Question from a reader: Can you divide the history of America's last half-century into a few periods? Here's a crack at it, and I'll be glad to have folks say whether the following makes sense.
The domestic cultural demoralization of the 1960s really began in 1963 with the Kennedy assassination and continued through the Nixon impeachment in 1974, with theological liberalism becoming dominant. That led to the 1975-1980 period of American international surrender: It began with the refusal to ship arms to the South Vietnamese and continued through the Iranian hostage crisis.
The third period in recent U.S. history is one we could date-designate as the Surging '80s. It began on January 20, 1981, when Ronald Reagan became president and Iran released the 52 Americans it had held captive for 444 days. It swelled as a reinvigorated United States pressed the Soviet empire so hard that Reagan's Berlin call to "Tear down that wall" became reality in 1989.
During the fourth period, from 1990 through Sept. 10, 2001, the United States had a peace dividend that we invested poorly. Russia was ripe for transformation, but our half-hearted attempts to foster democracy there were unsuccessful. Bill Clinton's weak response to terrorism encouraged the perpetrators, and by the end of the 1990s he was preoccupied with attempts to save his presidency from his own irresponsibility.
The fifth period began when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. It may be coming to an end this year as European economies fall and the United States again sags economically. We've had 11 years of war and recession: Both small when compared to the disaster of the 1930s and 1940s, but terrible for its victims and confidence-sapping for the survivors.
This November's election is likely to begin a sixth period, as voters decide whether to continue in the socialistic direction of the past three-and-a-half years or to retain a mixed economy with nudges toward free enterprise. The stakes are high, with our consolation being: No matter who wins, God is still in charge.