My unabashed idealism and liberal enthusiasm will soon be leaving me, so I’m told. You see, I’m a senior, and in May I’ll leave my sheltered world at an elite university; soon I will become an in touch working man who will have to pay taxes. As I start a family, I will realize that big governments are evil and wish only to drown away my individual endeavors in favor of those who are undeserving.
Of course, my leftist ideology will soon become my elitist perspective if I choose to stay true and blue. I will look down on everyone else and tell them what is best for them, how they feel and why they deserve my sympathy. Furthermore, I will be out of touch with reality! That truly is a shame, considering I do enjoy living in reality so much, what with rising oil prices, temperatures and death tolls. I shouldn’t dare imagine what could be, when I should be squarely concerned with what currently is. Idealism is my passing infatuation.
It’s extremely strange that well-educated liberals are elitists, blue-collar liberals are middle-class working families, well-educated conservatives are business-minded, and less-educated conservatives are one of many things (hicks or compassionate Christians among them). The problem with the labels being tossed at all of us, besides the fact that I doubt they’ll stick, is that they compartmentalize and generalize specific people.
I’ll throw out my own generalization. Thanks to George W. Bush, I’m comfortable saying Generation Y could be one of the most liberal generations in decades. It’s that type of comfortable when you’re down two, but have Michael Jordan for the last minute of the game – it is really just 99 percent positive. No matter what background the current generation comes from, we basically refuse to sit back and watch the world grow ‘corrupter,’ bloodier and – perhaps most dangerously of all – warmer. That is, of course, if we haven’t already been consumed by the ‘family’ label.
For our generation, labels won’t make any sense (not that they really did before). Political gaming, I understand, will always exist, but at what point does the electorate stop listening to the soundbytes and start looking at deeper actions and thoughtful rhetoric?
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) may very well be an elitist in any narrow reading of the term. Yet he has donors in extreme numbers, now around 1.5 million. These people all stand for disciplined principles that are not and should not be trivialized.
So while the media may call Obama elite for his remarks a few days ago, they should recognize that describes a small part of the man. Obama should have been more careful than to label the people he was talking about as uneducated religion-clingers. Because beyond being poor politics, it is a poor characterization of a group of people much more diverse than politics will allow for.
We may very well be more liberal than the baby boomers before us. Yet if we want to go out and accomplish real change, we might have to just shed the term liberal altogether. We all have different priorities but we share a common desire, and if we’re too busy focusing on our differences (blue or white-collar, lower or upper tax bracket, Star Wars or Star Trek) we won’t be able to meld together to properly cooperate to become the greatest generation – an inclusive, deserved label.
The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.