Who’s driving this thing, anyway?
If you live in Florida or Texas, or maybe even some other mismanaged state like any number in Europe or South America these days, this is a pertinent question, and becoming more so by the hour. These aren’t bumper sticker issues, either, as more than 200 million people have now been infected by this plague. No, these are matters of life and death…yet it’s kind of odd how little seriousness is attached to the whole Covid-denial thing. At least…in Red states here in America (which we can conveniently define as states ruled by authoritarian Trump-style wannabe dictators, whether they be found in Texas, Florida, or even Brazil) where this remains the case.
This is an interesting subject, but not one I want to focus on today – though, as we’ll see, it is an interesting, and interrelated, sub-topic.
No, what’s on the menu today is something far more distasteful, at least it is to me personally. And that would be the failure of an entire generation to live up to the ideas that inspired us most. That generation – my generation – is most often referred to as the Boomer generation, as in the post-WWII generation. Here in the US a generation was originally defined by TJ, aka Thomas Jefferson, when he theorized that the federal government should not entertain any debts that could not be paid off within a generation, which for practical purposes he stated would be 18 years, and that is the sort of official designation to this day. But back to Boomers: using the 18 year benchmark, let’s define a Boomer as one born from 1945 and 1963.
Or, to make an unnecessarily caustic observation, those dates would also be 1) when the first two cities were bombed with nuclear weapons and 2) when a bunch of people got together and decided to shoot John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Funny how these things work out, ya know? Spurious, specious nonsense? Probably, but odd nevertheless.
Stranger in a Strange Land? Or, if into Seventh Sojourns and all things Moodies (thanks, Stephan) that would be Lost in a Lost World. Can you grok it? We’re talking alienation now. Disenfranchisement. Anomie. Being on the outside, looking in. Feeling like you’ve lost your voice and that you live in a society that really doesn’t care about you or your hopes and dreams. That you’re nothing but a small – and very expendable – cog in a vast machine, and should you decide to raise your voice in anger or despair the machine will simply obliterate you. If you step out of line or speak out of turn, you and all your hopes and dreams will simply disappear, and it will be as if you never existed at all.
And the operant words here are so time-worn as to fall to the level of cliché. The Establishment. The System. The Man, as in working for.
Yeah. There’s a song for that, too.
Hell, there’s a song for everything, ya know?
So okay, whatever, let’s meet the new boss, same as the old boss…because we are the champions…of the world.
Okay. Right. Whatever.
“Let’s switch channels now, okay? There’s got to be a football game on somewhere, right? And bring me another beer, wouldya?”
So…Boomers and betraying the ideas they stood for…once upon a time.
Interesting trivia question. Can you name any presidents since WWII who did NOT have a degree from an Ivy League college or university?
Think about it and we’ll circle back to that one in a little bit.
And…any idea who the first Boomer president was? Yeah, if you said Clinton you’d be spot on. W was the second, though both were born in the summer of ’46. But what about Trump? Well, yes, he was born in the summer of ’46 too, and ain’t that weird? All three are Boomers, and all three are the same age, born just weeks apart, as a matter of record. And Obama…while technically a Boomer he’s a child of the sixties, bless his heart – as he popped onto the scene in 1961. Biden? Nope, our latest president ain’t a Boomer at all, as he was born in the summer of ’42.
And Biden is a curious departure from the recent norm, I think. He’s not really a Boomer, and in fact he’s being compared most often these days to FDR, especially in foreign policy circles. Still, he has just enough “progressive” in there to be a quasi-Boomer – in that unique Uncle Joe way of his.
Still, this whole Boomer generation is a confusing thing, taken as a whole – or a donut hole, your choice. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs? Boomers. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos? Not Boomers. Mitch McConnell is the same age as Biden, while Marjorie Taylor Greene is, like Musk and Bezos, a child of the 70s, yet it’s kind of hard not to think of these people as Boomers. Say? Is Boomeresque a word?
Being from Texas has major drawbacks. Whether you can appreciate this or not, I am a Texan. In point of fact, I hold a permanent (Advanced) Peace Officer’s Certification from the Great State of Texas, so whenever I go back there I am automatically, like it or not, a kind of cop. I have a duty, in other words, to respond to crimes committed in my presence. And that’s kind of strange, don’t you think? Strange, because to me, anyway, I’ve always assumed that every able bodied man or woman has a duty to intervene when observing a crime. Not so, however, and don’t even think about taking that attitude on the road unless you know a real good lawyer.
All of my good “cop” buddies are long gone now. My best was killed in the line of duty, another was killed in a meaningless accident while out riding on his Hawg (the two wheeled variety, sorry). I’m a badge number to be found only inside some computer located in a personnel office somewhere, maybe along with a few references to the Letters of Commendation I received once upon a time.
My first was for solving a homicide on my last night as a rookie. I’d responded to the scene of a supposed accident – a motorcycle lying off to the side of the road adjacent to a railroad crossing – and that’s all I had to go on. Long story, somewhat complicated, but all the pieces to that particular puzzle were all right out there in the open. Case closed.
I got my second letter a few years later, after a psychiatrist in the ER at Parkland wrote a letter to the chief about his observations of my dealings with a patient there. I talked this kid off a bridge one hot summer evening (he was going to jump down onto the local interstate highway) and rode my Hawg behind the ambulance to Parkland because I was still worried about him – and what he might do once he got there. The shrinks couldn’t get through to the kid – but for some reason I could (yeah, that undergrad degree in Psychobiology finally came in useful for something). I got him under control the good old fashioned way, too, by talking about pizza and beer. They cut him loose the next day – and he jumped later that day – killing himself and taking out the driver of a semi in the process – and it’s one of those things that sticks in my mind even now. Nightmares? You betcha.
Even when you know you’ve done everything you could, when the shit hits the fan like that there’s really nothing you can do. You just have to take it.
And that’s kind of the way it is now, too. Not just in the United States, and certainly not just in Texas, but everywhere. Because it feels like we did everything right and everything has turned pear-shaped even so. Nothing feels right. Everything seems to be falling apart, everywhere, and we’ve got the skyrocketing Deaths By Despair stats to prove it, too.
About 60 million Americans feel like the other 270 million are evil and many of these good honest Americans now want to kill the rest of us. If you listen to the evening pundits on Fox and One America or Newsmax the past couple of weeks you hear words like revolution and civil war being bandied about with careless abandon, like the Second Amendment applies only to them and that liberal don’t own guns too.
Max Boot, an opinion writer for the Washington Post, writes that Republicans have become nihilists. Disillusioned in the extreme, these folks believe their view of America is the only valid view, and so now they feel betrayed by the rest of us. Steve Bannon was their talisman, and Bannon’s mantra – to burn the fucker down – has suddenly become there’s too. Question? How many will it take to reach critical mass? What will happen when it does? (see Republicans aren’t conservatives. They’re nihilists, by Max Boot, Washington Post, 3 August 21).
Oh, the answer to the question above? Both Ronald Reagan and Joe Biden never attended an Ivy League school, and a large piece of our puzzle lies hidden in that factoid. Why? I think the answer can be found in matters of fairness and trust, but there are bigger questions lingering out there.
And while my standard answer applies, that these people are living inside a delusion, and they’re by and large probably more than a little sick, we may have reached a point of no return in this country. Unfortunately, as Reagan closed most of the public mental health facilities in this country, privatizing the industry and turning it into a system of for profit “treatment centers” for those with the means to seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, we have no good options for these people here in the United States. So with that in mind, right now I am putting forward my solution to the problem.
If you feel like America is doomed by multiculturalism, by gender ambiguity, by a fair rendering of history in the classroom, or if you know someone who feels this way, I would encourage you to hit this link (right here, you can’t miss it!) and begin to explore all the possibilities for your new life.
More to come. Stay tuned.