“Never trust anyone over forty.” That’s the slogan me and friends had back in college. Now that I am over forty, I’m finding myself questioning if the young people now ready to continue pushing this society into the 21st century are up to the task. I’ve met a young man who thought Come Together was written by Aerosmith. I’ve met a young man who questions the evidence that Man ever reached the moon in a Lunar Excursion Module. I’ve met a young woman who didn’t understand what woman’s suffrage means and didn’t really care. Admittedly, these may be exceptions. There are many organizations that each claim to be an authority on whether or not US kids are smarter than the rest of the world. I did a few searches to try to find one link to reference right here, but there’s too many and they disagree. We have no consensus. Are America’s young people smart? Depends on what you consider to be wisdom. Young Earth Creationists may know a lot about creationism but not that much about evolution, and what they do know is tainted by what they believe. So whether or not you could call them smart depends on whether or not you believe creationism is smart; subjective perception of reality once again at work.
I noticed the other day that at about the same time Paul Ryan and Anne Romney were at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida trying to convince us Mitt was human, Barack Obama was speaking near a college in Charlottesville, Virginia. Paul Ryan was talking about making hard choices. Barack Obama was talking about change. This is where I was gonna say Barack Obama hasn’t really made that many changes, but I just did a search on the Web and found out I’m wrong. Well, kinda.
Guantanamo Bay for example. Barack Obama did sign an order in 2009 to close the Gitmo facility. He talked about not having to compromise between our safety and our ideals. However, despite the fact he signed a piece of paper to close it, it’s still open, and last i checked, there were still close to two hundred people detained there. We have laws about fair and speedy trials for people, but that’s for American citizens on American soil. So long as we keep non-american citizens in Cuba, we don’t have to treat them with respect and dignity..? This is a sad chapter in our history as a country supposedly representing human rights for all, but despite an appearance of trying, in this situation and some others, Obama’s tenure as Commander In Chief and Leader of the Free World has been pretty much politics as usual.
This is not to say I believe things would have been exactly the same if John McCain were in office. They would have been different. In some ways better perhaps, but in a lot of ways things would have been worse. In this one example, I don’t know if McCain would have efforted to keep Gitmo open. He was once a prisoner of war himself. Perhaps he would have felt compassion, but had to juggle that with a desire to protect the citizenry of the US from terrorists openly threatening to harm us on our own soil. He probably would have also tried, but failed, to close Gitmo.
I don’t want to go down the bullet list of things Obama tried to change. Those who favor Obama would give me a list of changes that make him look good. Those who hate him would give me a list of changes that make him look bad. If I tried to cite examples here, your opinion of my assessment would be marred by your opinion on the topic, and I really should get around to making my point.
One thing the speakers at the RNC have in common with Barack Obama during his speeches is that they usually make these speeches in front of crowds that will hoot and holler and carry on in a good natured way no matter what these guys say. This is cuz “handlers” in both parties go out of their way to tailor these venues so that they put the politicians in the best possible light. This is only to be expected cuz you wouldn’t want Barack Obama telling his side of the story to a group of people who would refuse to hear it. The upshot of this though reveals a bit about the available audience for these two sides. On the Romney/Ryan side you have mostly old white men. Now in the front rows you’ll see some younger people, and some women, by there’s not a lot of asians or hispanics or blacks in sea of faces, and if you see women, the “handlers” would try to seat them so that they’re closer to the front so you’ll notice them. Where they think you’re not looking, there’s a lot of old white men. This is what conservative republican thinking attracts.
Liberal democrat thinking attracts the students of a college but not necessarily the faculty or the dean or the board of trustees or whatever. Older white people mostly. Obama wanted to speak on a college campus in Virginia but was told no. The excuse was the people running the college felt Obama’s presence would interfere with students studying. It’s the second day of the semester. They’re still studying their room number in the new dorm. The truth is, people with money running the school didn’t want to go out of their way to help a guy they don’t want to see re-elected.
Four years ago, Obama was drawing crowds like he was the reincarnation of Christ. Today it’s more like he’s the Fifth Beatle. Four years ago he was talking about change we can believe in, and four years later he’s still trying to sell that message and tout the good that he’s done, which is to his credit. However, we’re more jaded now and less gullible. The idea of a black president was novel and gave a hint of daring do. Here’s a guy who’s gonna go into the White House and shake things up a bit. Unfortunately, what we have witnessed is a man who, like every president before him, has at one point or another had to go to the congress and then go out of his way to avoid not looking like Oliver Twist asking “please sir may i have some more gruel?” That’s not a black thing. It’s not a white thing. The congress controls the purse strings of America. Every president has had to kiss their ass from time to time, and Obama’s just not good at kissing their ass.
We were promised change, and we got politics as usual. Turns out a black president has to play the game just like any other kind of president. In that way we have come full circle and everyone’s now equal. The problem isn’t that old white men were all we’d ever had as president. The problem is that’s mostly what we got running everything. So when you replace the occasional old white man with a younger gentleman with a slightly different cultural perspective on reality, you don’t really see as much change as you might wish to see.
Republicans tend to cater to people who don’t like change. This is perhaps because they have something to protect. Property. Monies. Corporate interests. Swiss bank accounts. Whatever. Investments of some kind. If you don’t have something that sends you a nice tidy check every quarter, you can’t afford to be conservative. If you do, you can’t really afford not to be conservative. However, while Republicans claim to want less taxation and less legislation, and they want to be more conservative financially, things differ greatly when they start talking about gay marriage or marijuana usage or a woman’s right to choose what happens inside her vagina. Then they want all kinds of legislation controlling the behavior of others.
Democrats tend to cater more to the idea that not everyone can afford to pay for life, liberty, and happiness. So those who can should foot the bill. This is attractive to younger people. It’s attractive to older people too, if they’ve ever been hard on their luck, and needed a helping hand to get back on their feet. You are perhaps more inclined to reach out and save someone else from drowning if you’ve ever experienced it yourself. Drowning is very scary. I know from personal experience. However, it’s also important if you’re gonna try to be someone who saves people from drowning, to get a little better at swimming yourself first. In terms of economics, that would mean learning how to wisely spend what little you have so that some day it’s more than a little. This is not a lesson easily learned by many.
It’s also not a lesson that is particularly beneficial for everyone to learn, from the perspective of people who made that money taking advantage of others who aren’t good at it. Educating everyone on fiscal prudence and proper investments would make it more difficult for a businessman that benefits from stupid mistakes others make in the stock market or other things. Shorting funds for example, works cuz stupid people do stupid things and some people make money counting on that.
Obama has made some changes. Osama Bin Laden was alive when Obama started. He’s dead now. Though gay marriage is still being disputed, gays in the military has moved beyond ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ into whatever the hell they’re calling it now. It’s a step. However, I’m hard pressed to imagine that these things wouldn’t have happened anyway under McCain or someone else. The republican party IS pushing our entire nation into the right with every chance it gets. This forces democrats like Obama to drag their heels a bit to the right as well. This is like if baseball teams were allowed to pick up the bases and run around with them, and the opposing team had to put up with wherever the bases ended up being put, even if it’s in the outfield or up in the stands. After awhile the baseball field becomes unrecognizable as a diamond. So yet another change is that we as a nation are still more conservative than we were four years go, and more conservative than we should be.
We don’t need someone who’s going to change things just for change sake, and we don’t need anymore old white men telling us what to do. I don’t know what we do need, but whatever it is, we’re not going to get it from either the democrats or republicans cuz it’s not in their best interests to give America what it needs. At least, not unless the people with lots of money that god these two guys in the ring in the first place, say it’s in their best interests.
The only constant in the universe is change. America is going to get more change anyway, whether it’s Obama or Romney that wins this November. With that said, change is not always a good thing.