Democrats & Liberals Archives

Childhood's End

For those of you looking to find a truly political rant or discussion, I’m sorry to disappoint you — I am not writing this as a Democrat but as a disillusioned American who is watching another one of his childhood dreams fade further and further into oblivion. This morning, as I watched the video clips of China’s first manned rocket lifting off, I felt that the final nail in the coffin of America’s once-glorious space endeavors was finally driven home. While I was excited for the Chinese and their achievements, I lamented for the United States. Of course, I can’t blame the current state of affairs on any one politician — Lord knows that the Democrats and Republicans alike have each had a (heavy) hand in killing off many of the “next generation” of spacecraft that have been promised to us! Remember the National Aerospace Plane, or “Orient Express”? What about Werner von Braun’s dreams of gigantic rotating space stations (who can forget the “futuristic” scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey)?

I know that there are more "grand" issues facing our country and our politicians like the War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs, a stagnant economy, increasing state deficits (PDF file), and a murder rate that outstrips all other First World nations — but the exploration of space offers up the hope that we can transcend all of our other social issues and look forward to a wonderful future. Sure, we've got guys like Dennis Tito, Paul Allen, and Burt Rutan working on conquering space from the private sector end of things but it is nice to be able to latch our collective dreams onto something like a Saturn V and watch them soar into space together, as one nation — cutting across political and social boundaries to unite us together.

So, if any candidates are reading this, I'm asking you what your vision is for us? As you look to the polls and surveys and statistics to steer your campaigns, I'd like to ask you this question as an individual: Are we to stagnate and watch as China, India, Japan, and others move ahead making ever greater leaps into the great unknown while we are left with only memories of glories past? I'm not saying we should ignore everything else to remain in space but I would rather race other nations to be the first on Mars than waste hundreds of billions of dollars subjugating people in a way that fosters international terrorism. Sure, there are bound to be some setbacks like Columbia and Challenger but I'd rather be a nation of Starbucks and Apollos than one of Winston Smiths and John Savages.

Posted by huxley75 at October 15, 2003 3:15 PM