by Beverly Eakman
January 2, 2012
First, the “it” girl. Followed in frenzied succession by a series of “it” hairdos, “it” fashions, songs, foods, even exercise regimens. Now comes the “it” year. The instant when everything changes.
My first up-close-and-personal experience with the “it” phenomenon occurred while sitting with a neighbor in a café over lunch the week before Christmas. Though this neighbor was never a close friend, given our wildly divergent political views, in America a long-time acquaintance can still be called a pal, of sorts, if not necessarily a confidante.
Then an odd thing happened—as if 2011 couldn’t get more bizarre than it already was, politically speaking. As the year chugged to a close, the “resident Commie”—that’s what many said behind the woman’s back, inasmuch as she once openly admitted to being a Marxist in those hippie-dippy, protest days of our 1960s youth—confided, to my astonishment, that she was leaving the “happening” lifestyle of our home in the Nation’s Capital for supposedly fairer fields in the Great Southwest.
“But why?” I asked, perplexed.
Because, she said, she “didn’t like the turn the lifestyle has taken here,” and she saw “no change in sight, regardless of who was elected.”
Blissfully unaware, apparently, that the District of Columbia and its surrounding bedroom communities exemplified the very lifestyle for which she had once demonstrated, marched and chanted slogans during our mutual coming- of-age years, which was the only time that really mattered back then, given that ours was on the cusp of becoming the “It Generation,” the Ones Who Changed the World—the disappointed, graying visage looking at me from across the table came as something of a shock. Instead of being a smug representative of the “It” generation, there was only “Me.”
Despite her multiple PhDs in cutting-edge disciplines such as women’s studies, political “science” and environmentalism, in my neighbor’s mind, the “Its” had accomplished next to nothing, leaving the “Me Generation” in charge.
Like most young people our age, I was never part of the “It” crowd, having stupidly declared a major for a financially responsible (and maybe even emotionally satisfying) career, looked around for (and gratefully found) Mr. Right, rewarded my parents with respectable, if not exactly stellar, grades and “ate my peas,” so to speak. Thus, I was mightily disturbed to hear that now, nearing retirement age, anybody at all was actually in charge, much less this “Me Generation.”
“It” was all very confusing… When did “It” turn into “Me”?
Was it merely “all so simple then,” as per the song from the tear-jerker film, The Way We Were, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford? Well, from the way my neighbor was now shaking her graying head, things certainly hadn’t turned out as expected: “Too many rules…,” she complained. “And surveillance cameras—can you believe it, @#$% surveillance EVERYWHERE?
Can’t even take your dog for a romp in the woods without some @#$% know-it-all pig snooping around making sure you have a baggie clipped to your belt! And no trash cans! All these taxes, and not a single @#$% garbage bin to dump your baggie full of droppings! Do they really think people want to walk for an hour in the great, green outdoors with a bag full of p_ _p in their hands? And speaking of TAXES! For what? The lights go out every time we have a little rain! I mean, this isn’t 1940! Aren’t we due a few upgrades for all this money we’re shelling out? And my prescriptions….”
By now neighbor’s voice had reached enough pitch to draw attention: “Do you believe that just two weeks after being hospitalized for a hysterectomy, my pharmacy gets grief from the frigging government over a two-bit bottle of pain medication! I mean, you’d think I was asking for crack, when all I wanted was a refill that my doctor had already approved!”
I smiled. In commiseration…among other things….
Any conservative voter looking around for a pep talk right about now either hasn’t got a clue as to the morass this nation has fallen into or—more likely—simply hasn’t the stomach for a fight and isn’t up to the job.
Deep down, all the “Me’s”out there, kids like me who were never “Its,” already know what needs to be done: that we need to throw a national hissy-fit. So, what’s stopping us?
The answer lies somewhere between what our highly educated betters call “peer conditioning” (a.k.a. “the herd mentality”)—a comfort zone we’ve all grown rather accustomed to, with “a little help from our friends” in the mental-hygiene movement—coupled to just the right combination of fatalism mixed with “Stockholm Syndrome.” That’s all our nation’s therapeutic propagandists, or maybe “minders” is the more appropriate term, need to keep us “in our place.” Your counselor (a.k.a. “therapist”) is your friend…just like the nice policeman of our youth used to be, an amiable being that can be trusted to tell us what to do, what to think, and who our candidates will be.
We have rules, after all, and we’re all equal under those rules…some, of course, more so than others (for openers, start with the forthcoming movie of Marion Barry, ruefully known locally and nationally as Washington, DC’s mayor-for-life, a man who still pontificates from his perch on the Washington’s city council, after being caught red-handed in a hotel room high on the most potent of illicit drugs—and with a prostitute, too).
The fact is, if you need to ask how to proceed in Election Year 2012, you don’t really want to know. Whether one wishes to admit it or not, the 60s and 70s-era classmates we knew variously as communists, Marxists, Leninists, Stalinists or just plain agitators and upstarts—were frequently connected in some way, knowingly or unwittingly, to the likes of priggish riffraff such as A. S. Neill (author of one of the first radical-chic texts on schooling); “campus organizers” like Herbert Marcuse (author of the free-love/anti-marriage tome Eros and Civilization); and rabble-rousing entertainers like the open Communist, Pete Seeger, or mega-vocalist Joan Baez; not to mention any one of dozens of professional manipulators posing as researchers, all disciples of old masters like Kurt Lewin, Emma Goldman, and Max Kallmann, now conveniently “lost” to a rewritten history. These pros knew exactly when and how to incite a riot.
In a twist of irony, it occurred to me, listening to my neighbor railing over lunch, that many of the superstars-cum-protestors we once so admired— unlike today’s glitterati (Christine Aguilera and Britney Spears come to mind) really could sing, and in perfect pitch, too—only now they would not be allowed to perform the songs of their heyday. Take one old favorite—“Stewball,” about a racehorse that died on the race track: PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has become so rabid that it would literally get poor Joan Baez booed off the stage before she’d strummed the first chord.
And woe be unto Simon & Garfunkel! Had the duo been starting out in the 21st century, they could kiss “Bridge Over Troubled Water” goodbye, what with its biblical allusions. As for the iconic 60s anthem “Michael”: Ya gotta be kidding, right? With its land of “milk and honey on the other side”? Only its ongoing popularity with die-hard aging Boomers has kept the song from the fate of “Dixie.” Speaking of which: the great Joan Baez, fantastic set of pipes or not, would never have made it past the auditorium door with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The word “Dixie,” in any context, is so politically incorrect today that it cannot be uttered.
The terms “husband,” “wife,” “fiancé,” and “spouse”are next on the chopping block; even TV ads refer to couples only as “partners,” giving the boot to the old Christmas standby, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”
What, then, of the “Me Generation”: those hopelessly nerdy outcasts of the 60s who were never “brave” enough, or “popular” enough, or self-serving enough to qualify for the “It” crowd?
Yet, back in the 60s we still were in the majority—on our way to independence, self-sufficiency, self-reliance—in no way outnumbered by the lefties. Unfortunately, press accounts pretended otherwise, so we didn’t know the truth. "Changes"… "they were a-comin," we were told.
So, we, the true “resisters,” if one could have called us that, threw in the towel instead throwing down the gauntlet.
Fast-forward 45 years: My neighbor and I, far-leftie and right-winger, together bewail a Transportation Security Administration “playing dress-up in uniforms and badges they did not earn,” as noted by Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn on December 15, the same week she introduced the Stop TSA’s Reach In Policy (STRIP) Act. A pretentious “security” force that has yet to catch a single terrorist, as per an editorial in The Washington Times, among other places. A likely precursor to Hitler’s SS, or Stalin’s KGB, or the dreaded Stasi, that our parents, dubbed the “Greatest Generation,” worked so tirelessly to ensure wouldn’t happen here. Now, “traffic”-cum-surveillance cameras are the stuff of my neighbor’s nightmares.
She will not escape them in the Great Southwest—no matter whether Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is elected. The Parties and the Big Media have decided who shall be our candidates— no matter who, technically, sits atop the heap.
Unless we do the unexpected. Unless we turn off the TV. Unless we stay focused and on-message, stop relying on the mostly phony polls, and re-acquaint ourselves with constitutional principles instead of feel-good promises.
Because this time the message we send is more important than the man (or woman) we “elect.” The game is this: If a Democrat wins, the nation moves sharply Left, no matter who promises what. If one of the “preferred” Republicans win (Executive or Legislative branch), then things will go along pretty much as they have, ever leftward, but more slowly, until the Democrats prevail again, in due course, at which point another sharp left turn can be expected, on and on, endlessly—until anything remotely patriotic, traditional or “conservative” is kaput.
Men and women of principle have to throw a serious monkey wrench into this little setup, and it has to be NOW.
So, turn off the Tube. Get your act together. Get serious. Just for one year: 2012.
Because this is really “It”!
Beverly K. Eakman began her career as a teacher in 1968. She left to become a scientific writer for a NASA contractor. She went on to serve as a former speechwriter for the Voice of America and for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger when he chaired the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. She was an editor and writer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice before retiring from federal government. She is now author of six books covering education policy, mental-health issues, data-trafficking and political strategy with dozens of keynote speeches, feature articles and op-eds to her credit. Her most recent works include A Common Sense Platform for the 21st Century and the 2011 Edition of her ever-popular seminar manual, How To Counter Group Manipulation Tactics (Midnight Whistler Publishers, 2010 and 2011, respectively).
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