By Vernon A. Williams
Every responsible adult in the United States of America should feel some measure of guilt. The world we are forcing the Class of 2019 to confront is a mess, not of their own doing. But they are now the only hope of cleaning up this mess.
Everybody over 50 could have done more to prevent this catastrophic state in which Americans find themselves today. But the need for endless consumption, nonchalance, misplaced priorities, and jaded principles contributed to a dizzying fog that clouded possibilities and thwarted potential for a greater society.
Now many find themselves in sprawling suburban communities, fashionable downtown condos, and beautifully-restored residences in gentrified inner-city neighborhoods. There is soccer for the young ones, golf on the weekend, endless fashion mall shopping and a deaf ear to those unable to break through class barriers.
Lying is nothing new in public office. But there was a time when it had to be discovered and often resulted in shame, censure, or removal from office. With this administration documented to have purposely misled the public more than 10,000 times in about two and a half years, it’s clear that government deception has become an art form.
The truth is no longer expected and unscrupulous pseudo-leadership from the top man in the land, to the city dog catchers, look straight into the cameras without hesitation and ask the daunting question to media and the public, “What are you going to believe…me, or your lying eyes?”
Apparently, a great number of people in today’s society reject the “Heard It Through the Grapevine” lyric that says, “Believe half of what you see – and none of what you hear…” Politicians have become so bold that they will lie and then deny the lie, even when it is caught on camera.
It is a phenomenon certain to confuse those graduating with bachelor or graduate degrees, as they face options of taking a longer more ethical road to their eventual destination, or the more expedient but less principled shortcuts. This once was a no-brainer. Now students are forced to seriously weigh options in the context of a disreputable system.
They should never have been put into this predicament.
They are confused when 54 percent of women vote for a misogynist who boasts of assaulting females, when men and women give their lives in service to our great country then see leadership side with our enemies against U.S. intelligence, when it becomes a forgotten sidebar that this administration separates children from parents, then locks them in cages, and government ignores deteriorating infrastructure and our environment.
How can we expect graduates to be clear thinking when a buoyant economy takes clear precedence over lethal domestic terrorism snuffing out lives on our college campuses, places of business, public events, churches, mosques, and synagogues? Two students shot and killed this week at the University of North Carolina have sadly become a mere footnote of the times in which we live.
None of the aforementioned begin to address the brutal aftermath of catastrophes ignored by those in charge today or the lack of focus on improving the quality of life for the average man, woman, or child as opposed to making the rich get richer.
This is the bitter reality that will confront the graduating class of 2019 at universities from Bangor to Tucson, from Seattle to Ft. Lauderdale. Questions abound. Answers are few.
They have seen a Republican Party opt to abdicate all responsibility rather than challenge the incumbent bully and wannabe dictator. But the Democratic Party will not be able to simply take for granted that disdain for incumbency will translate into automatic support of the resistance. Democrats will have to earn the support of these “woke” young voters.
The field of Democratic candidates is the most diverse ever. It includes six women, two African Americans, a Latino and the second openly-gay man to run for a major party presidential nomination in history. While young people applaud the broad choices available, they adamantly contend they need more than race, gender or orientation to win their support.
The Class of 2019 will look at where candidates fall on the issues that they prioritize, and at those who offer the best strategies for sustainable change. According to a Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics poll, involving voters 18 to 29 years old, DACA and a path to permanent citizenship is supported by two-thirds of voters.
Immigration in general is a key issue, as well as more stringent gun laws and banning assault weapons. Significantly raising the minimum wage, arresting spiraling college costs and weighing student debt forgiveness are mentioned frequently as issues. Also ranking high among voters’ issues of concern are dealing with the opioid and addictive substance crisis, establishing a more equitable judicial system and better focus on climate control.
One finding is disturbing. That Harvard poll said 66 percent of young voters have more fear than faith in the future of democracy. While their skepticism is understandable, the truth is that the best possibility of sustaining democracy rests in their 2020 actions.
If they organize and vote consistent with their beliefs, we will see the same kind of change we enjoyed in 2018. If that enthusiasm doesn’t carry over into November of next year, four more years of the same ineptitude is virtually assured. College graduates and your peers, you hold the key. Please…do the right thing!
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.