This issue has far less to do with the age of legislators and Facebook pundits and more to do with the death of liberalism and the marginalization of left-thinking in America. Why aren’t young Americans taking to the streets as we face world-threatening problems? What has killed criticism of the status quo in this country?Several things, all leading to the loss of the idea of common purpose and the destruction of the notion of the commonwealth.
1) Ironically, the abolition of the draft. Because we hated it and feared it the draft united the young in the Vietnam era. Why? Because it constituted a real and present threat to our very lives. Now, for the most part, our insane foreign policy is executed and our senseless, murderous wars are fought not by children of the middle class but by the offspring of the underclass. How many members of Congress and how many corporate CEO’s have a kid or grandkid in active duty in the Mideast, for example?
2) The rise of a so-called service economy and the destruction of our manufacturing base—and with that the decline of union membership from 36% to maybe 6% of the workforce. The very idea of solidarity has been smashed.
3) The systematic dismantling of the modest reforms of the Roosevelt administration and the malicious destruction of any safety net for the poor, the sick, the old, in the name of “privatization”, by an increasingly corporate-controlled Congress. The notion of massive public works programs, which might raise the self-respect of the now unemployed, revive a sense of common purpose, pump money back into the economy, and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, are anathema.
4) The perversion and dumbing-down of the news media. Radio and TV news have long since abdicated any serious role as watchdog over business and government, and with the decline of the big newspapers, true in-depth investigative reporting has likewise pretty much gone the way of the dodo. It’s all about spin now and not about substance.
5) The abdication of universities as bastions of liberal thinking and public protest.
The list goes on… It ain’t the kids, folks. It’s the moral bankruptcy of a grotesquely deformed system. The only value anything has—politics included—is its entertainment value. As consumerism reaches its apotheosis “liberalism” becomes a badge of shame and criticism of the status quo a form of treason. What remains to ignite action? Strangely the communications revolution and the rise of “social media” seem to have turned us more inward than outward. At least the Romans offered bread and circuses. We’re pretty much down to circuses here, or soon will be.