, the chess pieces were all moved into place by 2008. When the last of our defenses was removed, endgame was ready.
“As soon as Obama was elected, the marginalized anti-social goons came out of the woodwork. Up until then, there were restraints on public conduct; the leftist fetishists almost reveled in being underdogs. But the minute they sensed that, after forty years of seeping into the American consciousness, the reigns of power were theirs, what with the Unholy Trinity of Obama-Reid-Pelosi in power, they sprung the trap.
“By the end of the first year, bills fast tracked through the legislative and executive branches mandating that we would never fight another war for any reason, because all violence is always a tool of corporations to exploit peace lovers, that nobody would ever be able to be excluded from anything–especially marriage or citizenship–for any reason, because setting any criteria for anything is discrimination, and that’s an ugly word and always bad, and that everybody would always be able to call on the government to have the exact same quality of life that the most well off Americans could conceivably enjoy, because, again, anything less was clearly evidence of some kind of discrimination, and if ‘all men are created equal,’ then nobody should have to suffer anything that everybody doesn’t have to suffer.