THEY’VE STOLEN OUR VOICES
I believe that the voice of my generation has been silenced. For all of the media hype about the “Baby Boomers,” since we have been old enough to be in charge, the nation has been following men and women who speak as if they were born not in a particular time, but outside of time. How else to explain George W. Bush who as a part of the first group of Baby Boomers to turn sixty appears never to have experienced any of the social discord and exhilaration that were the sixties?
The sixties touched me peripherally as I worked my way through teachers college and settled into a career and a marriage. I enjoyed the music, came to hate the war, embraced the belief of equality for all. For a while, I smoked and inhaled marijuana. And, I waited for my parents’ generation to pass so that the voices that were my generation could begin to speak effectively.
I believe in the voices of my generational cohort. We have come far in the fight for real equality among men and women of all races. Somehow, however, along the way, we have become mute. Today, those who speak for us believe in none of the things that we Baby Boomers talked about in our youth. The environment? Our leaders believe nature exists to be exploited for the good of industry. Education? Our leaders make mandates designed to hurt the most needy of students, raise the cost of a college education, tighten the nation’s collective belt when it comes time to offer loans for education. Equal Rights and fairness? We are building a 700 mile fence along our southern border and repealing taxes on the wealthy. Elder care? The cry to privatize social security and limit public health care has not been silenced.
In the past fourteen years, we have sent three legitimate voices of our generation into the fray of national politics. Bill Clinton, once elected, was vilified, his rise from working class roots to president ridiculed. Al Gore, morally clear and intellectually unimpeachable, was presented as a geek, a spoiled intellectual less compelling than his wise-cracking opponent. John Kerry, a legitimate war hero, was slimed, turned into a liar and a scoundrel, again men who had done far less than.
When we Baby Boomers were young, much was made of the callowness of our voices, of the unrest we were sowing. Those were mistakes of youth. Today, when we have matured enough to make a real difference, when our voices have taken on the deep bell tones of wisdom, we are effectively silenced by loud-mouths who, despite their age, profess to be spokesmen and women of eternal verities. These are people for whom raping the environment, dismantling imperatives toward equality and ripping apart the New Deal and the social contract it assured make great sense.
These people may be speaking, but their voices are not mine or yours. Who, exactly, is talking for us?
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