I just attended a Gun Legislation Rally in Annapolis, organized and led by high school students, and saw many potential new voters for the rapidly approaching 2018/20 elections. This was one of hundreds of similar rallies which occurred simultaneously in Washington, DC and around the nation.
My generation has allowed the National Rifle Association (NRA) to pervert the wording of the second amendment for the last 30 years to allow our government to potentially put high capacity/rate-of-fire assault weapons in the hands of every non-militia person in the land. We might as well allow everyone to carry a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher! A strict construction of the constitution would only allow for a member of our militia (the US military services) to own and carry a muzzle-loading musket with a rate of fire of about 2 rounds per minute.
I am no anti-gun zealot. I own a number of shotguns myself and shoot in sporting clays competitions weekly. I am a Democrat and revere the US Constitution as much as any Republican. The NRA, as a lobbyist of the gun manufacturing industry, has purchased the Republican Party of Trump. Gun control, however, is only a symbol of a much larger political problem.
It can be argued that President Trump is our baby boomer generation’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” as described by Oscar Wilde in 1891. Bruce Gibney describes this picture in his recent book, “A Generation of Sociopaths.” I find most of his observations compelling.
Many believe that my parents’ generation was perhaps the greatest in US history. They sacrificed much for their country and their fellow citizens. My father was killed in World War II flying his aircraft into harm’s way. They paid high taxes for the welfare of the country. They passed Social Security and Medicare laws to care for the elderly and civil rights laws for opportunity equality.
I have lived through at least five major military actions that we no longer call wars; a forty-year cold war with Russia; two presidents shot (one killed); and two presidents impeached (one resigned). I was educated by both private and public schools (at significant taxpayers’ expense). I have advised our nation’s cabinet secretaries on both war and transportation policy. I have taught hundreds of engineers to design the systems of the future. With whatever wisdom I may have acquired, my advice to this next generation that organized these rallies is to not repeat our generation’s great mistakes.
We took a great nation with the best education system in the world and made it too expensive for most of our population. We have taken what was a modern infrastructure of highways, airports, dams, and public water supplies (paid for by our parents) and have failed to fund improvements or even basic maintenance of these vital elements of any modern society. We have decreased our national research budgets in the hopes that industry will now fund the technology previously largely provided to them by government funding. We have polluted our air and water systems in the interest of saving money for industries so that those industries can increase their profit margins.
The Republican Party seems to feel it is virtuous to deny adequate health care to the poor and the elderly, effectively saying, “If the poor cannot pay for it, so be it. It is virtuous to keep our tax dollars in our pockets.” They want us to believe in an economic policy of “trickle down” that is backed by no empirical evidence at our historical marginal tax rates. The new federal tax laws imply, “Never ask our citizens to pay for our wars. We should pay for our war debts with more deficit spending. We need to reduce taxes, not increase them to pay down our debt.”
Having blocked infrastructure funding proposed under the Democrats, Republicans now feel we can replace public highways with privately funded toll roads. The Republican Administration would argue, “It is not a federal taxpayer responsibility. There should never be any economic cross subsidies.” Although they seem willing to make an exception when taxpayer funding provides the infrastructure and basic technology for industrial profits.
Our generation favors Medicare and Social Security for ourselves, but opposes any new tax increases, or decreased benefits to keep the systems solvent for the next generation.
Republicans argue, “Only the families or the students who can afford to attend colleges and universities should now pay for our great public universities.” Why not just call them private?
Is it any wonder that the millennial generation distrusts politicians? My generation, along with President Reagan and Ayn-Rand worshipers in particular, have handed them a lot of big problems.
Our new young voters realize that my generation has elected a deplorable president and that the Republican Party is demonstrating that they are largely incompetent at governance. The GOP cares nothing about either public opinion or the general welfare of our nation. This should come as no surprise, as their fundamental philosophy is that all government is evil.
A great awakening is now happening with our under-25 citizens. Many are realizing that they must be the governmental leaders of the future. They will be responsible for fixing the problems that many of us have left them. Whether they like it or not, they will now have to deal with these issues, both for themselves and for their children.
George Donohue is a Professor Emeritus of Systems Engineering at George Mason University and the president of the South County Democratic Club. His opinions are his own and not those of the university or of the club. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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