For my entire life, I’ve always been told how unique and different my year of birth was for our country. I was born in 1968. My parents told me the difficulties the U.S. faced in 1968, and their worries on what the future would hold for their second son, who was their third and last child.
Throughout the historical writings of U.S. history, it’s well known that the U.S. in 1968 would forever be remembered as a turbulent, unique and violent year. Where its citizens would openly wonder, “What in the world is this country coming to?”
For many people 2020 was the “worst year” in the history of our great nation. Where a pandemic hit and where the juggernaut that is the U.S. economy came to a standstill. Where millions of people lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands of its citizens, both directly and indirectly were affected by the virus. Where lockdowns of freedoms and liberties became a way of life. The phrase commonly heard was “the likes of which has NEVER been witnessed in U.S. history”. Of course, 1968 hears people reference 2020 as being the “worst” in history and says “Really? . . . hold my beer”.
The narrative of 2020 being the “worst” year in history, simply doesn’t support the facts. Sure, it sells newspapers and click-throughs, and makes for interesting copy, but it doesn’t hold a candle to 1968. Just some highlights of that fateful year of 1968:
- A plague enveloped the United States, as a new influenza virus infected millions. The “Hong Kong Flu” or H3N2 killed some 100,000 people in our country, whose population barely exceeded 200 million. (Yup, it turns out that the pandemic of 2020 was nothing that we haven’t experienced before).
- We saw a Presidential election cycle that tore the country apart, in which one of the leading Presidential nominees was tragically murdered while millions of people watched it happen from their homes.
- When the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces coordinated a series of attacks they dubbed the “Tet offensive” which took the U.S. and its allies by complete surprise. For the first time the horrors of the Vietnam war, were broadcast for Americans to see. While the U.S. was able to beat back the attack, the iconic Walter Cronkite now proclaimed that America was “mired in a stalemate” to which President Lyndon Johnson was reported to have said” If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America”
- In March of that year, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression burst into flame. Dollars left the country in droves, as consumers frantically moved their money overseas, because of their lack of confidence in the greenback. Foreigners, quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Inflation would begin to rage, and wouldn’t cease for another decade
- America, considered a world economic superpower (since the end of WWII) was openly questioned on the world stage as being “lost” and no longer able to carry the weight of the world.
- During a cool evening in April, on a Memphis motel balcony, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s flame of hope and unity was extinguished in his murder. America had lost its soul.
- Democrats convened in Chicago to nominate Vice President Hubert Humphrey to run against Rickard Nixon. Thousands of students and antiwar activists and other demonstrators poured into the city where they were met with a violent police response that continued night after night. Everything was captured live on television to the horror of millions of American viewers.
- Richard Nixon, and Spiro Agnew were elected President and Vice President of the United States by a razor thin popular vote margin (sound familiar, doesn’t it?), at the end of a bitterly divided and highly partisan race. They both would later be forced to resign in utter disgrace. Nixon from the Watergate scandal, and Agnew when he pled nolo contrendere to one count of felony tax evasion. America would become a laughing stock on the world stage.
- The year culminated with the equity markets finally going down awash in flames. The S&P 500 topped out at 108.4 and went down 36% over the following 18 months (fast forward to today where S&P 500 sits at 3,967)
My larger point in this diatribe is that while 2020 certainly was one of the most challenging years of recent memory, it simply doesn’t hold a candle to 1968.
Look how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. In the past 50 years, we’ve seen worldwide poverty drop from more than 50% to less than 10%. We’ve seen the U.S. real per capita GDP more than double, and where inflation-adjusted GDP per person rose 135%. The S&P 500 index has risen some 40 times, propelled by an increase in earnings of 30 times, which has obliterated the rise in the Consumer Price Index over that same timeframe. The middle class today has more cash in hand, than at any other time in modern history.
Yet the narrative keeps getting shoved down our throats that we are at the “worst” time in our history. Unfortunately, history doesn’t care about your narrative. The facts can’t be erased from history, despite the woke’s best efforts to do so.
I think you’ll find that in 2020, just as in 1968, that the apocalypse de jour has been once again indefinitely postponed.
Stay focused my friends!