By Frank Hyland
Every generation firmly believes that, because they’ve got all the answers, it’s time for their predecessors, their elders to step aside and out of the way to make way for them. All the calls for "Change" tell us that once again those in their 20s, 30s and 40s are panting to take over the lead from the "old codgers" who are making all the mistakes. Many of the youngsters, though, display a words-deeds dichotomy that speaks loudly that they can use a bit more "seasoning" before they take the reins.
Added to the daily barrage of calls for "Change," we’re now told that it is once again time for a new generation to assume the leadership of the United States. We are told this by no less an authority on young people than Senator Edward Kennedy, age 76. Senator Kennedy, for those not intimately familiar with him, is also a paramount example of truthfulness, marital fidelity, and non-partisan politics. Nevertheless, it is always helpful to look at the day-to-day behaviors of the younger generation to see if there are clues there, clues to how they would act in the Oval Office. The younger generation clamoring for change and to take the reins of power, like all other generations before it, needs to be willing to look in the mirror and to be honest with itself as to the image it sees there.
There is a way to at least get an indication of how Young Folks would act in the Oval Office, The US Senate, or the House of Representatives: Their predecessors’ behavior in office has been very similar, identical actually, to the way they acted before being elected. In most cases, to be fair, the behavior in office has been honorable (or at least the Mainstream Media hasn’t yet uncovered the truth). It’s the behavior of Young Folks in society at large that can be alarming.
Essentially, we must be able to trust the word of our public officials. Well, what we used to call wedding "vows" seems to have taken on a new meaning, as divorce rates soar. Promissory notes for bank loans take a back seat more and more as bankruptcy rates soar. Realtors must wonder at night how many of the "15-year" mortgages these days will be honored longer than 15 weeks; moving out in the middle of the night and bringing in hogs to take your place, because you’re upset at being foreclosed, may become even more of a trend. The horror stories about abuse of others, children and adults, are made more horrible by the growing number of police officers, priests and ministers, counselors, health professionals and teachers who are convicted of perpetrating the crimes.
At their swearing-in ceremony, public officials promise to uphold the law in all its varying forms. Nowadays, so many drivers break one law or another behind the wheel that it seems to be the rare individual who doesn’t. Check the growing number of signs in filling stations that warn against "Driving Off." Toll booths are equipped with cameras to catch those who slow down, then speed through without paying; other cameras watch us at intersections to catch those heedless to red lights. In case you hadn’t noticed, incidents of road rage are not the special province of the elderly in this country.
Even if someone is a fundamentally good person, there’s another hurdle that must be cleared – a certain minimum IQ. Pay closer attention to the Question-On-the-Street, and you’ll hear how many younger folks are ignorant of Geography, History, Math and other topics that used to be taken for granted. If you want to make decisions about my money, you should be able to be smart with yours. The bankruptcy rates, those paying just the minimum on their credit cards every month, carrying a five-figure amount on a credit card at 29% interest, signing up for mortgages that will bust their pocketbooks in short order, all speak very loudly that I don’t want their hand in my pocket.
Yes, there are older folks who do wrong things, bad things, and who can only aspire to have the money sense of a gnat. And there are younger folks who walk the straight and narrow and are money whizzes. Seeing young folks in droves volunteering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and joining the military is comforting. It’s the odds, though, based on behavior that make one nervous about someone’s age when they run for office. I think I’ll let that pot brew just a wee bit longer.
Frank Hyland is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.