It's been a mantra and a siren call since January 20, 2009.
But, "Back to what"? as I have been asking nearly every week since then.
I think I may have finally stumbled across the answer, via the "Old Time Radio Superman Podcast", of all things.
I've been listening to this podcast for many years, and the host has slowly been plowing through all the classic episodes, in order. We've gone through the entirety of WWII, and now the shows are from the immediate post-war era; this week's broadcast episode from October of 1947.
Some of the stories are quite good, but it's the ads and the editorial commentary that I often find more fascinating. This week, the kids were learning how to play "photo swap", the exciting game you played with your friends using the free prizes found in boxes of Kellogg's "Pep" cereal. (The major sponsor)
But this week, they mentioned almost in passing, something called "The Freedom Train". Apparently, after our victory, the government felt it necessary to remind everyone why we fought, and many historical artifacts out of the Smithsonian were packed onto a train and sent around the country so grade-schoolers could have a look.
Somewhere in between Superman beating up a corrupt politician, something clicked.
Take America back to what? Try on September 3, 1945.
This was the day after Japan surrendered to the Allies. Think about it -
America was the world's only superpower; we had nukes! Our economy was invincible; anything we wanted or needed, we could build in an instant. Women were briefly empowered in the workforce and military, but only out of sheer necessity. There was about to be a mass exodus back to the kitchen, and back to staying barefoot and pregnant on the cusp of the baby boom. And things like racial equality, equal rights for all, and literally thousands of things we take for granted were not even thought of. Minorities were expected to return from war and take their subservient roles back in a post-war society. And of course, everyone in power was a Christian, white male.
Things changed rapidly, of course....but that one moment, when we won the war, and everything was poised to revert back to "the way it was" on December 6, 1941....I think it's more that moment, that perception, and that imagined utopia that's become that "back" we're going to be taken to.