In yesterday's piece where I talked about learning from Bernie and Barney, I talked about something that might be a foreign idea, one that you'll never hear discussed in political discourse, or in history textbooks, the idea that the US is an Asshole Nation.
When my generation was young, in the 70s, we believed fairness was the natural state of things. We marched, and worked for candidates that would make America virtuous. To live up to what we had been taught in school. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Reality is very different -- this is the country that wiped out Native Americans and enslaved African-Americans. We were taught about slavery in school, but that was some shit people in the South did, not us in the north. Only later did we learn that the remnants of slavery were very much alive in the North, and btw, NYC where I grew up was the port of entry for the slaves, so we did it too. This wonderful city was built on the profits of slavery.
Thing is when you're young, your world is small, at least for most. You have Mom and Dad and some siblings, cousins, friends, teachers, classmates, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the TV characters -- who were always nice, even when they were assholes they were lovable assholes.
Fairness, if not always there, was at least something you could strive for.
Later in life you learn something awful that fairness is not attainable.
Sorry. I hated to learn that when I was young. Maybe I had a sense of it because I was born into a family of refugees, and I had a ruptured appendix when I was 10, and came very close to dying. Or maybe beneath it all I believed it was fair, because I survived childhood, after all. And I did go marching in the streets when I was young, there must have been a reason for that.
So when Hillary says things that sound cynical to the child's ear (I still have that child inside me btw, I remember) the adult ear knows she's right. Maybe that's why she appeals to African-Americans who have to deal with the reality that law enforcement sees them not as innocent citizens first, but guilty until proven innocent. Maybe if you're there, you don't strive for perfection, you'll accept just being relatively safe in your own neighborhood for starters.
The truth is progress will be incremental. Bernie is at least suggesting it can happen all at once, I also am very sure that at age 74 he knows it's nonsense. These are all things that Hillary can't say in a debate, if she does the press will eat her alive as will the Bernie Trollers on the Internet. Aside from that he's already convinced you she's not to be trusted, so you don't even listen to her.
But I can say it, I'm not running for anything, and I love all you young people for your optimism, hold on to it, you'll need it. But let's be smart! Let's set long-term objectives, let's make the changes we want to see, carefully, along with people from all parts of the country and let's not make disappointment, which is imho what Mr Sanders is selling.