Things weren't exactly idyllic when the New Year's ball in Times Square dropped 1980 into our laps. Economic times were tough then, too. The Jimmy Carter administration seemed as adrift as the Obama one does now. Also as now, the GOP 30 years ago was largely incoherent in its prescriptions for a better America.
Then two things happened in 1980. First -- and more significantly than it first appeared -- the U.S. Olympic hockey team shocked the mighty (and communist) Soviets. Suddenly, it was cool to chant "U.S.A.'" and wave our flag again.
Second, and far more significantly, a man whom even most Republicans at first did not support fought past his party's establishment and became its leader. With less than a month to go in the 1980 presidential election, most of the nation realized they were weary of President Jimmy Carter's "national malaise" mindset, his cardigan sweater as he scolded Americans to turn down their thermostats to save energy, and his weak hand in getting outmaneuvered by the Soviets, the Iranians and others. So the people rose up and changed the course of our nation by electing Ronald Reagan.
Of course, those who know history realize that Reagan didn't bolt out of the starting gate and into wild success. It wasn't until well into his first term that he started to genuinely capture the nation's heart. But even before Reagan gave us that first glimpse of America as a "shining city on a hill," one could feel that somehow the 1980s were going to be different.
I believe that will ultimately prove true of this decade. And to kick it off right, I'm going to be more positive in what I write about and in how I approach my own life, and also in the sentiments and opinions I share with you, the reader.
My New Year's wish for each of you is for optimism, prosperity, liberty and a renewed pride in our American spirit. We can only wait for that next great leader to return us to that shining city. In the meantime, we can all start preparing for it with a spirit of renewal and accomplishment. I pledge to do my part.