05 October 2004

From the Archive: My Political Genesis Realised

Author's Note: I had originally submitted this to the Opinion Journal but it was very politely rejected, no doubt because their target demographic is not formerly disillusioned twentysomethings. Although, I do have a feeling that that is about to change.

When I was a kid, my mother had this habit of buying me flag-wear, T-shirts especially. As I grew older and started voicing my own wardrobe opinions, I began to dislike my mother’s flag-wear obsession. “What’s the point, nobody cares anyway,” was my usual response to her question of what patriotic Tee I would like that summer, and I wasn’t alone.

During my school years, I had seen apathy take possession of most of the greatest minds I had encountered. Brilliant students would settle for failing grades because they had no desire or reason to achieve. The students I taught couldn’t even muster a sarcastic chuckle when I encouraged them to reap the rewards of maximum effort. I had felt as if I had been swallowed by a generation who just didn’t care about anything, because they were given no reason to care. Parents were focused on working; teachers were focused on tenure; administrations were focused on politics; students were focused on the evils of them all. A panoply of commentators has remarked on the liberal bias in education, and I can testify to its truth, because if it were not so, both my peers and my students would not be saddled in this apathetic, hopeless state.
This year’s Presidential campaign has been no different, until now. Until now, John Kerry has informed us via the usual laundry list of liberal complaints: claims of economic depression, massive job loss, wretched security standards, and a Most Despised Nation status within the world. Until now, the media elite have informed us that our current President is nothing more than a religious zealot and a hayseed. Until now, the Ivory Tower has taught us that we are in a constant battle of “Us” versus “The Other” and since we represent Western, capitalist, white, patriarchal, heterosexual thought, we have no right to win. Until now, they’ve allowed themselves to function within the parameters of the Pauline Kael Syndrome, believing that they, and only they are right.

Well, beyond a reasonable doubt, they’ve been proven wrong.

In a sweeping show of American patriotism, the Republican National Convention acted as a four-night session of group therapy for the United States. In what could be equated to the largest group-hug since the Reagan years, Americans learned that our economy is growing steadily; home ownership is at an all-time high, especially among African- and Hispanic-Americans. The unemployment rate is down to 5.5% (it’s standard during the Clinton years) and declining. Our nation hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11, and, to quote a Democrat, our troops are viewed as liberators, not occupiers, around the world. But more promising than all of that was the overarching theme of the convention: a more hopeful America. The Democrats asked us to place our lost hopes in one man; the Republicans are asking us to renew our hope in ourselves.

I was one of the oddballs who watched C-Span for the majority of the RNC for one simple reason: I wanted to see as many crowd-shots as possible, and what I saw was surprising. Along with the seniors, the veterans, the moms and dads, and the various ethnicities and religions present, there was a large percentage of twenty-somethings in professional garb, some of which were most likely still college students, all of whom were proudly waving American flags. These were members of my generation who had hope. Hope in themselves and in their future, both of which were intrinsically tied to the hope they had in their country. Apparently the apathy hasn’t swallowed us completely after all.

There are a growing number of us, the members of the Alex P. Keaton generation, who were birthed into the Reagan Revolution but raised during the years of the Liberal Lie, who didn’t lay waste to the sheer apathy that years of brainwashing in schools and the media had sought to produce. We had been taught to seek solace in acceptance, resignation, and defeat, by the purveyors of a philosophy that pardoned a leader of our country for lying to his people under oath. But, thank G-d, we didn’t pay attention in class. Their philosophy has backfired; the liberal establishment taught us not to respect authority, and now we aren’t respecting theirs. We’re making up our own minds and taking control over our own futures. That is why the liberals hate the flag so much: when we wave it, we’re not only showing pride in our country, we’re showing pride in ourselves.

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