These are troubling times for those that came of age during the explosion of the “counter-culture” during the 1960s. Nearly half a century later, aging flower children are wondering whatever happened to giving peace a chance or the anticipated dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
Sixties children fervently hoped for an era of harmony and understanding. We might have settled for a measure of tolerance for diversity. Instead, we have watched our political discourse devolve into the acrimony and belligerence of a deeply divided nation.
Once the centerpiece of our democracy, the ability of liberals and conservatives to arrive at compromise has fallen victim to the cause of partisan political victory at any cost, the common welfare be damned.
This nation survived the intolerance and fearmongering of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (thanks, in no small part, to the reporting of Edward R. Murrow). We heard President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about ceding control of the social agenda to the military industrial complex. In recent decades, however, acts of war appear to have become our first response instead of our last resort.
Following the horrors experienced during World War II, the babyboomers matured during the conflict on the Korean peninsula. Not long after the Korean conflict, our nation was mired in another protracted land war in Vietnam with no clear mission or exit strategy. Our political system has never recovered.
Will we now elect, to the highest office in the land, the candidate who avoided military service by a diagnosis of ‘heel spurs?’ Forget for a moment that he affirms his love of war or that he belittles an honored veteran of that war who endured five years of torture as a prisoner-of-war.
Could a majority of Americans choose the candidate that advocates in favor of the proliferation of nuclear weapons? Forget for a moment that he declined to rule out tactical first use and wondered why we should limit their use to strategic deterrence.
Is it really possible that our nation stands poised to elect a bellicose oligarch with an unhealthy love for authoritarian figures? Forget for a moment that he declines all entreaties to share his tax records or that his record suggests indifference, if not hostility, to the causes of labor.
Might a candidate who proclaims his love of country by expressing his disdain for most of its inhabitants hope to gain a plurality at the polls? Forget for moment that he is a self-confessed playboy who demonstrates callous disregard of others.
We must not give the keys to the White House to a spiritually-challenged individual who has for decades pridefully channeled his inner Jacob Marley. Let him forge his chains elsewhere.