Make America Great Again!! Let’s go back to the Good old Days!!! These are currently the “marching orders” that Trump is trying to give to the Republican Party as the slogans for this Presidential election. The acceptance of these slogans by the working class in great numbers is a portrait of the extreme ignorance of the history of their country that these people have . O.K. folks. LET’S SEE WHAT YOU WISH TO RETURN TO! Let’s go back to 1870s to early 1920s. That’s period is known as the “Gilded Age” and indeed it was ‘gilded”‘ if you had the gold and were a member of the Upper Class. I don’t see many of those people at Trump’s rallies. I see a lot of working people struggling to make a living, in debt up to the hilt, not trusting the well educated and too ill-educated themselves to separate Trump’s lies from the truth. The perfect audience for a demagogue.
There are things we need to remember about the “Good Old Days.” I’ll close with some pictures of life during the years between 1870s and 1920s:
- Are you prepared to give up Social Security and Medicare? Going back will mean that most of you will either have to be taken care of by your families or you will end your days in a “county poor farm.”
- Don’t get sick as antibiotics have not yet been discovered.
- The scourge of a crippling or fatal polio epidemic is always present, especially in the summers. There will not be a polio vaccine until the 1960s. Flu shots are unknown also. Only measles can be inoculated against.
- Most of you will work from dawn to dark around dangerous machinery as the Industrial Age really kicks in. There is no 40 hour work week; it will be 70-80 hours. No days off; no paid vacation.
- If you are injured on the job, you will be fired. There is no workers’ compensation. You will be given what you are owed in wages up to the point of injury and sent home. Disability, a part of Social Security, is not law yet.
- There is no OSHA so working conditions are bad—See Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for an example of the working conditions in the meat packing industry during this time.
- When you go to town, the best roads will only be gravel. After heavy rains most country roads will be quagmires and you will have to go on horseback. You’ll have to use them as most of you will still live in rural areas—only 10% in cities and the rest of the population on farms.
- Many of you, if you are lucky, will get an 8th grade education, a smaller number will go to high school and a very small number of the elite will go to college.
- You will be chopping wood for your heating stoves in the winter. There are no air conditioners, so it will be miserable to try to sleep on hot summer nights after those 12-14 plus hour days you will be working.
- Take a vacation? Are you kidding? Have to be home as farmers (which most of you are) must be there to feed the livestock, milk the 15-20 cows, and turn the separator to separate the cream from milk—all by hand—remember, no electricity. No days off for farmers.
- Need to go to the bathroom at night—use a “slop jar” in your room to be emptied in the morning. During the day, it is a trip to the “outhouse.” When it’s hot, you will have to fend off the flies and wasps, as well as the smell. When it is cold, you will have to contend with a frozen “behind.” Neither is pleasant.
- For much of your time during these years, draft horses will be the chief source of power for your farm implements such as mowers, grain binders, cultivators, plows & drills. Horses usually work in twos—teams were often composed of a mare and a gelding—so your first task in the morning is to put on their harnesses (as well as feed and otherwise keep them ready to do their work).
- If you were of age to go to school in the Fall to Spring, and your parents could spare you on the farm, you went to a Grade 1-8 country school. There were no school buses—you walked. Very seldom did you get a ride. Quite often your teacher would be a young woman just out of high school who had taken “Normal Training” in high school so she could teach. When she got married she would not be able to teach in most school districts. Those who allowed teachers to be married would cancel the contract with the first sign of pregnancy. The teachers who are married have no access to birth control except the “rhythm method’ or abstinence.
Are you still wanting to “Advance to the Rear” and go back to the “good old days”?