Conservatives and the “Good Old Days” Cliche

whiskeyandthemorningafter“We need to get back to traditional values, traditional families, etc.”

You hear this over and over again from conservative politicians, like a stuck Alvin and the Chipmunks 45 RPM record. It’s amusing at first, but that broken record gets old really fast.

What are they actually talking about? For the older base, it’s meant to evoke nostalgia. Remember when a gallon of gas was only a quarter and a loaf of bread was a nickle? You’ve seen that meme a million times discussed on social media, and it’s popular. Wildly popular, because we all have that tendency to often look back to the past with rose-colored glasses. About a year ago, I made a meme of myself on “Whiskey and the Morning After” partially as a joke and also as a social media experiment. It went viral quickly, and I still see it on a regular basis, including on conservative sites who use it to play to that sense of a wonderful childhood and good old days gone by.



The whole “traditional values” cliche? It’s really just a dogwhistle to those who oppose marriage and racial equality.

Obviously, as a politician you can’t just come out and say “remember when those gays and blacks knew their place and we controlled women’s naughty bits?” Same thing with blaming the poor for the economy. You can’t usually get away with blatantly saying the poor are lazy and just want free stuff–that didn’t work out so well for Mitt Romney and his “47%” comment, did it?

Code words work, and they work well. Remember the Reagan-era “welfare queen” stereotype for those who collected welfare? That’s still going strong today to describe poor black women. “Putting God back in the White House,” that’s a code to the birther wing of the GOP who are convinced the President is not only from another country but he’s also a secret Muslim.



So… the next time one of your conservative friends or coworkers starts talking about “traditional” or “remember when,” ask them exactly what they mean. Are they reminiscing about cheap gas, the Red Scare and Norman Rockwell? Or is it more likely that they miss a white America, gays in the closet and women in the kitchen instead of the workplace? I know the GOP does.

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  • Dizcuzted

    Truth.

  • Miklosk

    I get those “good old days” emails at work. It was not too bad if you we’re a not broke white guy. Otherwise, being abused by your father, husband or the cops was always your fault. Being denied a house loan, job, hotel room or restaurant service because of skin color was thought ok.

  • Coco

    I agree and I’ve pointed this out before.

    Sure, we’ve lost some things with the passing of time- that always happens. But the fact remains that while Opie could walk into the soda shop in Mayberry and sit himself down for a malt, Opie’s black schoolmate most certainly could not.

    And besides, do I really want to go back to wearing coke-bottle-bottom glasses, when nowadays I can slip a tiny piece of saran wrap over my eyeballs instead?

    Yeah, we played outside till dark and caught lightening bugs back then, but you know what? My kids still do that.

    We choose the sweet memories and forget the ugly ones, but we really shouldn’t. When we do that, we end up with re-created history, a la the Tea Party and their ilk.

    • BRAVO!!

    • jabberwocky

      No one is saying the good old days were good for everyone. But remember most of us back then were white. That’s the only perspective we had.

  • Ash

    I saw a new bit of coding the other day: public schools were just made to “punish bad families” but “they get the good families, too.”

    AKA The goverment ‘steals’ my money through taxes to educate non-Christian and colored children.

    • thought i had gone crazy when I read that had to google and what I found was wanting… I worry when they twist the words so hard george orwell will come back from the grave and demand a re-edit..

  • They miss the days when they could beat their wives and children black and blue and not have to deal with law enforcement and the courts. They miss the days when black Americans, after having fought in American wars, had to ride in the back of the bus and not be allowed on a stool next to whitey at the luncheonette. They miss the days when Congresspersons could enjoy the benefits of insider trading, illegal for anyone else in America, so they could get rich. Oh…….wait…..they just voted to get that back this morning, didn’t they? Well, they miss the days when they could hire thugs and dirty cops to beat union organizers with clubs, bats, and pipes without fear of prosecution for assault and battery or attempted murder. Yeah, the good old days. What a nightmare these people are. They have no idea how consumed by hatred they are. Ironically, most of them consider themselves Christians. Christ would be aghast. And pissed.

    • If I was a black guy during the “good ol days”, America would have gotten my middle finger…

    • jabberwocky

      Cry me a river.

  • Not everybody that shares these things has an agenda, let alone a conservative republican one. I’m a bisexual native american woman and I still shared a similar thing to this, not because I want to hearken back to the 50’s, but because I miss the simplicity and joy of childhood during the summers just off one of the world’s most beautiful beaches (pensacola, florida). I miss that, not the 90’s (which is when I actually grew up). There are plenty of strong, valid points that can be made about all things conservative, but I don’t think that this is one of the things that needs fussing with.

    • jabberwocky

      Amanda, excellent post.

  • This article was woefully incomplete.

    • jabberwocky

      But it does fit the agenda.

  • Funny how they don’t mention polio, whooping cough, scarlet fever………..

  • jabberwocky

    You are funny. Yes there were indeed the good old days but that hardly influences views on gays or anything else. It just we didn’t have to contend with Gen X and Y which have caused all our problems and did away with good times.

  • Sean

    I too miss the good ol’ days. When our country ,even in times of recession, had millions of high wage manufacturing and support jobs,paying decent wages ,with pensions and benefits,all helping to make our real economystronger. Instead, we sacrificed that strength for higher corporate profits, which were promptly sheltered in offshore low tax havens which benefitted only the 1% and their foreign banker allies. A GOP wet dream come true. Tank the economy and start screaming ” Deficits Deficits” like a drug addled parrot.

  • Michael Siever

    They miss the good old days when it was okay to be a bigoted, racist asshole and not be frowned upon for it, but I bet you my left testicle they sure as shit don’t miss the good old days when the wealthiest Americans had to pay 92% in income taxes to accommodate most other Americans’ lifestyles of only needing single incomes for their families to thrive…

  • Schuyler Thorpe

    There’s always a simple solution to these regressives’ problems: Build a fucking time machine and go live in the past!

    Oh, but wait! That would require that these backwards Neanderthals to embrace the concept of science, relativity, and technology…

    That can’t be possible. They only believe in the One World View of Christianity and their selfish version of God…