America was a far simpler place then. Telling the bad guys from the good guys wasn't hard. The president and a few trusted men could mobilize the nation and get things done. There weren't a lot of hoops to jump through.
Today, conversely, we've very nearly strapped ourselves into a straightjacket as liberals trumpet the rights of minority groups over the majority and seek to ensure rights for the very enemies who would kill us, our bureaucrats serve themselves instead of their constituents, lobbyists continue to legally bribe lawmakers, and the overwhelmingly Christian majority of Americans are told by our government and left-wingers that "in God we trust" and The Ten Commandments violate separation of church and state.
And people wonder what's wrong with our government.
Just yesterday, it seems, I was rushed for time and my '64 Chevy flooded. So I took the air cleaner off the carburetor and stuck a stick down the throat to hold the flange open, fired up the 327 and made it to school on time.
But today, should our fuel-injected computer-on-wheels fail to crank, I'll spend my day getting a tow to the service department, waiting to get worked in for a diagnostic check, and praying that the bill won't equate to the Federal Government's Wall Street bailout package.
And people wonder what's wrong with our car industry.
Just yesterday, it seems, a substitute teacher conducted my biology class. I laughed out loud at a friend's joke, upsetting the sub, and ended up in the principal's office. My visit lasted only long enough for me to hold the seat of his arm chair while he made several points with a well-worn paddle on my fat fanny. I returned to class where, from all accounts, I behaved in exemplary fashion.
Today, without question, the Earth would stop revolving on its axis if a public school principal paddled an unruly kid. And if the principal and the kid were not of the same race, the Wall Street bailout would pale in the face of the subsequent law suit.
And people wonder what's wrong with our schools.
Just yesterday, it seems, there were no credit cards. Folks bought houses in neighborhoods with other folks in their same social strata and drove cars priced for their income levels.
But in the late 1990s the federal government sought to endow people from all walks of life with credit, a mansion in a gated community and an upscale vehicle - all of which brought about sub-prime lending.
And people wonder what's wrong with our banking industry.
These problems have solutions. Some are politically incorrect, but seeking political correctness is what got us into this mess in the first place.
We can fix the Federal Government by listening to Thomas Jefferson. Our every vote on every issue should be guided by his time-tested, right-minded principle: "That government is best which governs least."
The car industry can fix itself. Henry Ford went bust seven times before he got it right. Our car folks aren't stupid. Get the Feds out of the way and let Detroit figure it out.
We can fix our schools. Two words: local control. Get the Federal Government out of local education. Until the law is changed, as long as local property owners have to foot the bill, they and they alone should tell the board of education how to shape their home-owned schools.
We can fix the banking industry by getting the federal government out of it. All it takes is a return to small town banking, with local businessmen looking each other in the eye and shaking hands to seal the deal. Our bankers aren't stupid. Neither are the folks who apply for loans. They'll work it out.
America was built on Judeo-Christian principles by predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant settlers. Over time, their values became accepted simply as American values. For edification, those values are pretty much listed in The Ten Commandments. And though contemporary American society is now comprised of a multiplicity of races, creeds, colors, ethnicities and religious beliefs, fixing America's problems requires a return to the bedrock principles upon which the United States was built.
We can all help fix America, as the only special qualification needed to engage in the effort is to love your country enough to try. Fixing America doesn't require you to be white, Anglo-Saxon or Protestant. You need not be a practicing Jew or a born-again Christian. And you need not belong to a political party - in fact, it'd probably be a lot easier if everyone was an independent.
But fixing America does require sacrifice from everyone. We must adhere to the historic principles which made this country great - whether as individuals we like them or not - and we must do what's right for the country - even when it means our individual political viewpoint is wrong.
Nat Harwell is a resident of Newton County. His column appears in The Covington News on Sundays.