Wednesday, July 09, 2008

YOUTH ISN’T TRUTH

Over on Truthout it is reported that California Democrats are trying to get 16-17 year-olds some type of vote (they call it ‘preregistering’), and seek to allow 17 year-olds to vote in the primary if they will be 18 by the general election. See “California Republicans Cool to Youth-Voting Bills” (http://www.truthout.org/article/state-republicans-cool-youth-voting-bills)

As is evident from its title, the article (originally from the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’) has clearly given this thing a certain spin. Something like: stuffy old grown-ups get in way of the future and a better life for all of us kewl types.

This is a re-run of the play the Dems deployed in ’71 when they got a constitutional amendment passed to give 18 year-olds the vote. The argument then was that if they could die in Vietnam they should be able to have the vote (neatly sidestepping the huge question as to whether their brains were sufficiently neurobiologically matured such that they could exercise any vote that they might ‘have’). But the drinking age was put back up to 21 after awhile; it seemed that the kids could be trusted with military weapons that could destroy whole city-blocks but didn’t do well with beer. And as mentioned here a couple of days ago, experienced special-forces ops seem to require an older, more matured brain – with, say, 30 or so years of experience under its belt – rather than the impatient and inexperienced – perhaps not even fully formed – brain of a late teen or a twenty-something.

If this were a matter of maturely considering the situation and going with the best available evidence and thought, you would expect the Dems to figure that maybe the voting age should go back up to 21, at least. But no. This is, like it was then, hell-and-gone from ‘mature consideration of the common weal’; it has now as it did then everything to do with the Dems garnering ‘votes’.

You might think that a moment’s step-back from the current national train-wreck might lead any responsible adult to consider that decades of conducting national politics according to ‘feelings’ and the surface appearances of things, rather than a sorta grown-up coming-to-grips-with the complexities of serious matters, would lead us away from a kid-friendly emphasis on ‘coolness’ and total, instant fulfillment of whatever ‘good’ the brain has currently latched on to. A politics of feelings and appearances has utterly debauched and derailed our politics and undercut our common weal.

In support, the media report ‘feelings’ rather than issues, pols are concerned not only primarily with ‘feelings’ but even more importantly with making sure that they appear to be sensitive to feelings. Feelings unrealistic, immature, and downright dark have deformed Constitutional theory, jurispraxis, and the criminal law; soapisch and celebrity-besotted political ‘campaigns’ have led to the selection of Bush as President, and a current roster of candidates to replace him that features an aged, dubiously distinguished eccentric and a well-intentioned man with little actual experience, who himself has just recently triumphed over a woman who claimed that being the wife of a President went a long way to qualify her for the Presidency itself.

This is no way to run a Republic. And we shall not remain one very long.

‘Youth’ was one of the Identities desperately raised up by the Dems to replace the enraged Southern whites (who with their whackjob preachers achieved an Ascendancy in the past fifteen years from the consequences of which We shall never fully recover) and the soon-to-be-obsolescent blue-collar industrial males of the soon-to-be Rustbelt, whose obsolescence the Dems did much to hasten in their two-faced orgy of pandering to feminists who hated ‘men’ and corporate barons who hated giving money to workers. Mr. Obama may be very well-intentioned, but he faces a well-entrenched treachery that has had decades, on both sides of the aisle, to settle in. Mr. McCain, no doubt, will consider the present state of the affairs as The American Way, and continue – like Superman – to ‘do whatever it takes’ to preserve it.

‘Youth’ is not known for its ability to deliberate. The brain itself hasn’t fully formed, let alone the individual’s ability to effect a mastery of the integrated operating system of brain, body, emotions, character (or what is left of that concept in education) and even spirit (ditto ditto ditto). Nor is it possessed of a database of experience from which analysis can be widely and deeply made through comparison and contrast. Nor is it known for its ability to sustain a course of action once chosen. This is not a ‘failure’ in youth; it’s simply the way youth is given the factors available and unavailable to it at this phase of development.

Nor is it known for its ability to speed-bump the connections between feelings and the step-back capacity to reflect. Nor to reflect on alternatives. Or consequences.

We can see how a too-youthy politics is hardly a wise path for a Republic, or any government. Yes, the youthfulness of the National Socialists is an awefull if little-considered truth; but even Hitler saw that once he had achieved power he had to have maturity and competence to achieve his visions (in the end, it was his own profound unripeness, not that of his people, that did him in); he decapitated the youthful SA with its impatient, erratic, brutal idealism, and quietly engorged the professional military, while raising up the vampiric SS and Gestapo to keep the citizenry in line.

You might think that at such a critical juncture in the national history as 1968, the Dems might have thought things out more carefully: it was clear that the era of incredible advantages accruing to the U.S. by its being the only undamaged great nation to emerge from WW2 was coming to an end; Seymour Melman had already begun warning that the American reliance on a Permanent War Economy was robbing the nation’s industrial base of capital to modernize, as the Pentagon’s budget grew and grew. The basis of our economic strength was eroding just when the magical era of our almost total industrial advantage was passing away; the economy would become harder pressed to provide jobs for ‘the working man’; an over-reliance on military spending could lead to overseas military adventures – and even in 1968 it was becoming clear that not only was that happening, but that it wasn’t working out very well either. It was time for some serious grown-up thinking.

But no. The Dems were thinking short-term; in terms of survival. Their own. Did society need to become less ‘male’ to satisfy the feminists? Call it a liberation and give them whatever they demanded. Did ‘grown-ups’ turn off the kids and frustrate their dreams? Let everybody get in touch with their Inner Kid (JFK had already played this card in ’60 to cancel out the age and experience of the Republicans) and let’s stop hemming and hawing and being stodgy and start being ‘hip’ and ‘sensitive’ and whatever.

And here We are. Forty years later. Our politics are a laughing-stock around the world (though the national media sensitively and shrewdly shield Us from the snickering); Our economy is based on a Rube-Goldberg set of illusory, immaterial barterings that have only served to enrich the mega-rich; the working folks and now the middle class, their faith in the Dems as the party of FDR and his promises betrayed, are hard-pressed just to make ends meets, while bombarded with Bubbles backed by pious government assurances and made-for-TV ‘outrages’ blared regularly and nonstop on TV and cable ‘news’.

The national ability to process information has been hugely changed. And degraded. We as a society process information now as emotion-addled kids, having regressed from adulthood and adult-brain processing capabilities in an orgy of scornful tossing-away; alas, the baby of maturity (sorry) went out with the bathwater of formal dress and manners.

This has served well those elements that need Us only for Our labor and – once every few years – Our votes. And after 40 years, that includes both the Democrat Party and Republican Party, no longer usefully described as Liberals and Conservatives, but merely as anti-democratic Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum. We bid fair to morph into a Cromwellian – though ‘sensitive’ – police state at home and an imperial policing state abroad. But we'll be doing it 'for the children' and 'to spread democracy'.

If the economy doesn’t lose minimum airspeed first. Or the rest of the world decides it will carry on its affairs in some currency other than dollars.

Then the infantilized citizenry will collapse into high-stericks, and for once will justify the increase of government control of their lives; Americans will return to the womb of tyrannical government as today’s failed and unripe twenty-somethings (canaries in the mine?) are returning home to live with their parents – simultaneously grateful and sullen, their development as adults derailed, their capacity to participate in a mature society stunned into impotence.

Well, that last part is what I’m afraid may happen.

But there is still time. Or maybe there isn’t. But even if there isn’t (and I’m not saying that) We are Americans, and the heritage entrusted to Us is to pool our maturities and come together as The People, to raise up a decent government faithful to the Founding and obedient to Us. If We lose that type of government, then We have lost America and We have lost Ourselves. It’s kind of a ‘1776’ moment. Do We still have the chops to pledge Our lives, Our fortunes, and Our sacred honor?

This is no job for kids. They need to learn, but for that to happen, they need to be taught. By example.

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