I remember the first moon landing. It came a year after the film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The film seemed less like a work of fiction than one of future fact. The war in Vietnam was well underway and the Cold War was still ongoing. But it was an optimistic and hopeful time and we thought the future was going to be better: socially and scientifically.
Starting in the 1970s, that optimism began to flail. In 1980, President Ronald Reagan first spoke about ‘Making America Great Again,’ meaning we weren’t great nor were we on a path to greatness. By the 1990s, the mood was no longer one of the future being worse. But it had stopped being about the future becoming better.
After the millennium bug failed to crash the world’s computers, we seemed to be on an upward path. The economy was growing and the debt was shrinking. As we laughed at how “The Grinch Stole Christmas,” we discovered that “Monsters” were real and we saw Hogwarts for the first time. Then the towers came crashing down. Everything changed.
The decade of the aughts, or double ohs or double zeros, was a long walk off a short pier. We rushed off to war and found ourselves once again feeling mislead and betrayed by our political leaders. The ‘war’ dragged on and we found ourselves having entered into a new world dominated by the Middle East, terrorism and an endless quest for homeland security.
We ended the decade first having abandoned all hope, then voting for a new direction that promised hope and change. Our hope and change quickly gave way to a new normal of political conflict and financial stagnation. The twenty-tens have seen a growing chasm across the country. Economically, we see the 1 percent drawing out the life and vitality of the 99 percent. Politically, moderation has been destroyed with compromise being the worst word one can use. Today, America is in a constant tug of war between the left and the right, each seeing and wanting a nation that supports only their ideology and their laws.
Our two leading presidential candidates prepare to enter the gladiator ring. The 24-hour news is nothing but a color commentary on the day’s blows and potential strategies for tomorrows’ skirmishes. Is it any wonder that both candidates have the highest negative ratings in history or that our youngest generation turns their back on both people and both parties?
In looking at the support for the remaining alternative, Bernie Sanders, we see some important trends. As a lifetime Independent, Sanders draws support from a wide spectrum. There are not just Democrats looking for a party champion. There are Republicans for Bernie, Women for Bernie, Veterans for Bernie and more. The reason that these groups, and the majority of people under 30, support Bernie Sanders is that they are not interested in championing either party at the expense of the country.
Whatever happens in this year’s election, the younger generation and those who are young at heart are looking for a brighter future of equal and expanded rights and opportunities. The narrow view of “winner take all” is giving way to “one for all and all for one.”
A president once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” However, an earlier Republican and Democratic president – each named Roosevelt – believed that the future would be better with a government made up of we the people, created by we the people and working on behalf of we the people.
Submitted by Craig Donovan