Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Perspective of Age

I don't like getting older.  But one thing the time I've spent living my life has given me is perspective.  I say this because I'm steaming about the lack of perspective, education if you will, of the 30 somethings and those of the tea bagging, birther, Christianist, ilk that think the United States is going to hell in a hand basket.

These "new wave" conservatives throw around the word socialism the way their Republican compatriots of the past used the word communism.  It's the same thing with the Tea Party.  I believe a handful of folks involved in this movement are truly concerned with the out of control spending by our federal government, but many more of these folks would have been just as comfortable at a cross burning 50 years ago.

Our country has a lot of problems.  Our education system is in the toilet.  Schools have stopped teaching the three R's and now teach kids how to pass proficiency tests.  The problems started with the formation of the Department of Education back in the 1970's and the spate of unfunded federal mandates that forced our schools to add layer upon layer of bureaucracy that does nothing to advance the education of our children.

Now I'm looking at it from the perspective of a news manager with 20 years of experience at hiring.  The difference from 1991 when I made my first hire in the quality of journalists coming out of college to 2006 when I made my last hire is shocking.  I hired young people right out of school.  The 1990's versions knew how to spell, had a decent knowledge of how government and the courts worked, and knew that hard work was their ticket to advancement.  15 years later these graduates had a shocking sense of entitlement.  There lack of general knowledge was shocking.  I was lucky in that during my last gig as a news director I was able to find some exceptional young people, but everything I hear from my friends still in the business it's only gotten worse.

What struck this nerve was a Facebook posting by a friend who had gone to see Karl Rove.  It touched off a pretty interesting debate.  One of the respondents went on a rant right out of the Rush Limbaugh/Karl Rove/Dick Cheney playbook.  One of the more interesting revisions of this person's history was that George Bush wasn't a conservative.  Gee, that's not what Republicans were saying in 2000.  I even voted for him in 2000.  But then he started a war in Afghanistan that he ignored in favor of another war that we didn't need to fight in Iraq.  He bankrupted our economy fighting these wars.  His administration did more to stifle our civil liberties in eight years than any previous administration in the last 60 years.

The other one that struck me was a another rambling respondent who thought that our founding fathers were Godly men who based the founding of this country on capitalism and the Bible.  It just made me chuckle.  I think Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison would be shaking their heads at this notion.  We're a constitutional Republic in which one of the major tenants is the separation of church and state.  It amazes me that people that decry any efforts to stifle gun ownership seem to forget the church and state section of the Bill of Rights.

I never thought I would see the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I never thought I would see Republicans control Congress.  I lived to see both things.  Now I'm witnessing the self-immolation of the Republican party.  It's going to be really interesting to see if the GOP can survive the assault of the Christianists, tea baggers, and birthers.  I long for the Republican party of Barry Goldwater, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole.  I fear those days are long gone.  My goodness, I'm old and cranky.  

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