Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Whiny Young Democrat's Response to a Whiny Old Democrat-- By Storyteller Knight

The following is a response to "Letter to a whiny young Democrat" written by a Mr. Mark Morford, for

(For pete’s sake, people.  It’s NaNo!  I have better things to do with my time than 1,000 word essays explaining to old people how young people think!)

Dear Mark Morford,

This isn't meant to be nasty and it's not my intention to start an argument with you (assuming you see it, which you probably won’t because you’re old and don’t frequent blogs.  Like how I’m young and don’t have an attention span beyond 140 characters).  I’m posting this over here because it feels weird to e-mail you 7 days after you posted your original article and I have no interest in getting an SFGate account so I can comment (I quite enjoy my next-to-nothing internet presence—see how bare it is?  I have to guest post on someone else’s blog).  I'm sure you've had a lot of angry people respond either in the comments or in e-mails giving you lists a mile long about why you're a ::insert creative insult here:: for ragging on the youth and not on the democratic party for making wet noodles look tough.  This is not one of those responses.  I respect your comments to us and for the most part agree.  We dropped the ball in this election.  There’s no arguing that fact.  But what I don't think you understand is that we actually don't care that we dropped the ball.

I voted in 2010, but I completely understand the mentality not to.  Because, to a lot of youth, all the candidates are actually the same.  Because we grew up in a different world than you did.  College is an insanely progressive landscape and each year it grows more so.  Each year brings in a class of students who grew up in a more diverse environment than the one before.  And then we exit college and enter the workforce and find ourselves in a world completely backwards of the one we grew up in.  It may seem to you that we're reaching for the moon with all this crazy, 22nd century progressive ideas.  But to us we're not.  To us this is normal.  

We know homosexuals deserve the rights and benefits of marriage.  We know that Muslims are people and deserve to be treated as such, not as terrorists.  We know that everyone deserves a chance at the American dream no matter what their economic background and shouldn't be labeled as lazy or worthless just because they weren't given the same chances, because they weren't afforded the same opportunities as those who have reached their dreams.  We know that we are on the verge of a catastrophic climate crisis and that waiting is no longer an option.  Note that these aren't things we believe in with the vague hope that we'll get there someday, maybe.  These are things we know, because that's how we grew up.  So when two candidates get up and one says 'no gay marriage' and the other says 'civil unions', what we hear is 'homosexuals are lesser citizens and undeserving of basic human rights' from both candidates.  When we hear 'no Ground Zero Mosque' from one candidate and 'maybe it would be smart to reconsider the location' from the other, what we hear from both is 'All Muslims are terrorist and can't be trusted to build a community center'.  When one party says 'tax cuts for the rich' and the other says 'maybe we can compromise on that point' we hear 'only the wealthy are deserving of the American dream'.  When one side says ‘climate change is a hoax’ and the other says ‘it will take 10 years to enact a comprehensive bill’, we hear ‘there is no evidence to suggest that we are out of time.’  Would you bother voting if both candidates were campaigning on the bases of a world you knew was wrong and unfair?

Voting for political candidates so very rarely changes the world for the better.  Grass roots organizing from the bottom up does so much more.  When the constituents raise their heads en mass and say 'no, this is wrong', I can guarantee you their representatives are going to agree with them, even if they originally campaigned that it was right.  Youth are well versed in working outside the political system to bring about change.  We don't care about the party and we don't care about the long view.  We care about doing what's right and clearly the way to get that done is to focus on building up from the bottom than to vote once every two years and then sit around on our thumbs waiting for politicians to change the law they already promised they weren't going to change.

We came out in droves in 2008 because Obama spoke to us.  He promised us that the law would reflect the world we had grown up in.  And since then, he has proven himself more interested in appeasing that weirder, dumber, backwards right.  If they are less interested in the world we grew up in than the republicans before them, why on earth should we believe compromising with them is a good idea?  Why should we support a party that has allowed the GOP to pull them backwards when they built their 2008 campaign on moving forwards?  For us, because of how we grew up and the way we see the world, the 2010 election proved not worth it. 

We don't want super!Jesus.  But we also don't want a president who is considered progressive by old world standards.  We want a president who is progressive by our standards.  We want a party with strong principles and beliefs that they stand up for and don’t back down from or concede when the other side puffs up its chest and calls them a mean name.  And if you think we’re whiny and selfish to remove ourselves from that system, that’s your prerogative and you are totally right that we lost the election for you.  Just realize that telling us ‘you should be grateful for the small changes that have already occurred, even though they don’t even come close to the world you grew up in, so get your ass over here and vote’ isn’t going to illicit any sort of response from us in 2012.  You only lose if you’re invested in the political system, and we’re not.    

As I said in my open letter to President Obama, if old democrats want our help in 2012 (and let’s face it, you need our help), you need to give us a reason to believe in the system.  We’re not interested in baby steps forward, because we’re already way ahead of you.  In a few short years, we will outnumber you and be able to vote down a gay marriage ban easily, with or without your system.  Our generation has proven time and time again that we don’t support the generalization of hate and/or fear and every generation that follows will continue prove this as well until acts of discrimination and bigotry are only propagated by a tiny, unwelcome minority.  We regularly volunteer and we take jobs to help others less fortunate than us.  And when no organization exists that focuses on the change we are looking for, we build it ourselves.  And we are building organic gardens, starting city bike programs, hosting the largest climate rallies in the history of climate change and doing everything else we can think of to educate about and mitigate the effects of climate change, because ten years from now is too late.

So if you want our vote in 2012, you had better take time to listen to us and consider that we have reasons for our actions beyond spite or laziness.  Youth activism isn’t dead, it just isn’t political.  Give a reason and we will put all that energy back into campaigning for democratic candidates again.  Because you’re right.  A lot can change in a few years.  But you’re not advocating for change.  You’re advocating for things to stay the same and for youth to get over it.  And that’s something we have no interest in doing.

tl;dr in < 140 characters: Why do the youth always have to compromise their ideals? Why can’t the old dying guys compromise for once instead?

~Storyteller Knight

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