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Monday November 20th 2017

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One Teacher’s Vote

Lately I’ve been writing a lot about the latest generation– or, those under 30. I like to think of it as My Generation. We are the generation after Generation X, who came after the Baby Boomers. There are no perfectly agreed upon dates and names for these things. Those of us born after 1980 could be called the Hip-Hop Generation. When I talk about this generation, I am talking about those of us born in large metropolises with cultural diversity on all corners. I’m talking about kids born in our modern cities. Whatever we are called, we seem to be changing a lot of things about American culture.

For example, when we are all parents and have kids of our own, gay rights will exist, and we will look back upon these current times in pity and disgust, and wonder how people could ever be so closed-minded. This is just like we look back on the Civil Rights era of Martin Luther King Jr. today. Fifteen-year-olds today have gay friends, favorite gay characters on television, and wonder what the big deal is. Our generation will eventually define tolerance, if only because we have grown up with friends of every race, religion, and sexual orientation.

With the vote coming up, I feel like I should at least mention a few things about the direction our country is headed. As always, my reference point is from that of an educator. So as I warily observe the upcoming elections, I have to wonder how it is going to affect my job, and education in general. For me, the answer is simple- any vote for a Republican or Tea-Party Candidate would be disastrous.

First let me say this: I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I guess you could call me an Independent. That is another thing about our generation. We don’t see either party aligning too much with how we see things. True, Barack Obama is the first politician we really trust, but that’s only because he doesn’t even seem like the rest of his own party.

Our very beings don’t seem to align with anything Democrats in the middle or Republicans on the right say. I’m just being honest. I don’t see how giving multi-millionaires more tax breaks than the rest of us is fair. I just don’t. I don’t think a corporation is a person. Maybe I’m the crazy one, but I also don’t think they should be able to donate unlimited funds to political campaigns. In fact, here is something startling: My generation doesn’t think ANY corporations should be able to donate money to ANY POLITICIAN.

Call us crazy.

We see politics just like it is: A bunch of rich people representing the interests of the corporations who paid for their campaigns. We understand, and have always understood how that could be a major conflict of interest when governing a country though. We wonder how things got so corrupt, why anyone accepts this, or condones it with a vote for the status quo.

Actually, the whole idea of maintaining the status quo is ridiculous to us. Why oh why would ANYONE want things to stay the way they are? 97 percent of the wealth in this country is in the hands of 3 percent of the people. We find that unacceptable. If you don’t think we need change, then you aren’t paying attention. We’re paying attention, and we want things to get better for most people, not some.

Look, I’m not averse to giving praise where praise is due. I would give Republicans props right away if I heard them give a good idea. Tax cuts for rich people are not it. Thinking that Health Care was going great before Obama is the opposite of what we saw our entire lives. We’re sorry but that’s how we feel. We’ve seen Obama propose answers, and we’ve seen people on the right refuse to GOVERN our country and instead seem focused on destroying the one guy we elected to lead. Who is listening to the will of the people? Maybe the only people they pay attention to aren’t exactly people, they are Corporations who they now can call people.

As a teacher in a low-income school, and as a member of the latest generation, I’m just trying to show you how things seem to us. If you disagree with me, that’s fine, but I will say that I try and try to listen to those who are for maintaining the status quo, and pushing it farther to the right. I watch Fox News. I am overtly interested in what all sides have to say. I hear what Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity say, and I really have to tell you, they seem more than a little bit out of touch, and more than a little pompous and crazy. Nothing they say resonates with anything I’ve seen in my life, growing up in a multicultural city of 150,000 people from all parts of the world, going to college, and teaching at a low-income high school. Quite the contrary, what people like Beck and Hannity say all sounds very incendiary and dangerous.

As a teacher, I am very worried about this upcoming election. If Republicans get the kind of gains their pundits are claiming, I know things will get worse for me. I know it. They will cut funding to our schools- they always do. Things are going to get even harder. Not just for teachers, but for all of us.

As part of the newer generation, I will say if Republicans want our vote, they need to fracture and head in a different direction. They rightly feel they are losing their grip on American Society, and this Tea-Party rise is their desperate attempt to gain it back. Unfortunately for Republicans, what they don’t realize is their party needs to go the other way if they want to get our votes. Our generation isn’t going to vote for a group even farther to the right of Republicans. What the Tea Party should have been was a faction that moved the Republicans a little to the left. Then they might have been able to still pretend they are representing the best interests of regular people. But the party fractured the other way, and they are now alienating themselves even more from the youth who will very soon be of voting age, and those of us who already are.

For those of us paying attention, we know the Great Recession was not Barack Obama’s fault- and there is nothing anyone can say that will ever convince us it was. In fact, 70% of Americans agree with this- Republicans and Democrats alike. We see how our country avoided the worst of it, and has been growing for 9 months. It doesn’t make any sense to us why you would vote against all this progress for the people who did get us into this mess.

Call us crazy.

If the Republicans make the gains predicted, just watch to see what happens to our country. It isn’t going to be pretty. Now I’m not going to go all doomsday like the screamers and criers on television. We are more into John Stewart’s call for reason than the calls for panic from everyone else. I will just say that things are going to slowly fall apart. It won’t be the end of all things, but it will get worse if you aren’t a rich person. As a teacher, I know I have tough times to look forward to, as if things aren’t tough enough as it is.

Why is it that no one has asked us who we’re going to vote for with mid-term elections coming up? I’m thirty, and I’ve never had a land-line. Remember, everyone younger than me hasn’t either. Nobody conducting any of these polls has talked to a single one of us. We’re Independents, but the only Independents anyone references in the media are those far, far to the right. We’re far to the left, but our lack of voice in the polls seems to be directly related to owning a phone that has to be plugged into a wall at all times.

My generation will always be left of the status quo. That is how we feel. We want rights for all people. We want the wealth redistributed so that 97 percent of the wealth isn’t in the bank accounts of 3 percent of the people. Call us crazy, but we are saying things like, “Damn, can we get that down to, like, 90-10? Can I get 10 percent?” Progressive politics says it all in the name. We want progress, and we want it to head to the left. That isn’t to say we are communists. We like capitalism. But we also think there needs to be a balance between the two, and right now the status quo is too far to the right.

Of course, we’re going to have to wait a couple more years for that to happen. The right will make gains expected this Tuesday, but by the time Obama is up for re-election, they’ll have made such a mess, they will almost guarantee he is re-elected. Despite how it seems now, the four-year cycle will ultimately be on our side.

Remember, I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. And most of us don’t see things so starkly one-sided. But we don’t want to maintain the status quo- we want to go left of there, so that life is better for most people, not some.

Maybe that’s what our name will ultimately be. Generation Left.

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