Err, this’ll be an awkward post…and also something of a long one, I think. Remember my long-time words of warning: I don’t plan or outline these posts, they are purely organic, from brain-to-keyboard with only one read-through for editing & revision.
Oh, crap…if I have to explain myself before I so much as get to the theme and intro, I have to wonder just how badly I’ve taken leave of my senses…
Okay, so…well…I took leave of my sense a long time ago. I took leave of my senses when I walked away from a good six-figure job in search of a life that was actually fulfilling and worthwhile to me, rather than one that was about collecting a (good) paycheck and making other people happy.
Ahem, never mind. Let’s keep that particular closet door closed, shall we?
First off, a reminder that I sit pretty much outside the generally accepted “teams” in American politics. I think both sides idiotic, and that both exist and work only to benefit the few at the top by exploiting and abusing those at the bottom.
But, in addition to being a writer, I’m also a historian and something of a political junkie. The first part of my day is reading…reading a shit-ton about politics and news, both here in the US and elsewhere in the world. The important thing, for me, is that I read a bit of everything. I will spend time with a piece from The National Review, then immediately follow that with something from The Nation.
I make it a point to take in material and ideas from all points of view. I don’t have to agree with what I’m reading, but how in the hell could I ever expect someone else to read and weigh any new & different ideas I may express if I’m not willing to do the same? Ideas and opinions are not communicable diseases, no one’s character or beliefs will be “infected” by reading things with which they don’t agree…
Whew…okay…that’s done. Shit, 330+ words of set-up, and only now am I ready to get started on what I actually sat down to write — is 8:00am too early for scotch?
I read an opinion piece this morning that got me to thinking. It got me to thinking about the differences in today’s politics. Not the differences between the teams, but the differences within them. Now, look…my politics and beliefs are pretty damned different from what I grew up with, and from anyone else in my immediate family. But I’ll be damned if I’ve ever had the energy to sit down and write about the hows and whys of those differences.
Now, maybe it’s because I’ve been completely immersed in the “world” and outlook of younger folks for the last couple of years (given the trilogy of stories I’m writing), but I’m incredibly conscious of the differences between generations at the moment. And, no, I’m not talking about the bullshit judgmentalism of those who attack and blame other generations: “Millennials are all lazy and entitled brats” or “Baby Boomers are evil fucks clinging too long to money and life” or “Gen Xers are hypocritical asswagons making everything worse”. No, I’m talking about the very real differences in outlook and beliefs, the very real differences that create not just different dynamics, but entirely different ways of looking at the universe, that are all-but mutually incomprehensible between generations. And it’s not just politics, it’s social and cultural and economic, as well.
The simple fact of the matter is that those differences are just getting worse; my parents live in a totally different world from their children. And my generation? We’re not quite that disassociated, but we’re close — far too many of my generation are following our parents into a world of blinders and knee-jerk beliefs/responses that are already old and “out of date”.
And the worst part? Far too few people even bother to notice the disconnects, let alone worry about what they presage for the future. That socio-political conflict I see coming in the next couple of decades? Yeah, it’s gonna be generational, too.
Okay, so what got me thinking about all of this? This particular opinion piece: “How Conservatives Can Win Back Young Americans.” Now, look, I know it’s the Weekly Standard…I know that, if you’re not of a very specific political group (a small group, at that), that magazine might as well be Serial Killers Weekly, but remember what I said above: ideas and opinions won’t kill you.
Hell, personally, I think Noam Chomsky is (politically & economically) a raving lunatic. But he is also one of the smartest men on the planet…and, yes, I read the hell out of him as part of my Linguistics degree.
I posted the link above because I think the piece is a worthwhile read. For folks of the conservative political stripe — yes, Mom & Dad, I’m talking to you! — it’s worth it for the political advice. For folks like me, who are not on either team, and even for folks on the liberal/progressive side of the field, it is worth reading for what are, in fact, pretty good insights into some of the generational differences at play in the US today.
We cannot bridge gaps, let alone solve problems, if we aren’t able to understand the them…and the perhaps the biggest gap today, and the fastest growing problem, is the vast, yawning chasm between the younger generations and the older.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to write a coherent post about politics while blasting a Stevie Ray Vaughn live album? I really want to be outside at a concert somewhere, right about now…
Okay, so it has nothing really to do with this post, other than illustrating one aspect of the Democrat-Republican divide, but I still think the chart below is hilarious (given just where I do all my writing):