Millennials have gotten a lot of bashing lately. There's the snowflake stuff from the Right and the letting Hillary go under by voting for third party candidates or not voting at all. Because she was less than ideal. I’m pissed too but it wasn’t a surprise. They’re clueless. I don’t mean millennials so much as people of college and post-college age from every era. Including my own generation. And myself at that age.
At best, idealism is a positive bias set; a useful template for launching exploration. At worst, it's a theology that precludes a reality-based, informed and creative vision of a world view. But to be an effective political citizen – any citizen – our biases have to be left at the door when out in the world. Or else our activism, even if it’s limited to voting, is rooted in a utopian vision where there’s no room for a less than ideal leader. So Ralph Nader voters helped deliver us to W and now to Trump. Were they a major factor? Who knows but a minor factor was enough to matter in both cases.
Generally, political thinking at that age is self-righteously certain in its idealism. But idealism, like youth, is a critter that hasn’t been tested at length in the real world. No blame there. Because if anything has occurred at length, it, by definition, doesn’t apply to being young. Even instruction and homework in history, sociology and psychology requires the chisel of experience and sustained observation to give it a functional shape. But lots and lots and lots of movement passion gets stoked on youth fumes.
How is that different from middle-aged Trump supporters who are self-righteously certain in their own dreamy vision? There’s an observational knowledge base but it’s been marinated in cynicism and delusional propaganda in the guise of “fair and balanced”, not-anything-else news. I’m referring to the Hannitys, Limbaughs, Alex Jones’, Ann Coulters. That's lots and lots and lots of energy stoked on rage and resentment to ignite political activism; not so much for a utopia as against an imagined dystopia. Same thing, sort of. Idealism/burnished cynicism; Utopia/Dystopia; youth/youth-long-gone.
Over the past few decades hysterical right wing propaganda has become institutionalized. Newt Gingrich made it a norm for conservative politicians. Propagandists like Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh succeeded in branding journalism-based reportage as the enemy of freedom. So there’s no filter on the steady input of fact-free, reductive notions that over time create a dystopian worldview that feels mighty factful if you’re living in what feels like a dystopia.
America’s post-WW 2 last-nation-standing position of absolute global dominance created an era of abundance that was as intoxicating and theology-breeding as it was short-lived. It could only last untill Europe and the Far East would rebuild and other parts of the world could start to move up. That kind of period of dominance is pretty rare and requires a world that’s been vaporized except for a single nation. But for anybody with any trace of that era in their memory or in their attic (and white skin) – that’s when America was great. As the rest of the world got back up to speed, Americans experienced it as a slow-down and that slow-down has made high-paying jobs ship out to the catcher-uppers. The loss of those jobs has brought on a descent into despair. Gotta be the fault of some alien species.
Right-wing media’s resentment delivery system is an opiate: spoonful of frustration, boil into rage directed at the usual suspects – the dark-skinned, immigrants, liberals, kikes, residents of the coastal metropolis. Inject. Share the spike. Drift into a rage-filled wooze that renders people intellectually and emotionally rigid, increasingly unhealthy, unemployable and living in collapsing communities with air, water and soil polluted by the industries that left them behind and with few resources to offer any way out.
Then in struts a sociopathic savior who knows all their cultural memes, brings out the spoonful. Boils. Passes the spike. Then flings promises and lies while showing none of the subtle social give-away cues that expose blatant liars in the act. The gift of the pathological liar.
In the political world, noise gets heard and responded to. Comfort mixed with concern for the torment of others stirs up a righteous sense of mission with the calm required for fact-finding and analysis. But not so much the noise. Trump was metal band. Hillary was melatonin.
Youth will ripen. Pretty fast in this generation. Their passion for social justice is a ray of light for the future. But I sense a future of collapse and explosion in the rust belt and rural interior before it’ll be desperate enough to remember what light looks like and recognize it.
Meanwhile they’ll answer the call of hysteria about gays, sharia law, job-stealing Mexicans and socialist tyranny into the voting booth to fill state and federal government with corporate-owned politicians who seal the decline of the middle class into the law books.
— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, November 17, 2016
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