“The stakes don’t get any higher…”
It was election night in 1976, and the President’s National Campaign staff was gathered in ballrooms and suites at the Shoreham hotel in Washington, awaiting the results. Mike, one of the most upbeat and respected members of my field team had just, at a moment when the room had suddenly fallen quiet, quietly uttered those words.
They filled the room.
Those words come to mind, this morning, as I look out on the virtual battlefield that America seems to have become (and may yet become quite real, tonight and in the days to come). The stakes to which Mike was referring now seem so distant, so innocent in comparison, almost naive in their articulation.
The two parties weren’t separated by the steaming, molten chasm that separates them – separates us – today.
The rhetoric, in retrospect, was far more respectful and positive as parties touted the benefits, power and assurances of positive results in the achievement of what were much more goals-in-common.
This past year…this past administration…has been rife with the shouting-down of opposition, of frightening citizens with Cassandraic hyperbole and threats of the end of an “America” that has become Balkanized by spectacular self-interest as reflected in our leadership and laws, by the fear and panicked anger of vast segments of our population who sense looming an end to a way of life and are now seeking someone or something to blame for it other than the relentless inevitability of cultural and technological evolution.
Evolutions for which our educational systems have not prepared our citizens; the taking care of which it is no secret that our country is not committed to taking care.
I am eminently trepidatious about today, tonight and the future.
Although, stepping back; I perceive, below the sturm und drang of political party rhetoric, an inexorable forward cultural enlightenment taking place.
I can only speak from my perspective; though since Marriage Equality became reality in the US (and may it ever remain so), I have sensed and seen an enlightened cultural evolution seeming to manifest more and more rapidly among the aspirational generations.
After Marriage Equality, it seems the dominoes began to fall with increasing rapidity, and theretofore peripheral issues and people began to surface and speak and be heard. Transgender, transexual, nonbinary, genderqueer: what seems an ever-increasing spectrum of pronouns and titles for us to keep abreast as individuals self-identify, appear and add ever more facets and colors to our societies.
It’s wonderfully exciting to see all this taking place.
At the same time, the Gen X’s, Millennial and post-Millennial generations (Gen Y, Gen Next, iGen, Gen Z…) seem to me to share a powerful and pervasive ethos of a higher integrity and openness perhaps than those who came before. These generations seem, in my experience, adamant in support of diversity, equality, transparency in business and politics (watch out, Dinosaurs!) and above all a commitment to the planet and the people on it…far more than any generations that preceded.
They almost seem predisposed to vocal activism. (Perhaps a generalization, as are so many such assessments, but in this case I think far more apt than most.)
(See “The Boomennial Age”.)
Concurrently, the power of movements born of these Thinkers has already altered the fabric of our society.
Scores, hundreds more movements and responses to societal and human rights wrongs do not go unaddressed. And my sense is that the pressure will only increase and continue.
Another few years and I think we may yet see a profound revamping of our political systems. Whatever happens, today… If we do sink, should we hit the feared nadir, I believe could possibly be the Last Time. On the brighter possibility; if the voters do turn aside the tide of hate, today; it may very will be the beginning of aggressively reformed society: reformed by the coming of age of a majority of New Thinkers who truly want the world to be a better place.
And they are willing to put themselves on the line for it.
And, by the way, how about The Pope! Gay people “…have a right to a family.” Muse on that for awhile.
So, yes. I am worried about today. But, the tearful, anxious, impassioned faces of young people on all platforms is heartening to me with what may happen today, and will happen tomorrow. With that, I remain hopeful; and if we are defeated, I am in hopes it will be this one, last time.
The clean-up will be immense; it will be cleaned up.
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