July 24, 2010
Last night, while watching PBS, I found out that I’m part of what has been called the Silent Generation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Generation). We are sandwiched in between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers. I’m not sure exactly who named us that, or why, something about us not making much of a ruckus in politics this season, I suppose. So today, I’m going to make a ruckus, just to prove them wrong.
I’m disgusted with the state of American Politics this week (which is not to imply that I haven’t been disgusted with the state of American Politics for many other weeks, too). But this week, I saw examples of such craven cowardice from both sides of the political spectrum that I feel I can’t be silent.
The first example of craven cowardice came from a conservative blogger named Andrew Breitbart, who edited video of a woman named Shirley Sherrod, a black woman who worked for the Department of Agriculture in Georgia, giving a speech at an NAACP convention. The edited version that he put up on the internet made her look like a racist, cost her her job at Ag and nearly destroyed her reputation before someone thought to review the entire speech and found that it was anything but racist.
Once the edited version of the video was picked up by the conservative media and then went main-stream, the liberals rushed in to prove that they could be just as craven and cowardly as the conservatives. The Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the NAACP all threw this woman under the bus without blinking an eye. They immediately fired her from her job and thoroughly denounced her supposed “racism” to any media person who would listen. Yes, at least they had the decency – if you can call it that after such cravenness – to apologize and offer her another job once someone bothered to find out the truth. Something Breitbart and most of the conservatives still have not done. But, that does not change what was done by both sides to this woman in the name of political expediency.
What is going on here? Both sides are playing a game. Just listen to any media person. (Out of respect to real journalists like Daniel Schorr, who died yesterday, I refuse to call these people journalists, or even reporters.) These media people talk endlessly about the Political Game – who’s winning, who’s losing and who’s scoring the most/best political points in this game today, this week, this year. But it is more than just a political game.
In the meantime, millions of ordinary Americans have lost their jobs, their pensions and their homes or are hanging on by their fingernails to keep from losing them. They were thrown under the bus when the economy tanked by the financial industry who caused it, the politicians of all stripes who enabled their financial shenanigans over the last thirty years and the media who enable the politicians by staging “got’cha” media events instead of earning the freedom of the press which the founding fathers provided them, by practicing real journalism. All this for the sake of The Game.
The purpose of the game? Maintain your share of the power at any cost. The winning technique? Divide and conquer.
Remember the first word in the Preamble to the Constitiution? WE. We the people of the United States. We people -who wanted nothing more (or less) than to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and insure the blessings of liberty” – have been played. We’ve been played by the wealthy, the politicians of all stripes, and a media that serves both their interests over ours. By those who see we the people as pawns in a power game, to be thrown under the bus at the slightest whiff of anything that could cost them a little of that power.
It doesn’t seem to matter any more whether we’re a tea party member, a democrat, a republican, an independent, a conservative hard right or a liberal hard left. We are no longer we, the people. They’ve managed to divide who we are, what we are into hundreds of groups designed only to augment their power in The Game. To the financial world, we’re consumers, offered an endless line of trinkets and plastic pumpkins we’re expected to buy – even if it means going into debt up to our eyeballs – to keep the economy going and provide them with more wealth and, thus, more power. To the politicians we’re a base (something they stand on to gain an advantage), expected to vote for them – no matter how egregious their political pandering to the wealthy and moneyed interests – to preserve their office and power. To the media we’re listeners or subscribers who are expected to passively receive their version of “the truth” – no matter how damning a lie it turns out to be – as they play the whore for the other two groups to maintain their share of the power.
I hate to tell you this, folks, but whether it is big government, Obama style, or smaller government; a la any republican now blathering on about it, it’s the same game. It uses the same stacked deck, designed to give us a few token crumbs of whatever they think we want, in order to keep us divided and angry and the game going.
It’s rarely played as openly (or as clumsily) as it was by Breitbart and the Administration this week, but it is played continuously by all parties. It will go on until we find a way to stop it (and I have my doubts that’s possible, no matter what we do, at this stage of the game) or until it and the country collapses under the enormous weight of greed and hubris the game has now engendered.
That’s why I’m a writer a doomer and a gardener. I no longer trust any of them to serve we, the people. But, even though they’ve conveniently divided us into “generations” (the more easily to pit us against one another, I suspect), my generation has rarely been silent and I don’t intend to start, now. Hmm, given the number of social justice leaders and artists from my generation who fundamentally changed society, music, writing and art in America to the present time, maybe the game players named us the Silent Generation because they hope, at our ages now, we finally will be. Not a chance.