English: President Barack Obama discusses his ...

English: President Barack Obama discusses his plan for health care reform in a speech delivered to a joint session of the 111th United States Congress on September 9, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) is alive and thriving in today’s GOP. Kimberley Strassel writing in the Wall Street Journal criticized President Obama for not going  to Congress before striking Libya and is now criticizing him for seeking approval from Congress before striking Syria. In his book, The Center Holds, Obama and his Enemies, Jonathan Alter blames ODS at the highest levels in the 2012 Romney campaign for Romney’s loss. Essentially the Romney campaign didn’t see the handwriting on the wall.

Two different eras

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an Ameri...

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an American boat in California, 1964. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Reagan era began on January 20, 1981, when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President for his first term. 1981 was the first year of the Reagan era, or year 1 AR (After Reagan). I was born in 1941, the year 40 BR (Before Reagan). Thus I have lived my life in two eras, the one before Reagan and the one after Reagan. For me and for many Americans, the era before Reagan was the better one. My son was born in 1982, or year 2 AR, and never experienced the era before Reagan. I believe that the after Reagan era is coming to a close. Let it be soon.

I began the before Reagan era as a member of a lower middle-class family. I was the first in my family to attend college, but I did not graduate until much later in life and then after five or more years of credits, I received a two-year degree. I entered the business world in the year 20 BR and climbed the corporate ladder quickly. I achieved enough success that I drove a leased Ferrari for four years and later we purchased a used Rolls for my wife. When my son was born, I quit my job and eventually entered the healthcare profession which I enjoyed much more than the business world, although the pay was less.

Jack Welch took over the CEO position at GE in year 1 AR and pioneered in the outsourcing and offshoring of 10,000s of American manufacturing jobs. I predicted that the loss of good-paying American jobs would lead to reduced numbers of American consumers who could afford American products, and I wrote to the Wall Street Journal with my conclusions. My warning was ignored.

I watched the developing economy and I could see that millions of Americans were struggling to maintain their hold on the rungs of the middle-class ladder. Like others, I went deeply into debt to maintain a lifestyle I could no longer afford. I knew that it was inevitable that the effects of the Reagan era would catch up to me eventually and now in my retirement they have. My family and I struggle to survive on Social Security and two small pensions. Rising healthcare costs, insurance costs and food prices are making life difficult. I liked Ronald Reagan, but the current GOP have taken Reagan’s support of small government and gone to extremes. They no longer represent what Reagan stood for, and the sooner they are forced out of government, the better.

Older, wiser, poorer

Wall Street Journal + Ogilvy = Social Media Se...

Wall Street Journal + Ogilvy = Social Media Seminars (Photo credit: Ogilvy PR)

I was born a Republican and always voted that way until 2000. I believed what GOP politicians said and was skeptical of the Democrats. I trusted big business, and I religiously absorbed the editorial pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. That started changing with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and my journey through insurance hell in 2004 when I totaled my van and then fell and broke a leg. Some people do not survive insurance hell, but I came out changed and stronger for the experience. Insurance hell for those who have not experienced it is having two or more insurers who say that your claim is the other company’s responsibility.

I no longer trust Republican politicians or big business or the Wall Street Journal and I have never trusted Fox News. I don’t claim that the Democrats have all the truth and the Republicans none, but I think that the Democrats are much closer to the truth than the GOP. I am now older and wiser and poorer. I still consider myself a member of the GOP, perhaps a RINO, but I don’t care about labels. I support Barack Obama because the GOP have not offered any viable alternatives when the country so needs solutions to our myriad problems. I don’t expect the GOP to shape up anytime soon, so perhaps they’ll just have to ship out, to be replaced by a responsible party.

Meeting of minds

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, and Daniel Henninger wrote a weekly column entitled “Wonder Land.” His columns impressed me as mostly wrong, but written by a reasonable man. I started writing to him by email pointing out areas where I thought that he was in error. I stopped subscribing to the Journal when the street price hit $1.50 per copy and I don’t recall ever seeing Henninger on TV. Recently I saw him on FOX, and apparently he has learned little or nothing from my messages. I believe that demonstrates that we gain little from exchanging views with those who hold vastly differing views. I had hoped it would be otherwise, but we are all formed by our life experiences. When two very different life experiences come into contact, there is more heat than light.

Life and American history

Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del...

Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del Cielo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have about five years of college credits, but I only have an AA degree. However, I believe that my life experiences and study of American history are the equivalent of at least a master’s degree in both life and American history. I do not consider myself an expert in either subject, just well-educated. Let me recap my story as briefly as I can.

I was born in Oak Park, Illinois, across the street from Chicago. My family was conservative Republican and I was weaned on the world’s greatest newspaper (self-proclaimed), the Chicago Tribune. When I reached adulthood, I added the Wall Street Journal to my daily reading. I believed the editorial pages of both papers were gospel.  Over the years, I began to notice that the editorials never changed even though events did. That discrepancy caused me some unease, but I remained a conservative Republican.

In my late 50s in the late 1990s, I wondered if Ronald Reagan had been a great president. I was not willing to take anyone else’s word, and decided that I would make my own decision. I decided to research the answer by reading a biography of each and every president. I am about two-thirds of the way there, but I have already decided that Reagan was near-great, not great. There is a black hole in American presidential history filled with mostly one term presidents between Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt. The principal exception being Lincoln.

I did not limit myself to the biographies of presidents. I added the US Supreme Court to my reading list and prominent Senators and members of Congress. Over time I feel that I grew to have a more balanced perspective on US history, and my life experiences altered my strictly conservative views.

I have been poor and I have been relatively well-to-do. I have been subject to age discrimination, and I have gone through healthcare insurance hell. I have been in an auto accident where my vehicle was totaled by an uninsured semi driver. In my hospital career, I have dealt with gang members, billionaires, the homeless, people with AIDS and the uninsured. I like to think that I have seen it all, and I try to walk in another’s shoes before I judge them.

I am not always successful in not jumping to conclusions, but I am trying to do better. Rather than talking at each other, I believe that we should be trying to understand each other’s life experiences first. Then we can talk to each other with understanding. My life experiences have made me the person I am with the political views I possess. Someone else with a different life experience, will probably see the world differently. That does not make one of us right and the other person wrong.