At the moment, I’m reading “Before the Storm – Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus,” my first foray into the life of Barry Goldwater. The closest I ever game to the legend himself was seeing the back of his head as he spoke to a classroom of journalism students when I was at Arizona State (he and Walter Cronkite, for whom the school is named, were near-annual visitors.)
For all the humor that now seems to be associated with our fair state, courtesy of our governor and sheriff here in Maricopa County, Arizona at one time spawned several political heavyweights – Goldwater, Rhodes, Carl Hayden (who held his Senate seat for 42 years), McCain, Babbitt. Consider, Arizona’s second Senate seat has been held by only five men over the course of 100 years – Marcus Smith, Ralph Cameron, Hayden, Goldwater (who held the “other” seat for six years before running for president in 1964) and now McCain.
Now, before I start losing my way on various tangential paths, I want to make clear the point of this post isn’t political but rather the lessons history teaches us. Think back only a handful of months, before Romney secured the GOP nomination, when the constant discussions were whether he was too moderate to be supported by the GOP’s conservative base. With me so far? Good …
“Now, radical Democrats, who rightfully fear that the American people will reject their extreme program in November, are watching this convention with eager hope that some split may occur in our party. I am telling them now that no such split will take place. …
… Republicans have not been losing elections because of more Democrat votes – now get this – we have been losing elections because conservatives often fail to vote. …
… We don’t gain anything when you get mad at a candidate because you don’t agree with his every philosophy. We don’t gain anything when you disagree with the platform and then do not go out and work and vote for your party. I know what you say, ‘I will get even with that fellow. I will show this party something.’ But what are you doing when you stay at home? You are helping the opposition party elect candidates …”
Any of that sound vaguely familiar, perhaps like something that easily could be heard during the current news cycle? Yet those words were spoken 52 years ago by Barry Goldwater at the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Though there was no Tea Party movement at the time, the last paragraph sounds rather like their warnings if the “wrong” candidate is elected.
And that, friends, is what the point of this post truly is … as I have said many, many times in many, many places, there is absolutely nothing new under the sun. It’s a remarkable conceit on our part to assume the notion that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it somehow does not apply to us, whether it’s because of our so-called enlightenment, the aid of technology or whatever else you want to throw in here.
And that’s just as true for real estate.
There’s a notion that the absurdity of lending in 2005 will never happen again. Okay, sure, fine. If you say so. Everyone assumed the Phoenix area was bubble proof the second time around, but there are the slightest signs that the rapid appreciation of the past six months could fade a little bit if sales don’t keep pace with the slowly rising inventory. There’s an underlying feeling among the online real estate set that the business is entirely different than it was even 10 years ago, even though today on Facebook someone was talking about going on broker caravans – a whole bunch of agents piling into a car with their donuts and coffee to look at homes for sale.
The reality is, nothing here is new. The methodology may change but the ends remain mostly the same. Whatever scenario you come up with, I virtually can assure you that is has echoes in the past.
You don’t need to be a self-described history freak to see this (though it doesn’t hurt.) Simply open your mind to the possibility that we, these small creatures inhabiting imaginary borders of one or two countries on this tiny speck of dust in the universe, may not be as unique and/or special as we so often believe.