The world is changing. The masses are no longer willing to allow white males to play the game of life, as one woman phrased it, ‘on the easy setting’. The conservative elements of US society are not handling this changing America well. In grade school, we jumped under our little desks practicing for nuclear attack. Ever present were white male leaders being strong. They sent us to wars relying on a compliant population and the draft. The draft was the tipping point.
Serving in the military during the Vietnam and Cold wars, I really expected our male leadership to go out with a huge, nuclear bang. Thankfully, my expectation seems in error. White, male dominance in the US is going out with a whimper, a whine, and screams of rage that the system is rigged and life is not fair. Destroyed by Donald J Trump and his allies.
President Obama said Tuesday that Donald J. Trump should “stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”
“I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts.”
Historic barriers do not come down easily or neatly. Coming out of a major world war, society sought and created a stable, hierarchal society following the turmoil of war. Women were driven from their jobs in every sector and into the home. Men were expected to work. Women were expected to be ‘homemakers’. Government, industry and religious leaders were respected and obeyed with little push back or question.
But this stability contained the very seeds of its destruction: education. Large numbers of young soldiers returning from World War II attended college and went on to change the world. Their children, the baby boom generation, came along with them and the colleges had the infrastructure to educate both men and women. The greatest threat any education poses to a system is teaching people to ask the question: why. Youth asked why and opened US society to vast change and greater freedom for all.
Raised to expect opportunity and equipped with the tools to grasp it, the baby boom generation continued the equal rights work started by the greatest generation. In the United States, everyone deserved equal opportunity to succeed. The established power structures in government and religion demanded the status quo. They lost every battle. The respect and power of institutions crumbled along with their integrity. Asking why came with costs.
White male leadership struggled to survive last century. The baby boom generation blew it up. Our generation, Trump’s and mine, fought the battles to end segregation and increase equality for all. We entered space, expanded lifespans, reduced global violence (yes, the world is a much less violent place) and helped knock down minority barriers held in place since the nation’s founding. Modern youth were not going to war without great reason.
Also, America’s youth fought foreign wars bravely and fought domestic wars at home to end the draft and a suffocating societal demand for conformity. Products of our upbringing, we made mistakes and struggled. It was a learning process that continues today. The best of our generation gave their all to create a better world. Conservative pushback was strong.
In the face of continuing change and turmoil, conservatives decried change as wrong. The old conservative mantra going back to loyalist and Confederate days of strong military, strong religion and strong leaders did not and does not give up easily. America is still saddled with the high costs for these conservative failures.
Massive military overspending coupled with a never ending demand for more, while social and physical infrastructure collapses from lack of maintenance and modernization is but one example. Lamentations over the loss of ‘moral fiber’ and preaching to return to a god whose preachers lost much credibility denying evolution, biology, and science. Even today, attempts to maintain beliefs proven wrong are transforming many religious leaders into silly old men.
For it is men fighting back hardest. Conservative men demanding a return to a period that never existed except in myth and on television. The men who are unable to accept that a nation is stronger because of equality. That everyone, men, women and minorities of nearly every stripe, bring a resilience and strength to society that is difficult to deny.
Many conservatives forget that perhaps our greatest military victory was never fought on the battlefield. The structured, inflexible Soviet Union spending massive amounts on defense was unable to compete successfully with the prosperity generated by diversity and flexibility. We in the military provided a strong shield to defend a society that crushed opposition by embracing education, diversity and change.
Donald Trump represents the type of conservative leader offered this century as an answer – old white men fat on privilege and thin on capability. Unless the US electorate loses its collective mind this election, Donald Trump and his ilk will find no solace in our society. They will not be missed.