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Friday, June 11, 2004

Well, I'm at work even if non-essential government employees get the day off due to Reagan's death. We talked last night, at length, about the hagiography of Reagan since he died. It seems as though most of my friends are completely baffled by it, as if the entire country seems to have Altzheimer's all of a sudden. I wondered, as we talked, if this were one of those times when our Genexism feels more pronounced. I think of Reagan and remember high school parties where rich girls talked about how Reagan was making their fathers rich, and all the homeless people suddenly on the streets in Phili and New York, and listening, rapt, to the Contra trials on the radio and feeling my first real surges of political outrage. I'm not sure to what extent that political outrage just grew out of the political context of my family, or how much they were mine. I know my parents are devout liberals and, without even asking them, I know they were staunchly opposed to Reagan and Bush. But I don't remember to what extent they talked about politics and influenced my beliefs, only that I can even remember not liking Nixon as a little kid. But the summer of Iran Contra was when I first became politicized as, I guess, an individual. I met some guy on the subway, who was probably the age I am now, and he started talking to me about Iran Contra and the suffering of people in Nicaragua and somehow I ended up selling raffle tickets for his organization (I guess I'm lucky he wasn't a cult leader). At any rate, I felt like, talking last night with Dave, Dan, Emily, Chris et. that our generation is sort of alienated, in some inherent way, from the idea of inherently respecting a president, or anyone, solely based on the position of authority they hold. I can't really imagine gnashing my teeth about Reagan's death, it's just beyond my yen. Now if Jimmy Carter died, we all said, we'd really be sad, but not because he was president, but because of the good he did on the humanitarian front. It may be that politics really doesn't have the power to change the way people feel about their country, about themselves, about the world in the way that social action or popular culture does. Although political decisions surely can make people rally, but usually against more than for anything. I just find this entire stoppage of everything for Reagan almost surreal. We're in the middle of this intense election cycle, with the future of the country hanging in the balance, with unbelievable atrocities happening in the Middle East, with the situation in Iraq, and suddenly it comes to a screeching halt for these odd '80s emotional reconstruction. I'm not an unfeeling person. I cried when Kurt Cobain died for God's sakes, but Reagan, as far as I can recall, didn't do anything for me except help to define, negatively, what I believe. I don't wish anyone suffering, but I don't have a shred of feeling about his death.