Tepid Millennials or will you vote?

As we thrust our way into this presidential season, I find I’m wondering more about the shape and spirit of those who can truly have effect on the electoral process next November.

The generation that came before mine was forced to confront a great evil about which there was no doubt. Failure might have meant the end of civilization as they knew it. In the end, they won chiefly because they could out-produce anyone and everyone else. Although imperfectly so, they mostly knew what it was that they were fighting for. I am a beneficiary of their struggle, born before the Big Bomb was dropped.

Then that generation before mine proceeded to screw things up pretty well. They were shell shocked. They societally suffered from PTSD. Despite really courageous efforts at reconstruction, they screwed up the concepts of personal responsibilities within this democratic republic. And we became a nation of the fearful. We had so much and could make so much without a continual need to blow it all up, we Americans simply didn’t know what to do, other than be afraid. And for many, that’s gotten worse.

Remember crawling beneath your desk at elementary school, practicing for when the Big Bomb fell on us?

No? Oh, you don’t remember? Oh. Well, that figures. My generation really screwed things up and continues to do so. We’ve stopped teaching history in the schools pretty much. One high school text I know of devoted three whole paragraphs to the Vietnam War.




Well, and why not? That war was fought by conscripts. Compared to the wars we fight today, they don’t count. After all, real patriots volunteer, don’t they?

After the Vietnam War was over, my generation decided pretty much that we wouldn’t fight wars that way ever again. The draft was imperfect because it didn’t do what it was supposed to do…not really. It didn’t draft everyone and those who had some sort of connection got deferred. I’ll admit right here and now I was one of those who got deferred. (I worked hard for that deferment and when it came in, I didn’t take it and volunteered anyway. But that’s another story for another time.)

So now we don’t have a draft and less than one percent of our population really knows anything about our military, our soldiers and what they actually do. It’s really easy to send our troops into harm’s way when they are faceless. It’s really easy to pronounce them “heroes” when you don’t know them, don’t see the stumps of arms blown off or hear the ramblings of minds distorted forever by explosive concussion or endless terror. So long as they’re someone else’s son, brother, father, wife, it’s ok to do war with them. So ninety-nine percent or so get a free pass. (But the Millennials need to know that those faceless “heroes” doing your proxy warring are spending billions and billions of dollars blowing up stuff that probably doesn’t need blowing up, and you’re going to pay for it all, eventually.)

Here we are on the eve of another presidential election and now, truly yet a new generation of voters can direct which way we are apt to go for the next four years simply by voting. I am wondering what kinds of thoughts this new generation has. My generation screwed things up pretty good, and the generation that came after mine made a feeble minded attempt at changing things for the better by electing a president who meant well but had a near complete misunderstanding of anything much larger than a small neighborhood in Chicago.

Ok, Millennials: now it’s your turn. Here’s the deal. Here’s what you get to vote about.

1. This nation has been at war with ghosts, goblins and make-believe enemies for almost your whole life. These wars have ruined many other peoples’ lives, cost billions of dollars we simply do not have, and taken a great big bite out of the quality of life and structure inside this country. War is wasteful. Faux war is foolish wastefulness. How do you vote? Continue or do something else?

2. The candidate field is grim:

- Two are arguing for a sea change in the American scheme of governance: One wants this country to go contrary to the Constitution and become some sort of religio-fascist state. The other just wants to make it a fascist state, period. Neither knows what the Constitution says.

-One claims to be a socialist who wants to restore the so-called, “middle class” and break up great big businesses. At least he’s honest about it.

-One wants to be elected on the basis of gender and in reality promises more corruption and dedication to the destruction of the middle class.

So, okay, Millennials. These are your choices and the shape of this nation over the next four years is largely in your hands. You might be able to correct a lot of mistakes made before you were born and certainly before you could vote. Now: your turn. Perhaps you’re hot for it.

IF you vote.

The generation before me saved the nation from a horrible destruction. My generation began to really screw things up and the generation after mine was largely apathetic. The Millenials have not really had to do anything yet. Now’s the chance.

Being an American is a hard, dirty, sometimes messy contact sport. It’s hot, heavy work. I wonder if the Millennials will be willing to get their hands dirty, their pristine, electronically coated, Twitter-vested shirts soiled with some real, messy contact, direct with other people.

Or is this new generation, the Millennials just a population of arms-length tepids?

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