Candidates for the Republican nomination to unseat 2nd District U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in 2024 have begun to emerge from the woods.

One of them is state Rep. Mike Soboleski of Phillips. I’ve never heard of him before, but he seems like a fairly average Republican lawmaker. (That said, he was the one who, last time he ran, received thousands of dollars in support from Larry Lockman, perhaps best known as the former state representative who once said, “If a woman has [the right to an abortion], why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?”)

It was the opening line of a Soboleski campaign ad, however, that grabbed my attention. In it, Soboleski says: “I want the America that I grew up in. That’s what I want.”

And that, right there, perfectly sums up so much of current conservative politics.

No matter how many conservative politicians get elected, no matter how badly the Mike Soboleskis of the world want it, the world simply won’t turn backward. The toothpaste won’t go back into the tube. Cultural, economic and technological change is a given, and they are certainly beyond the scope of a single politician. Any politician who claims they can make things “the way they used to be” is lying. They are promising something that nobody can make happen.

Furthermore, it’s a good thing that the America of the 1960s that Soboleski grew up in and wants back is gone, because it was a pretty crappy deal for everyone who wasn’t a white man.


The candidate is 67 years old, which means he would have been born around 1956. In that America, women couldn’t access birth control of their own accord. It wasn’t until 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut, that the Supreme Court ruled for the right of married couples to access contraception.

My grandmother’s doctor wouldn’t prescribe her birth control until after she was married, and by the time she got back from the honeymoon, she was pregnant. (And to add insult to injury, her college tried to kick her out, because why would a married mother need a college degree?) Abortion was by and large illegal in America until the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. (RIP, Roe v. Wade, 1973-2022.) In 1960, the maternal mortality rate for American women – that is, women who died because of complications from pregnancy and childbirth – was 37.1 per 100,000. In 2019, it was 20.1. (It spiked to 32.9 in 2021.) That’s a policy position the Republican Party platform would be all too happy to return to.

Personally, as a woman entering prime childbearing years and for whom any pregnancy will be medically high risk, I’d prefer not to go backward.

The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, when Rep. Soboleski would have been in the first grade. Would people like him prefer to return to the time when discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin was legal?

Speaking of national origin, when he was in second grade, or thereabouts, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed. Previously, immigration to America was based on a series of rigid racial (and racist) quotas. While I’m sure many conservatives would prefer to return to the days of their childhood, when they never had to see a non-white person or hear a foreign accent, that’s not something that can be mandated by the government. Even if you shut down all immigration to America, we still have the internet now. You’re going to get exposed to different cultures.

Is the suggestion that we return to the America where my grandmother couldn’t get a credit card on her own, without a husband as a co-signer, until she was 34? (Thanks to the 1974 Equal Credit and Opportunity Act.) Or perhaps we return to the America without no-fault divorce, which meant my grandmother would have had to prove wrongdoing in a court of law in order to leave her lousy second marriage. (The first no-fault divorce law in America was passed in California in 1969.)

I understand disliking and fearing change. “Difficulty coping with change” is, in fact, one of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder, and it’s one that I meet. Personally, I would love the return of the world I was a child in; I didn’t have to pay any bills, and my dad was still alive. But nostalgia isn’t a good basis for public policy.

Even Cher couldn’t turn back time, and she’s a certified triple threat. There’s a difference between standing athwart history yelling “stop” and standing athwart history having a tantrum. You can’t bring back the America you grew up in. But you can try to make it a better place going forward.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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