Youth-Oriented Politics: How’s That Working Out?

By | October 15, 2015 | 0 Comments


obama class
School children sing hymn to Obama

Do you recall the election of 2008? Do you recall the appeal to youth, including children far too young to vote? Do you recall the children taught to sing hymns to Obama, including children in school? Do you recall a teenage boys’ youth group marching for Obama, reminiscent of youth groups in totalitarian nations?
And do you recall these revealing news reports?

Website urges children to influence their parents to vote for Obama.

Young Obama backers “twist parents’ arms” to vote for him.

Panelists on “The View” tell Obama he is “very sexy,” but ask McCain serious questions. Nevertheless, the panel and audience clearly prefer Obama.

On the “Late Show,” Dave Letterman repeatedly makes “jokes” about McCain being old and senile, as if the two were synonymous.

What do these events tell us about the state of our politics specifically, and the state of our civilization in general? What do they reveal about how the youth culture has invaded politics? Are we choosing a president or a media star? Can we still tell the difference?
When I was growing up, my parents often talked to me about politics and other serious matters. They were interested in what I had to say about world events. But their interest was in guiding me to think clearly, not in altering their own opinions to suit mine. That would not have occurred to them.
By the time I could talk intelligently, my parents each had over 40 years of experience. My father was a physician, my mother a teacher. They had friends with widely varied life histories, some of which I heard over dinner.
I recall a man who had been a revolutionary in Russia. He cursed the communists, saying, “They stole our revolution!” After that, I could listen to the leftist notions of my professors, and realize that they had their heads in the clouds − or somewhere else a lot less light and airy.
As we watched TV news and saw Stalin reviewing the troops in Moscow’s Mayday parade, my father leaned over and said in a mock-conspiratorial voice, “Look at that sweet, kind face.” I was immunized against the leftist ideas I would encounter later in life.
My parents exposed me to my religion, but not to indoctrinate me − they were far from being dogmatic. They knew that a mind and a spirit need a firm foundation on which to build. They couldn’t control what I would build in future years, but they could see that I had a good foundation.
We can only wish that the parents of “Taliban” John Walker Lindh and “Al Qaeda” Adam Gadahn had done the same for them. Instead, their parents left them to “find their own path.” Their parents left them with an intellectual and spiritual vacuum that they filled with whatever toxic material they happened to encounter. Their parents left them with an emptiness that ruined their lives, and the lives of others.
True, most kids who are left to “find their own path” don’t join terrorist groups. But some do. Many more join gangs or cults. And still others fall prey to whatever they happen to see on the Internet or TV, or hear from loony teachers or professors. The danger of letting kids “find their own path” is that it may lead them over a cliff.
The danger of imitating our children is that we may succeed too well.

● We walk through the mall and see 40-year-old “boys” with baseball caps on backward, obscene tee shirts, and baggy shorts.

● We see 40-year-old “girls” with see-through blouses, tattoos, and navel rings.

● We watch movies made for middle-school kids − and apparently made by them.

● We watch TV and see inane sitcoms, unreal “reality” shows, “Dancing With the (Young) Stars,” and “American Idol” − a title that is painfully accurate.

● We watch TV and see entertainment reports, detailing the empty, useless lives of spoiled, narcissistic, drugged-out “personalities” as they are arrested for drunk driving and enter rehab for the third time.

● We watch commercials selling the latest wrinkle remover, plastic-surgery procedure, or exercise machine guaranteed to give “six-pack abs and a tight butt.”

● We watch the news and see the childish, self-indulgent behavior of some politicians.

But what don’t we see? We don’t see TV stars or newscasters (especially women) who are middle aged, much less elderly. We don’t see even the weather or sports reported by anyone who isn’t young, beautiful, or handsome. Though we may not be aware of it, we don’t see TV shows written by anyone over 50, or perhaps over 40. We don’t see that older writers may have to get young people to submit their work for them.
Good medical care and nutrition are increasing our life spans, and the number of elderly people is growing. But at the same time, the infantilized movies and TV we watch are making older people seem increasingly irrelevant, even repulsive.
This country existed since 1776, yet until a few years ago, we felt no need for euthanasia. Why did many people approve the slow starvation and dehydration of Terri Schiavo? Those who wanted to kill her claimed she was unaware, so she couldn’t have been suffering. Her family wanted to care for her. So what was the need to get rid of her?
Many people were tired of seeing her on TV. To them, the severely disabled or elderly are disgusting. To those without a religious foundation, life and health are all there is. So loss of health, and even loss of youth and beauty, are too awful to think about. Terri Schiavo was killed for one reason − we didn’t want to look at her, so we declared her to be nonhuman. How “tolerant” and “inclusive” is that?
In 2008, our youth culture reached the point that we voted for the candidate our children preferred. And who, exactly, was that?

● The most experienced?

● The most capable?

● The one with the most mature judgment?

● The one who actually does something rather than merely talks about it?

● The one who actually does good rather than merely looks good?

● The one who points out plusses and minuses of a policy, rather than merely pushing it like a sleazy used-car salesman?

● The one who talks to us as adults, rather than as rather dull middle-school students who must be spoon-fed what we “ought” to be told?

● The one best able to handle a crisis?

Are you joking? Wisdom comes with experience, if it comes at all. Our children will induce us to choose the one who looks the youngest. And surprise! The youngest, best-looking candidate is likely, as in Obama’s case, also to be the most left-leaning. What a coincidence!
To Democrats who condemn supporters of Donald Trump for backing an entertainer, I say this: Who taught us to go for entertainment value rather than real value? Who taught us to select those who look good rather than those who do good? Who taught us to prefer those who grab our attention rather than those who make us think deeply? You did.
The leading opponents of Hillary Clinton (age 67) for the Democratic nomination are Bernie Sanders (age 74) and Joe Biden (age 72). Republicans are slightly less gerontologic. The leading opponents of Donald Trump (age 69) are Ben Carson (age 64) and Carly Fiorina (age 61). Further behind are Jeb Bush (age 62), Mike Huckabee (age 60), Ted Cruz (age 44), and Marco Rubio (also age 44, though he looks younger). It is too soon to tell, but thus far, the older candidates seem to be ahead.
Perhaps the era of youth-dominated politics is ending. In general, this would be good news. Nevertheless, we should not over-react and reject well-qualified candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio simply because they are relatively young. The key is to look for actual qualifications, rather than age or other superficial characteristics.
Perhaps, because of our experience with Obama, “young” no longer is synonymous with “good,” and “change” no longer is synonymous with “improvement.” Do you think, just possibly, that it’s time for us to start acting like adults?

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