Archive for December, 2008

‘Auld Lang Syne:’ Bush’s farewell eight years too late

December 30, 2008

By David Farside

The year has finally ended. Most of us are grateful we have survived the last year of President George Bush’s infamous political legacy. Many of us are anxious to start rebuilding our lives in the coming year and all of us are ready to drink that cup of kindness for “Auld Lang Syne.”

It’s strange how the words and music of “Auld Lang Syne” can remind us of memories from the past. It’s really a folk song written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. It literally means “long, long ago” or “days gone by.” No wonder I get nostalgic when I hear it. The Scottish began singing it at midnight on their eve of Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve. As the English and Scots emigrated to other countries, they brought the song and tradition with them.

Speaking of nostalgic, every New Year’s Eve I listen to my old, worn-out tape of Guy Lombardo playing “Auld Lang Syne.” Lombardo was a Canadian band leader. He played at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from 1929 to 1959 and continued to entertain at the Waldorf Astoria until 1976. Every New Year’s Eve he was on national radio or television playing “Auld Lang Syne” as the ball dropped on Times Square at the magical stroke of midnight.

Instead of making resolutions on New Year’s Eve, I think about my childhood and reflect on the good years, hard times and lessons learned from my father. I remember our family’s New Year’s Eve tradition.

New Year’s Eve was a night when we gave our wish list for the new year to dad. He would indirectly give us his state of the household speech. If the times were bad, he said very little. If they were good, he would check our list and then talk about our family future until midnight.

I remember one year in the early 1940s when he hardly spoke at all. We all presented our wish list to my father and waited around the kitchen table to hear what we could expect for the next year. Dad sat at the kitchen table, looked over our list of next year’s dreams and appeared to be almost crying. He told us he would “have to look over the list later.” He said he was just laid off and didn’t have a job. Being children, we thought he could just go out and get another one. But that didn’t happen.

He blamed the war with Germany and Japan, food shortages and rationing, poor wages and politics for our lean times. People were losing money in the stock market, no one could afford to buy a house or pay the rent and owning a car was out of the question. You couldn’t get gas or tires even on the black market.

He called the war defending Europe against Hitler one of the most important and admirable political decisions in our history. It prevented a dictator from eventually gaining control of Europe and possibly forming an alliance with the Communist dictators of Russia.

But Dad was the total optimist. He still placed all his trust in President Roosevelt. Knowing things would be better, he believed Roosevelt represented the faith, hard work, integrity and pride of every American.

He believed everything Roosevelt told the American people during his fireside chats was true. Roosevelt was open and honest. He preached faith in the human spirit, hope for mankind and confidence for the future of America. Because of Roosevelt, my father knew we would win the war and better years were ahead. And he was right.

Looking back on my days of childhood, I wonder what the working class of my father’s generation would think about the America of today. The unprovoked, senseless war in Iraq. The opulence of a pseudo-middle-class society where the working-class needs two new cars, lives in a 4,000-square-foot house, buys their kids $500 toys and has a debt they can never pay off.

I wonder what they would think of the integrity, honesty, openness, truthfulness and IQ of Bush, who is the complete opposite of Roosevelt.

Under Bush’s eight years of what he calls “fun,” we have relived the hard times of the early ‘40s. Workers are being laid off and, except for the auto workers, auto mechanics and doctors’ wages are not keeping up with personal debt. Very few can afford a new car and even if they could, there’s no money left in banks to finance them. And, like the ‘40s, people are being evicted from their homes.

I don’t need to make a wish list this year; the Democrats will take care of that. For starters, the Democrats will renew the faith, pride and integrity we once had as Americans and will end the butchering in Iraq.

They will develop a fair health care system for the working poor. They will use the example of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and put the economy back in the hands of the working class, using the history of the Works Progress Administration as an example. And they will make it easier for unions and organized labor to negotiate fair wages for the American worker.

This New Year’s Eve, we should all celebrate the end of Bush’s eight-year destruction of America. We should all sing “Auld Lang Syne” and drink that “cup of kindness” in memory of the prosperity we enjoyed in days gone by before Bush was elected in what seems oh, so long ago … even though it’s eight years too late.