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Archive for February, 2010

Tea-baggin’ It

Are you happy with American democracy? According to a recent poll on CNN over half of you aren’t. And after listening to the Health Care Summit in Washington today I’m not either. Here’s why: it seems everyone can agree that our health care system is wack, it’s been wack for a while now, and we can’t do anything about it. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought one of the glories of democracy was that if a majority of the people feel something isn’t working right they have the capacity to change it.

Apparently in modern America that’s just not the case. And people are angry. The most vocal group is the ridiculous Tea Party.

This “Tea Party” thing is actually pretty interesting. When I first heard about it I was quick to dismiss it as some dumbshit redneck group. Especially after all the Foxnews rapture and astroturf talk, I thought “there is no way this will grow into anything. But after this year’s CPAC it seems to be heading that way.

Because it’s a movement dammit! It’s democracy, it’s people fighting for a cause, and it’s been boiling under the surface for a long time. It’s been boiling in all of us, in our dissatisfaction with the way the world is operating.

What really sucks is that this sort of thing is quickly politicized, and this politicization immediately draws it up out of the pure desire for something better and plops it into the arena of sleaze, of popularity, of the cable news cycle, and it’s quickly tainted.

If it could stay pure and hopeful, if it could speak to some basic human desire, then people from across the political spectrum could join in, but instead you’ve got people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck latching on.

And because it has become political, it is less righteous and more dangerous. These people are fairly extreme in some of their views, some of which are culturally conservative, and the more the media disregards the Tea Party, the more people write it off as fringe movement full of crazies, the more its members are justified, not just feel justified but are actually justified, in their fight.

And yeah, the whole movement is hyper hypocritical in its positions, but we’re all hypocrites in lots of areas in our lives. Be that as it may, it would be cool if there were some way to bridge the divide between the Tea Party and the liberals who feel disenfranchised over the state of things. I’m pessimistic about any real revolutionary change, but if there was ever a time for it seems like now is as good as any.

If the Tea Party could just boil its message down to a more basic level, below the politics, and have some key points it might actually be productive:

  • Smaller Government (Especially less government intrusion in day to day life/a libertarian slant)
  • Lowering the national debt
  • Energy Independence
  • States Rights (Let liberal states be liberal, let conservative states be conservative
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Extremely limited special interest influence
  • A commitment to take the government back from big business and put it in the hands of citizens

A cool ticket would be a Tea Party candidate and someone like Ralph Nadar, or like a Ron Paul Dennis Kucinich ticket.

What sucks is that a big part of the Tea Party’s platform and momentum is a massive opposition to everything Obama, which plays right into Republican’s political wishes (and their politicians don’t really want anything to change, they just want to be back in power: see the George W. presidency).

The ultimate task would be to boil a message down to something below political ideology, something purely human that people could rally around despite differences in things like abortion and gay rights and welfare and other supercharged issues. Those things would take care of themselves, especially if you allow states to decide for themselves what they want (although I really think it’s preposterous that gays are still not equal citizens (I’ll save it for another post)).

If all the liberal groups just blindly oppose the Tea Party, then the cycle will keep getting worse. The liberals have got to take a proactive stance on it and find common ground on the most important issues. Namely:

  • What do we ultimately want from our government?
  • What are the fundamental flaws in the system and how can they be addressed and then remedied?

I think we should have sent an ambassador to the Tea Party convention and extended a peace-offering. Click the link below to hear my impromptu speech, and let me know what you think.

Tea Party Speech

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Generation When

I like short and sweet, so I’ll hit you with the crux before I let loose with the lyricism. This blog really boils down to one question: “With all the privilege and opportunity in the world, in history even, why would we not be the happiest folks ever?”

And no I can’t really answer it, but I’ll sure build a bog around it.

My generation, like probably all modern generations, has run the gamut of labels, most intended to apply some sort of characteristics that strive to define who we are and what we’re about.

We’ve been dubbed “Generation Y”, the Millennial Generation, Generation Next, Net Generation, hell even The Echo Boomers (which actually sounds like a sweet band name). And I’m not saying these labels are bad or anything, despite the lack of creativity in naming the generation after generation x generation y. There are a lot of attributes attached to these labels that make sense.

But I’m not really interested in going through all of the labels and their characteristics, arguing for some and against others, based on personal experience or whatever. No, that would be too insightful, and so I’ll tread in the opposite direction. To further clutter the playing field, I’ll throw a label into the ring that’s sort of a symptom of being a member of this generation.

Lately, I’ve felt I’m a member of generation when. Like my peers, I’ve been coddled a bit, both by my upbringing and by the media, to truly believe that the world is my oyster. That I can do anything I want, be anybody I want, do whatever my little heart desires and no one can stop me. And it’s true, we have unprecedented opportunities to decide for ourselves what we want to make of our lives. And while it would seem that these opportunities would be extremely liberating, more often than not they prove debilitating. Our excess of freedom can feel overwhelming, because if you can do whatever you want with your life the pressure is fucking on to do something great…or you’ll have wasted your chance. That’s a lot of pressure, and it can lead to massive indecision. Every decision, whether it’s where to go to school, what to study, how to dress, how to act, where to live, where to work, what to do with your spare time, etc., is all suddenly imbued with a ridiculous amount of pressure. A decision like what to major in seems to have huge repercussions, because once you choose, you tell yourself you’re giving up on tons of other options. So I’m supposed to make these decisions that in my mind will severely limit my ability to do whatever I want with my life. But I don’t want to limit my decisions; I want to be able to do whatever I want, because that’s what we’ve been raised to know. So we put off making these decisions, and when we do, often our hearts aren’t really in them. We feel forced into things, and we tell ourselves “Well…I’ll just do this for right now while I figure out what I really want to be doing”. We wonder:
•    When will I find my dream job?
•    When will I feel happy with what I’m doing?
•    When will I know what I want out of this life?
•    When will I be an adult?
•    When will I get off my ass and start doing what I know needs to be done?

That, is generation when. We live in a funk, overly concerned with plans for the future while doing nothing about the present. obsessed with keeping our options open. Wondering when, when. When.

It’s a weird, existential funk, and it’s what this blog will try to address. Sounds fun right? Actually no, it sounds like a smoothie made with pretentiousness, lack of self-awareness, mid-life crisis and shitty emo music. And honestly, no one wants to read, or drink, that shit.

Instead, my goal is to make something fun. Something in the present, not the future. Something that forces me to address who I am and what I want, without having to explicitly write about it. This post will hopefully be the first and last of it’s kind, I just want to justify more to myself than to anyone else what I’m doing. I want to make something, and I would love it if my readers help me out. I want comments, I want contributors, hell I’ll be happy with readers. So come along for the ride and see where it ends up.

And if the pressure ever gets too great, and you feel like you’re losing your direction, take a page out of the late great Kurt Vonnegut’s book:

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