A good friend engaged me about this via email this week. I think it’s just about beyond question that our national political structures are utterly, fundamentally broken at the macro level. A broad survey leaves little to the imagination: special interests, Big Whatever…in too many ways our politicians are not our own and are accountable first to their fundraisers and donors. There are exceptions. There are micro-level organizations of integrity, there are good candidates and great public servants. But the system itself exists for itself in perpetuity. Don’t believe me? Try running for Super Congress.
Are our politics broken beyond repair, or can they be fixed according to the rules they’re governed by now?
How anxious are you? If you’re between 18 and 100, are tech-savvy and engaged, your answer should be very. If you’re between 30 and, say, 45 (the Upper Cusack Limit), you might also consider the total refusal of anyone to move a sane agenda forward as an unprecedented opportunity to lead.
Babyboomers, heel-graspers that they’ve been, have been uncannily quiet in all of this at the national level. Sure, they’ve been the public face of so much chicanery since the Clinton Administration, but they’re not seizing any real opportunities to create something new or leave us with much. Barack Obama, young Boomer that he is, out to be the virile head of some great movement. Alas, there is nothing. If I’m being fair, and I do want to be fair, Obama has lead on a few key policy issues, but the wither, blister, burn, and peel of support from the progressive base is not news. It happened for reasons.
We, the USA Network demographic, don’t trust national Republicans or Democrats. We love the idea of hope and change and progressive causes but we don’t believe in attendant hype or machines. We like the idea of populist movements but have seen them be hijacked by agendas that couldn’t be further from our ideals.
We are displeased. What to do? (If you’re picturing Billy Zane as an evil tycoon who doesn’t give a shit, good. We’re being taunted, everyday, by people who will never want for anything, people we’ve put in power, many of whom are apathetic at best toward our well-being or future.)
One impulse is to turn local, and I believe that localism, rightly channeled in all of its healthy forms, will go a long way toward changing our communities in radically sustainable ways. But that won’t happen without you, Generation X. You who are parents, you who are holding down jobs, paying bills, paying taxes, you great middle class getting screwed. I’m asking you to do more. I know, I know. The good news is that in places like Allentown, PA, and, I imagine, its analogs everywhere, there are indeed many Boomers doing great things and looking for help. Your vested interest is your children’s future. Determined as you are to make damned sure the world they inherit is better than the shit-storm left you, you don’t really have much of a choice. If you’re not already, please get connected. Please make a difference. Please build communities.
But we haven’t forgotten about you, Great National Mess. You are Das Nichtige, the unchosen nothing, the aggregate mass of political sin, of omission, of shirking, of all that is wrong with our government, our economy, our budget, our laws. You are our misplaced priorities. Your time is over, we cannot sustain you, but your enablers have said that you’re too big to fail, too big to move.
But you’re not. We know your coordinates. You thrive at the intersection of political parties and the military industrial complex. George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower, two Citizen-Generals, warned us of you, but we were too busy moving west, killing Indians, too busy moving west, building suburbs, to listen. We’re listening now. We won’t support your national campaigns or your friends in Big Anything. We don’t want Monsanto or Super Congress. We don’t want your labels, your symbols, your platforms. We want clean water, clean air, and safe food. We want safety nets and renewable energy. Sustainability is our ideology, our children are our constituents, and our political leaders will answer to us.
And who will they be if not us?