I'm old enough to remember the 1970s. A time when Japanese cars were still seen as cheap and tinny; and the very idea of importing Chinese goods was absurd. When middle-class American moms bought their kids clothes at Sears. I didn't have a lot of first-hand experience of racism - but I was aware that it was a big deal when my dad's company first hired a black man as a senior executive. And when I page through my family snapshots; and look back at the TV shows and movies; the newspapers and mailorder catalogs from those days, I'm struck by one inescapable thought: Things really weren't better back then. Our cars were crappier. Very few houses and automobiles had airconditioning. Houses were smaller; even middle-class kids shared bedrooms. We wore clothes made out of itchy polyester. There were four or five TV channels to choose from, and they stopped broadcasting around mindnight. Nobody ever dreamed of taking a telephone on a camping trip or a theme park. If you wanted to find out some obscure fact, you looked in an encyclopedia. A diagnosis or cancer, or a heart attack, were almost certain death sentences. For pretty much every demographic, every race, things are almost immeasurably better today than they were forty years ago. So why then, are the politics we ascribe to so terribly divisive? Why is so much political dialog not just disagreements over policy - but instead the characterization of the other sides as evil incarnate? Why are people so terribly unhappy? And so anxious to return to a past that was, viewed objectively, really not that good at all.