I know we’re all tired–even those of us who are tired and happy–of election news. But, don’t worry, this post really isn’t about the election, or the transition, or any of the characters involved in the beast henceforth referred to as The Great Awakening, part 3 (TGA3); however, it is written in the context of TGA3, or more specifically, the reaction of some people to TGA3.
There’s a lot of noise out there right now. Some of it justified, some of it just downright silly. I don’t agree with about 99% of the things being said, chanted, sung, and written about by people who are currently in the throes of absolute desolation at the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. While I have no hard evidence to support this contention, I suspect that the majority of, or close to a majority of the folks protesting don’t really even know why they’re protesting. I also suspect that a good number of the people protesting didn’t bother to go vote on Tuesday. But, I will make a few concessions to them:
1. Losing an election sucks!
2. Losing an election you were sure you’d win sucks even more!
3. Losing the Electoral College vote while winning the popular vote must be downright devastating!
That’s how our country works, though. Every four years we go vote for president–only, we’re not really voting for president. We’re voting to send electors to vote for president on our behalf. Each state has the same number of electors that it has representatives in Congress. So, technically, there is not ONE national presidential election, but rather there are 50 individual state elections. Without going into a long and drawn out explanation of why the founders instituted the Electoral College, suffice it to say that they worried that a Direct Democracy (a popular election) would tear the country into what James Madison referred to as “factions” devoted to individual causes rather than the good of the country–what we might now call “special interest groups.” Madison wrote that he feared these groups would, “sacrifice to [their] ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens” (Federalist 10). So, right or wrong, they devised the Electoral College as a buffer against such a problem. However, in all of our now 45 presidential elections, there have only been four times when a candidate won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. TGA3 is the fourth.
But, I get it. People are mad; they’re hurt; they’re sad, and for whatever reason, some of them are actually scared. They’ve taken to the streets to protest the fact that they feel their voice has not been heard. That is their absolute inviolable right (so long as they remain peaceful), and I will defend that right on their behalf. Some of them–okay, most of them–are saying that Trump is not their president. That is also their right. I get the sentiment because, in all honesty, if Hillary Clinton had won, I would’ve had trouble accepting her as mine given how she said she feels about people like me. So, by all means, protest. Yell. Scream. Cuss. Cry if you must. I don’t agree with you, but I support your right to do it.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s the open letter part…
Dear Fellow Gen Xers,
There they go again; those Millennials, constantly throwing temper tantrums when they don’t get their way and running for their safe spaces when someone says something they disagree with or find offensive. Aren’t they being silly? And, aren’t they overreacting to this election because their candidate didn’t win?
They were absolutely inconsolable at what was supposed to be Secretary Clinton’s victory party on Tuesday night…
Their schools, colleges, and universities are offering counseling, therapy pets, and arts & crafts as means by which to “cope” with the trauma. Some professors are delaying or cancelling tests, assignments, midterms, and making class attendance optional for students who might feel too overwhelmed to show up.
They’re in the streets chanting, waving signs, burning flags, defecating on vehicles, assaulting innocent people…protesting, though some of them don’t seem to know why and some of them are obviously uninformed…
They just can’t believe that something they wanted was not handed to them on Tuesday night simply because they wanted it. Now, they’re throwing the biggest temper tantrum (what my grandmother called a “hissy fit”) in the streets, thinking I suppose that, once again, crying and screaming will get them what they want; that if they scream loud enough someone will say, “Oh, okay. Well, here, we’ll make Hillary president for you.” How on earth did they get this way? What made them think that they could always get what they want if they just cry hard enough?
LOOK IN THE MIRROR!
This one is on us–Gen Xers–it’s our fault!
Why, you ask? Because that’s what we taught them as they were growing up. They are the products of our well-intentioned, but terribly delusional efforts to protect them from all possible pain and heartache. We gave them participation trophies when they didn’t win so that they wouldn’t feel left out. We put them in sporting events, but didn’t keep score because the competition was too harmful. We sent them to schools where zeroes weren’t permitted; where grades weren’t given; and where each student was told that he or she could be whatever he or she wanted to be when they grew up…even when it wasn’t true. We coddled them at home and gave into whining and crying and screaming and throwing themselves on the floor because we didn’t want them to hate us the same way we hated our parents. . .
. . .and therein lies the problem.
We, Gen Xers, are the generation of slackers. We are the generation of moody malcontents who blamed every mistake, misstep, and misfortune on our parents. We are the generation of split families and latchkey kids. We are the generation that grew up feeling left out because, while we were going through our teenaged years, everybody around us was concerned with kids and the elderly. We are the “MTV Cribs” generation that wanted everything shiny that we saw, and when we figured out that we couldn’t have it without working hard, we sat down and we sulked and we blamed our parents for no really good reason. So, when we started having kids, BY GOD we weren’t going to make them suffer the way we did! Our kids would have the very best of everything whenever, wherever, and however they wanted it no matter how much money it took or how many trips to the school to complain we had to make! They were our babies!
And now…they are our problem!
Oh, to be sure, Millennials own the responsibility for their actions, I’m not saying they don’t. But, it’s us–Gen Xers–their parents who own the responsibility for their mindset. We are the ones who taught them that everybody is a winner at everything they do every time they do it. That is on us!
So, the next time you catch yourself shaking your head in disbelief or disappointment, wagging your finger, wondering out loud how so many people could behave so badly because they didn’t get their way, find the nearest mirror and check out the face staring back at you. We have done a terrible disservice to these young people by leading them to believe that the big, bad world cares one iota about their feelings. We’ve done them a terrible disservice by leading them to believe that they can be whatever they want, and that they can have whatever they want, because it’s just not true. Shame on us!
A fellow Gen Xer
PS – There is some good news. Most likely, most of them will grow out of it when they grow up a little more. After all, we did.