Monday, March 19, 2012

"I don't see how young Americans can vote for..."

"...a Democrat."- Mitt Romney.

He should have said "Anyone."

Politician after politician has peppered us with pledges to protect the future for their children and grandchildren, but in reality, they've done quite the opposite. Today, millions of young Americans--from those who will graduate from law and medical school to those who will graduate from kindergarten--are faced with one of the most uncertain and unstable futures a generation has ever known.

Regardless of your political stripe, it's hard to look down the road and see anything but a full plate for the millennials. Recurring severe weather, shortages of water, an increasingly militant developing world, nuclear proliferation, infrastructure on its last legs, a dumbfounding national debt, an unsustainable welfare system, and hyperpartisan political factions are just some of the treasures we'll be forced to dig up in the next 25 to 50 years. And taking the baby boomer approach of kicking the can down the road just isn't an option for us. All roads end somewhere.

Somewhere between the greatest generation and my generation, something went incredibly wrong. Perhaps it was the liberal's impossible promise of government assistance for all or the Republican's own opiate of the masses--tax cuts. More than likely it's both. Each side has offered its own brand of political nicotine, and the addiction has overtaken all Americans. Despite the fact they can't have both (or, realistically 100% of either), the baby boomers found a way to get their fix: credit and debt. Look where that got us.

America and the American Dream weren't built on "speed, speed, speed, spend, spend, spend;" it wasn't built on cut throat competition or government handouts. They were built on saving, on moderation, and a Protestant value system that, whether we personally choose to embrace its religious aspects or not, was the basis for the settlement and construction of America. They were built on a common brotherhood (and sisterhood) that you can't help but notice is absent walking the streets of DC for even a few minutes.

I place some of the blame on the evolution of societies, globalization, and the like--but it sure would be nice to hear the generation whose complete failure to lead for anyone but themselves stand up and apologize, to offer solutions to fix the problem they've slung our way. This isn't an attack on individual people or individual policies, nor is it an attack on a specific party. It's an attack on the choice to embrace each person's naivete and the darker sides of self-interest, an attack on the attempt to placate groups in order to assume and maintain power, rather than to do something with that power.

Quite frankly, America is in need of rehab. Unfortunately no policy or ideology is going to solve this. It's going to take long, painful look in the mirror, a conscious realization that there is a problem of attitude. So 'scuse me for being a little cynical, Mr. Romney, but until you look at yourself in that big ol' mirror and admit that it's not just the Democrats but your Republican kin as well who are mortgaging the future for a pretentious present, why exactly should I vote for you?

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