Experience vs. Endurance – The Disaster of Turning Political Activism into a Triathlon

I’m sure I’m not the first person who was deliberately pushed out of a job in which younger workers were preferred. The means used to get rid of the older workers was a series of tough projects that “required” us to put in multiple 48-hour stints to meet an arbitrary deadline. This has become a common practice to get rid of workers who have been around long enough to see their paychecks pick up a few raises more than the company would prefer to pay. Aside from being unethical and ageist. this practice is creating a generation of workers who actually believe their physical stamina makes them superior to experienced workers.

Age-baiting has become commonplace in political campaigns, with younger candidates talking about their energy and attacking their opponents for minor illnesses. Dismissing decades of knowledge and life experience is not only rude, it’s dangerous and destructive. On social media, older activists are also seeing a spectacular degree of dishonesty from the people who age-bait, as we see a trend emerging in which evidence that is presented to them is ignored out of hand, in favor of alt-left hearsay. At some point, information itself became tainted with an expiration date, regardless of whether or not it was disproved or new information replaced it. If your facts are somehow not connected with “breaking news”, don’t expect your point of view to be considered validated. “Ghosting” on a debate is the new version of getting the last word in.

60’s activists read books and newspapers from all over the world. They were artists, writers, musicians, and scholars who recognized the value of knowledge and the importance of forming a cohesive resistance against corporatism. The majority of them made immense personal sacrifices, giving up the security of their families and jobs in order to challenge the bigotry, sexism, and creative stagnation of society.

They transformed and enhanced the Democratic Party, and their efforts were rewarded by the emergence of strong liberal candidates like Kennedy and McGovern. They immersed themselves in politics and understood history better than most college professors. They saw the evidence that incremental progress created positive changes that lasted. They were willing to take the long view and protect the advancements of those who paved the way before them. They never rested on their laurels, understanding that our civil liberties are fragile, and along with our public safety nets, will always be a target for a parasitic class of shameless profiteers.

These old warriors are slipping into the sunset now, battle-weary and sick at heart. They have every reason to be despondent, as so few of the newest activists are worthy or willing to carry their torches forward with the integrity and commitment necessary for the complex battles that lie ahead.

Fame is the new coin of the realm, and today’s mewling tantrum throwers care only to make a name for themselves, cynically calculating every move and wardrobe change as it relates to their personal branding. Their self worth is measured by their popularity on social media. They reject the progress that was already underway because the credit is already assigned to someone else. The younger generation wants recognition, they want notoriety, either good or bad. They crave a form of virally explosive glory. Political activism offers an avenue to a special kind of warrior cred. ¬†Positive change can be accomplished toward this end. Unfortunately, they just don’t want to do the work. Destructive activities deliver the drug of fame much faster and with less effort.

A revolution is for a nation in decline. Ours was a country in recovery, as evidenced by our ability to elect Barack Obama twice, and to witness the first woman presidential candidate in history win more votes than any other candidate other than Obama himself. There is just no way to justify a backlash against such a beautifully successful movement that was just starting to exert real strength on so many fronts.

I turned 18 in 1982. I was grateful to the generations of liberals who came before me and I respected their achievements. I did my part without worrying about my image or wondering if I would ever get on TV or receive a million hits on a blog. I never had a problem with the idea of “toiling in obscurity”. Have decades of reality TV and the concept of being famous just for being famous created a generation of mirror-dwelling attention addicts?

The solipsism of a third generation of latchkey kids collided with the narcissistic entitlement of the first wave of helicopter children, and the macro lens that engulfed them both demanded that they recreate the world in their own image, recasting liberal heroes as establishment villains who must be shipped off to Shady Pines lest Western Civilization fester and collapse in an endless string of lanai decks in a quiet suburb of Miami. But hey, isn’t it a good thing that SOMEONE is out there reaming the Kochfunded oligarchs? Unfortunately, the kids have decided THAT war is already lost, it’s somehow OUR fault that cheating, gerrymandering and voter suppression happened, and it’s somehow our responsibility alone to clean up that mess.

In true T-Ball Champion form, the “Our Revolution” crew has decided to simply duck the GOP’s knuckleballs, letting them just zing past their heads, while they bunt with all the bases loaded, whining that the exhausted old-school activists aren’t clocking that ball over exactly the right board in the right section of the back fence so they can saunter on home with plenty of time to snag that unicorn latte. If we can’t hit a triple with every swing, we’re benched, never mind that we got the team to the Series in the first place. In this era of age-baiting, experience means you’ve been around too long. The more you know, the closer you are to being dead. That would be fine if they wanted the information that we have gleaned throughout our decades on this planet, but they would rather reinvent the wheel, no matter how much blood must be spilled for that magical “I Carved An Axle” participation trophy.

It’s my torch. I’ll pass it when you actually start fighting the bad guys.

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