Americans seem to be a frustratingly short-sighted bunch. Our collective memories have been impaired, perhaps by too much “Housewives of Beverly Hills,” or Kardashians, or Juicy Carl’s Jr. commercials – or maybe it just started with Saturday morning cartoons.
Whatever, social scientists agree we’ve become a more easily distracted, immediate reward-seeking, short-sighted bunch than prior versions of our American selves.
Thus it’s important to set a marker and memorialize important transition points.
They do it all the time in football. A play ends, and the chains go down the field, marking the progress made and setting up the next play for a first down or touchdown. Movement is always measured, even when it’s backwards.
With politics, as in sports, it’s important to note where one play stopped and the next one starts. It’s how we credit progress, how we keep score, how we know where we are in the game.
Without memorialization, things get blurred as fights break down over blurred first downs and worse – touchdowns.
President Obama leaves Washington in just a month now. A very contentious – increasingly so – President-elect Trump is headed to the top spot.
Already, sensational news is flying with Twitter bombs on Lockheed and Boeing and Russian intrusion into White House affairs. Love him or hate him, President Trump is going to keep things interesting until he terms out or is turned out.
Trump promised jobs and more jobs to the passed-over working class of Middle America. He promised justice against all those mean companies that have been outsourcing jobs to Asia and Mexico.
We’re going to “Make America great again” – with specifics still forthcoming.
On Jan. 20, 2017, we will officially move the chains and mark the spot of American progress. One quarterback will leave the game and another with start.
A new set of downs will be handed to the possessing team, and all of us will be helpless at the sidelines to witness the ongoing game, for better or worse. Where will the ball lie on that important day?
There are some key plays that have transpired in the past eight years that should go in the scorebook:
When Obama took office eight years ago, America was in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression: losing 800,000 jobs a month, stock market at 7,200, and housing values nearly cut in half.
Banks were folding left and right and businesses were collapsing. We were in a full-on free fall and desperation was everywhere.
More than 20 percent of Americans had no medical insurance. We were winding down two terribly costly and unnecessary wars.
That’s where the chains were set when Quarterback Obama took the field.
Since then, the stock market has exceeded all-time highs. Since then, more than 13 million jobs have been created, surpassing prior all-time highs. About 200,000 new jobs are added every month.
Your home has returned to or exceeded all-time value highs. Your savings are secure at your now-secure bank. Businesses are largely robust, and most complain there’s not enough qualified people to hire for their new, modern jobs.
Only 12 percent of Americans now lack health care. True, we’re still involved in very bothersome low-key military engagements, but these are nothing like the 6,000 deaths and trillion-dollar losses of Bush’s making.
Life in America has normalized. We wake up each day more or less knowing that today will be like yesterday. We’ve had no planes crashing into buildings, no Pentagon blown up.
Terrorism in America has gone from red and orange alerts with everyone taping up their windows to something much, much less than everyday street crime.
We’ve made progress on environmental actions. Air and water is cleaner. Fuel is cheap. Renewable energy is quickly rising.
Plug in your car if you like – you are no longer a slave to the $5-a-gallon gas Dick Cheney helped engineer.
In short, when the ball is handed over on Jan. 20, 2017, things will have been good, predictable, even-keeled, and maybe even boring, save for the new quarterback’s antics off-field before the game. Life is good for so many more Americans. Life is normal. Life holds potential for far more than before Obama showed up.
Now the chains are set. With unemployment at less than 5 percent, high stock markets, high home values and strong safety nets in place for more Americans than ever, the ball is turned over.
From these chain markers we start the game over. Let’s hope to high heaven our American chains of progress move steadily forward, as promised by candidate Trump.
Let’s hope upon hope there’s no four sacks and you’re out for President Trump.
The chains are set and memorialized for the records. All the blathering and boasting in the world won’t change history for what it will be on Jan. 20, 2017. History will again be recorded, and again, for better or worse.
Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.