Friday, October 21, 2016

A Lost Generation

Among the many things that I do not know how to do is how to accurately calculate a generation.  A quick check of various resources on-line yesterday did as much to further confuse the issue for me as it did to resolve it.  Based on a number of pieces at which I looked, including the one linked to here, it appears that when being measured for family purposes, anywhere from twenty to twenty-five years is an acceptable answer. 

I mention that today in this space because of two things that occurred the other night in Las Vegas, Nevada at the third and final Presidential debate.  First, the two candidates once again did not shake hands before the start of the debate.  Second, during the debate the Republican candidate repeated his claim/assertion that the election shall be "rigged" and refused to acknowledge that if he fails to win the White House, then he shall accept the results.  A remarkable night to be sure...and I do not mean "remarkable" in a good way.  

Perhaps Chris Wallace should have asked the Republican nominee, after the latter declared that he shall keep the nation "in suspense" with respect to his acceptance of an adverse outcome on Election Day whether he had bothered to notice the debate stage's backdrop, either the six words themselves or the imagery in which they were contained, and whether he believed in the sentiment behind them and represented by them. 

"The Union and the Constitution Forever"

In 1992, William Jefferson Clinton took incumbent President George Herbert Walker Bush out behind the Electoral College woodshed, capturing almost 70% of the electoral votes.  It was a loss that stung not only President Bush but his family.  Yet, two and one-half months later, as his successor prepared to take the oath of office, President Bush wrote a short letter to President Clinton, which letter he left on the President's desk in the Oval Office, which in the event that your eyesight is as poor as mine now is, the Huffington Post has transcribed in easy-to-read, large-sized type.

The letter that President Bush wrote to President Clinton, with whom (by all accounts) he has continued to enjoy a warm relationship, which relationship President Clinton also enjoys with the "other" President Bush (#43), and with whom he has worked on a number of causes and projects in the years since each man left the White House, was written less than twenty-four years ago.  Within the span of a generation - a period of time in which we the people of these United States have made extraordinary advances in countless different industries and fields - we have apparently regressed with frightening speed in this most critical of areas.   

Make no mistake either.  Whether this year's major-party candidates (or simply one markedly more than the other) repulse you or fascinate you, invigorate you or sicken you, there are not too many of us of the adult persuasion who do not have at least a trace amount of blood on our hands owing to their existence.  By and large, whether we realize it or not, we the people end up with the candidates for national office who we have chosen.  

To have reached this point in time in this particular election cycle, and to have secured the nomination of the party, the Democratic Party's nominee and the Republican Party's nominee had to compile more votes than their respective rivals did during the seemingly-endless primary process.  Is the last person standing on either side in this cycle - or in any cycle for that matter - the "best" qualified person to be President?  Not necessarily so.  He or she is, simply and critically, the person who garnered the most votes, which in turn secured enough delegates to be awarded the nomination at the National Convention.  Those votes came from somewhere.  If not from you or from me, then perhaps from a co-worker, a neighbor, or a spouse.  

We lament the death of the "best and the brightest" candidates for public office and gasp in horror at the diminution of the election of this nation's President to a high-school student government level popularity contest.  But should we really be surprised?  I know not of a nutritionist or a physician anywhere who will advise a patient that a Big Mac is better for his health than Brussels sprouts. But there is not a McDonald's in this country that would have a "Billions and Billions Served" banner outside of its front door if the latter - and not the former - was its signature menu item.  We the people cannot always be trusted to do that which is best for us.  It is a character flaw that has dogged us since it was just Eve, Adam, and an apple.    

May we find our collective footing to ensure that declarations such as those made by the Republican nominee on Wednesday night remain the exception and that those such as the one made by President Bush (#41) to President Clinton remain the rule.  For if we do not, then we may in fact ensure that in the not-too-distant future there shall be no more words to write.  


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