Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Dump

I don't usually enjoy talking about politics.  This could be due to the fact that I live smack dab in the middle of suburban Long Island, where almost everyone is a staunch conservative(whether they know why or not) and in turn dismiss everything I say as being of the "bat-shit" variety.  This is not to say that I am a "liberal" by any stretch of the imagination.  I can't stand labels, but gun-to-my-head I would have to identify most closely as "moderate".  It just so happens in 2012 American Politics, "liberal" has become more analogous with "moderate", and "conservative" has become more analogous with "medieval", so perceptions have shifted accordingly.

But this story made me want to peak my head out for a minute, if only because I feel I can identify with it:
Jonathan Krohn is an American author who at the age of 14 became a premier spokesperson for the conservative way of life, giving a speech at CPAC, and penning the book "Defining Conservatism".  Throughout all corners of the right, he was touted as the next great leader of the Republican Party.  And then something weird happened...

He changed his mind.

Suddenly, he now admits he most closely associates with a liberal point of view, stating he would even vote for Barack Obama if he could.

So what happened?  This kid was supposed to be a genius.  The next bearer of the GOP cross.  The next Hannity.  The next Rush.  How can an opinion rooted so deeply in an ideal make a complete 180 in just a couple of years?

The answer, I believe, is simple.  He grew up.

Krohn speaks of how social conservatism(easily the most archaic form of conservatism) was the first to go for him, and he attributes learning through great philosophers of earlier times as a big stepping stone to opening his mind.

Let's get something straight.  Without a doubt, the single greatest ankle weight slowing this current generation of Americans, is that the word 'elite' became a four letter word.  Being smart suddenly makes you contemptible and out of touch, whereas on the other hand, resolve has become almost over-idealised, regardless of the themes and messages that you exercise resolve about.  It's no longer about right and wrong, but about macho posturing and who can yell the word "tradition" the loudest.  The argument is gone.  There is only disdain left.  Like an aged 90s Nokia doused in Swarovski, American discourse has become all style and no substance.

But, as it turns out, before this current crop of humans now settling the earth, there have been many previous generations, lots of which produced their own uniquely intelligent, forward thinking, and widely respected geniuses who are still revered to this day.  Learning about their point of views is not something to be ashamed of.  History and the records of those who lived it are what drive us forward.  The template by which we decide.  A preventative treatment for cyclical mistakes.  A foundation and a catalyst for the next burst of human enlightenment.

Yet conservatives like Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachman would view this as "Indoctrination".  Frankly, such an argument seems ludicrous when taken at face value, but, myself being a descendent of rigid conservatism, and among the most disillusioned people you will ever meet, I think I get it.

It ain't easy growin' up.  Most of us saw the same rose-colored sunshine and rainbows as children,  Right was right and wrong was wrong.  Mommy and Daddy knew best.  God was alive.  You could be anything you wanted to be.  You were special.  It was simple.  It was easy.

And then the cold days of adolescence began creeping up on us.  Suddenly, it seemed to rain just a little bit more.  You met people who did not think you were very special, and very often wanted to express, by way of locker, how much they hated you.  Mommy and Daddy became fallible.  Science was alive.  A teacher told you you don't really belong in the accelerated class, and in years ahead, you lost out on a couple of job opportunities.  

This isn't right anymore.  This is chaos.  This is complicated.  This is hard.

Once the veil of utopia begins to slip, it can be a tough pill to swallow.  Hell it can be downright scary.  A primary instinct can be to run from it, and the pain that comes with it.  To wall yourself off mentally from the harsh indifference of the world, and the inevitable truths that come with it.  It certainly was for me.  Shit, I haven't slept properly in twelve years. 

This is, what I humbly believe, is the underlying symptom behind Tea-Party Conservatism.  A collection of people who utilize fear to allow themselves to remain faithful to old, contradictory, and many times disproven, ideas, because any alternative is either too damn complicated or too damn terrifying.  So they'll yell "Socialism" the loudest, redefine and simplify patriotism as nothing more than blind resolve, and polish off their best Obama Hitler signs, because it's easy, and it's what they grew up with, and who the fuck are you to tell them they're wrong.  This is the same underlying symptom that causes Rick Santorum to home school his children, for fear of them scraping against the same disillusion he did before he hitailed it as fast as he could in the other direction.

They have, in effect, weaponized nostalgia.

Now let me be clear that I do not hate conservatism (and what it used to mean).  I flat out encourage the rational debate between the two sides that increasingly eludes us as the years go by.  But the fact is that this bastardization of a set of ideals has now managed to hijack MY government, and that is something that I cannot condone.

We are about to witness roughly half of the country refuse to sign up for the Medicaid expansion present in the Affordable Care Act, a provision that the feds are paying for IN FULL, and would grant health insurance to MILLIONS of Americans.  Virtually no downside to signing up.  But they won't, because.....ugh.... FUCK OBAMA.

Responsible governors in opposition of the bill, and true representatives of the people, would accept the law of the land and do what's best for their State.

The reason they won't is so they can maintain their childlike awe, reject any forward thinking or modernized ideas, and scream "values" the loudest.  And this basic principle has been the precedent for just about EVERY SINGLE governmental issue for awhile now, reaching a fever pitch in these last few years.

If you want to reject civility and double down on the stupid simply because you want to be a kid again, that's fine.  It's your American right to remain as blissfully ignorant as you want.  

But if you are going to use that blissful ignorance to elect representatives into my government to provide the congressional equivalent of Nah-Nah-Nah-Nah-Poo-Poo, you sir, can go fuck yourself.

I may be struggling in this harsh and uncertain landscape that is "being a twenty-something in today's America", but I'm not afraid anymore.

And neither is Jonathan Krohn.



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