- Sunday, 26 August 2012 09:52
- Written by Mark Kreslins
In light of our recast of last week’s promoting on State Based Solutions, I thought I'd liven up this week with a question: "Is our generation the worst generation?"
Allow me to illuminate."Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods." - H.L. Mencken
And this election is no different, we're auctioning off our children's and grandchildren's future so we can keep the illusion of consequence-free living going as long as we possibly can. As we advance towards another fanciful November kabuki theater of deception (the election and the looming debt ceiling pretend “debate), there's another drama unfolding behind the scenes. History, that great leveler of truth, is unveiling who the real actors are on stage of this great deception. History will eventually reveal who are the real culprits, the real "all hat but no cattle" actors. And just as history has accomplished over generations, with often 20/20 clarity, so will it do so with this generation.
We've often heard the WWII generation referred to as “The Greatest Generation.” Tom Brokaw wrote a book under this title, a book worth reading by the way. And we've come to recognize the “Greatest Generation” for a few general attributes:
Last night, I watched one of my favorite movies with my 16 year-old daughter, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I was struck how the writers and director attempted to portray the 1930’s in real terms. Racism was rampant still in the hearts of man. Life was simpler. Most neighbors knew AND cared for one another, except for “Boo” of course. Doing right regardless of consequences (Atticus) was viewed positively and seemingly the norm of the thinking person. Those given to ridiculous notions of bigotry were cast in a dim light as they should be. But in general, even though Mr. Robinson was indeed falsely accused, tried and convicted, the possibility of things turning out okay for him hung throughout the movie, until the Sheriff Tate brought Atticus the news neither he, nor the movie viewers want to hear. I won’t spoil it for you, but I think you get my drift. While not perfect, the best of the Greatest Generation were being portrayed as people of their word, sacrifice, frugality, tough, resilient, selfless, and self-reliant.
What characteristics define our generation? Let’s compare:
1. Sacrifice – our voting patterns don’t suggest we are interested in this. We vote for people who suggest the impossible. “Vote for me and I’ll do the impossible.”
2. Frugality – Hardly. Both parties are have run up a $16 trillion debt and $150 trillion in unfunded liabilities and most seem okay with that. Most certainly do not want to consider any real solutions, no they seem to be okay with "repeal and replace" gibberish. Or my favorite slice of rhetorical baloney..."we'll reform it if you vote for our candidates!"
3. Tough – Not very. We talk tough, but vote for people who keep the illusion going.
4. Resilient – We’ll see when we arrive at the so-called “fiscal cliff.” My sense is people have a greater desire to ignore it than to fix it.
5. Selfless – Doesn’t seem that way to me with people voting to shoulder future generations with more and more debt.
6. Self-reliant – Not very, otherwise, why do we vote for politicians who overtly assert they’re not going to really do anything. A.K.A., Paul Ryan’s budget. Should people really be excited about only being $26 trillion on debt in 10 years verses $29 trillion?
7. I want to add a 7th characteristic to this current generation – anti-intellectual and anti-history. Most people know far more about their favorite sports team, favorite “American Idol” or favorite DC’ver than they do about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, unalienable rights, the rule of law, consent of the governed, self-governance etc. This is simply a fact.
And I want to spend a little time on this #7.
Sure, every four years, we go through the same thing over and over and over…like a well-oiled machine. The two party system cranks out another round of conscience relieving phrases like:
1. “This time we’ll hold them accountable.” Really? How exactly are people going to hold an elected official “accountable?” At best, if you’re trying to hold a Member of the House of Representatives “accountable,” there will be at least 2 years when they’re free to do as they please. And the reality is, most Members of the House know they can do as they please for about 18 months of their 2 year term and then the last 6 months, start the deception all over again. And as usual, the anti-intellectual/anti-history electorate falls for it. Almost every time. So, that’s the newest phrase I’ve been hearing related to this election; "yeah, this time we’ll really hold them accountable!”
2. Then there’s the tried and true “I support the Constitution” crowd. You know, the ones who call into talk radio and boldly state “I support the Constitution” and will only vote for a candidate who does so as well. Then, Candidate “A,” sensing he needs to win over Constituent “A,” begins saying at campaign rallies: “And I support the Constitution!” Constituent “A” hears those words, begins to swoon, open their checkbooks, and put a bumper sticker on their vehicle with candidate “A’s” name…why? Because they both “support” a Constitution they know little to nothing about. And the anti-intellectual/anti-history crowd marches on. Why not, at least the supposed “pro-constitution” crowd feels a little better about themselves. And isn’t feeling better about this better than facing the truth. Facing the truth might actually push us closer to needing to act like the Greatest Generation. But we don’t want that. Nope, go ahead and add more debt to my children and grandchildren…we want our 5000 sq. ft. FHA backed homes (read future taxpayers backed mortgages), 2nd homes, 2-week vacations, new cars, social security, Medicare (for when we “retire” of course), FDA regulated food and drugs, etc. The list can go on and on. And we don’t care how they’re paid for, just as long as we’re not being asked to sacrifice for our children’s and grandchildren’s future.
So, the real villains in this drama is not the politicians. No, that’s too easy. The real villains in this drama are We the People. Yep, they’re the real culprits. Politicians, conservative and progressive, are merely mirrors of the People of each ideology. Unfortunately, and in my view, one ideology is a little guiltier than the other.
Progressives, if they’ve been anything, they’ve consistently advocated for a HUGE government role in the daily lives of people. They like government, mostly for nefarious reasons, but they’re clear about their desire for a more centralized and powerful government. Fair enough, at least their honesty can be applauded.
Now “conservatives” on the other hand will shoulder the greatest condemnation from history, why? Because they have opened themselves to charges of hypocrisy and duplicity. For there simply is no moral reasoning that puts party over principles. Yet this happens election cycle after election cycle as Rome burns. How do I know this? I used to do the same thing as all my fellow conservatives did. And look at the result…so do we have Constitutional authority? Absolutely not.
In fact, we only have a Constitution as an artifact enclosed in an airtight container located at the National Archives in Washington DC. Everything else about the Constitution is a figment of imagination. An illusion of sorts and conservatives seem comfortable with that.
Sure, they boast of a great allegiance to the Constitution but then defend the abusers of it, the politicians they put in office to defend it with trite like:
“But at least Candidate A will slow down the ship a little so we can buy time to put in real reform!”
“Mark, you have to admit that having a candidate who supports ‘founding principles’ is better than having one that doesn't!” This is a more recent one I've heard. At least they're honest enough to admit they can’t use the word Constitution because none (save a couple) actually support the Constitution. So, this phrase takes care of that. It’s no longer a candidate needing to support the Constitution, now they simply need to support “founding principles” whatever the heck they are, and conservatives are okay with that.
There are many more, but suffice it to say, they’re all anti-intellectual and anti-history.
I really wish conservatives would just be as honest as our progressive brethren and admit what they really want.
Big government…just their kind of big government.
Conservatives really should stop saying they support the Constitution and "limited government" when they vote election cycle after election cycle exactly the opposite. Thus opening themselves to charges of hypocrisy and duplicity. I'm just calling balls and strikes here folks.
They simply cannot make an honest case that they’re pro Constitutional government and then vote for people who will violate the Constitution almost immediately upon lowering their hands after swearing an oath to do so.
Nope, unless conservatives become a little more like Atticus Finch, the fraud of “limited government” will continue and Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” will do the work conservatives refuse to do.
And when history completes if damning conclusion of this generation, it’s unlikely this generation will be named The Greatest Generation II, but instead, The Worst Generation. I along with many others are doing our best to stop this from happening. I’m not very hopeful though!