You know by now that the current most popular internet-campaign-gone-viral (over 2 million YouTube channel views at last count) is in response to a nationwide spate of bully-provoked gay teen suicides.
“It Gets Better” is the genuinely-felt message that online video posters – ranging from celebrities like Gloria Estefan to President Obama, to ordinary people – are attempting to convey.
At the risk of seeming brutally insensitive, I shall throw a bucket of warm spit on this naïve reassurance to America’s youth.
The inconvenient truth, American youth, is: Sometimes things get worse before they get better. Or – worse – don’t get better at all.
Sometimes life is replete with bullies hell-bent on making your and my lives as uncomfortable as they can possibly succeed at engineering. Sometimes we go to school with them. Or work alongside them, or for them. Or live with them.
And – all too plenty of times – we elect them to public office.
It gets better? Take note: Your elders – those of age to vote – earlier this month gave congressional power back to a party whose members, drunk on the wine of victory, are tripping over themselves with wild and barely-contained glee to see who will be the fastest and loudest to proclaim a reversal to all sorts of advances:
Killing Obama-care. Trashing financial regulatory reforms. Opening up the nation’s natural resources to even more rapid and unrestrained exploitation. Gutting laws meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. Green-lighting off-shore oil drilling. Stripping women of a good share of their reproductive rights.
I could go on with this laundry list of nightmares, but will spare you.
Are you going to take the word of an older generation that will bequeath you a national debt nearing (this week) $14 trillion (that’s a $125,000 share for each of you, by the way)? And that will also drop in your laps these:
A depleted Social Security system? A sicker environment? Depletion of natural resources? Deforestation? The increased threat of oil spill-contaminated oceans? Mass-congested streets and highways? Crumbling, under-funded infrastructure? A trade deficit? And (again, I’ll cut this mercifully short) much more?
Your elders had this phrase from the anti-war, hippy ’60s: Never trust anyone over 30.
Things do have the potential to get better, but oftentimes better just doesn’t happen on its own. Better often has to be helped along. It has to be encouraged and induced with some effort – and wiser choices.
Let’s recount the choice Floridians made for governor. They chose a man who pledged to create 700,000 new jobs (this in a state with over one million unemployed). Try telling the 5% of state workers he wants to lay off (evidently his pledge didn’t apply to them) that it gets better.
He wants to ban most abortions. Try telling pro-choice women it gets better.
He wants to slash property taxes by up to 19%. Try telling municipalities that depend on this revenue to fund essential services that it gets better.
Sometimes things don’t get better, they become progressively worse. Particularly when voters throw good judgment to the wind and put short-term aspirations and gratifications ahead of long-term best interests. Wanting a quick fix to economic woes, they sometimes throw overboard measures intended to produce quality-of-life improvements (such as, say, to the environment). To resolve the state’s budget shortfall, statehouse Republicans proposed balancing the state budget on the heads of Florida’s schoolchildren by asking their parents to increase class sizes (voters, however, turned them down).
It gets better? Take note: Congressional Republicans vow to wield their own ax at the federal budget and extend the Bush tax cuts. But how will this reduce the deficit? It can’t. So says a man who’s been there and done that: Reagan budget chief David Stockman who, on 60 Minutes recently, declared, “If these [Republicans] were all put into a room on penalty of death to come up with how much they could cut, they couldn’t come up with $50 billion, when the problem is $1.3 trillion. So to stand before the public and rub raw this anti-tax sentiment, the Republican Party, as much as it pains me to say this, should be ashamed of themselves.”
Fareed Zakaria, writing in Time last week: “If Republicans were really serious about cutting spending, they had a golden opportunity after 2002, when they controlled all the levers of government in Washington. The result was the most reckless expansion of government spending and debt in two generations.”
It is noteworthy that our Emoter-in-Chief – arguably the year’s biggest victim of bullying – posted a video message to the nation’s bullied gay youth. This year saw him get pushed around by ragtag gangs of Republicans and Tea Partiers who taunted his agenda and successes, threw them to the ground, kicked them in the dirt, and managed, by November, to dupe the nation’s voters that they were the good guys and he the bad.
If our wimpy leader can’t pick himself up from the ground, dust himself off, and quickly acquire the cojones to get back in the game and start socking it to Boehner’s Boys and McConnell’s Mob come January, then he stands a solid chance of becoming a one-term prez whose turn at promoting his own White House memoirs at the Miami International Book Fair, plus breaking ground for his own library – all of which his predecessor did last week – will happen four years earlier than he either planned or wished.
Washington is a town of bullies, as the Professor-in-Chief now learns so rude-awakeningly by these election results. It is not for the timid nor the bullied.
The bullies aren’t going away anytime soon. They’re charged up, energized, rarin’ to go, ready to turn back the clock and stifle progress. Things are about to get worse, and no viral video can take the sting out of the abuse America is about to get for the foreseeable future from these progress-resistant reich-wingers. Things will get better only when a fed-up nation, unhappy with their results, chooses to fight back and wrest its future from them.
SEEN AT THE MIAMI BEACH VETERANS DAY PARADE: While all the other officials present were being chauffeured in vintage or sporty cars, County Commish Sally Heyman broke the mold and did something I bet you’ve never seen a local politico do in a parade – ride a Segway. She not only looked to be having a grand time on it, but appeared to be quite expert with it, too.
THE PARADE CONCLUDED with a ceremony at the Flamingo Park circle which, itself, ended in over-the-top style – literally – with a punctual and precise flyover of five F16s straight out from Homestead AFB.
DID YOU KNOW that there is a Miss Miami Tropic Teen USA? Or a Miss Miami Beach Teen USA? Or a Miss Winchester USA?
Well, no less than a dozen local beauty queens (yes, there are that many and likely more) were in the parade. What do they call that? A gaggle? A flock? God forbid something terrible happened and the bus from which they were all waving that fakey-looking-hand-wave that beauty queens wave had decided to tip over and crush ‘em all. That would have meant a whole lot of runners-up claiming the winners’ titles, sashes, and tiaras.
I wonder if there exists some kind of protocol – like when they keep one cabinet secretary from attending the president’s State of the Union speech in case the federal government were to go up in smoke all at once – whereby one local beauty queen is always kept away just in case all the others were wiped out in one fell swoop. Hmm. Maybe Miss Allapattah USA was kept away for this very reason.
OUR FAIR CITY IS WELL REPRESENTED, I can attest, by a gorgeous blonde stunner. She’s Miss Miami Beach USA 2011, Annilie Hastey (and if I haven’t got that correct, I hope she’s reading this now and will so provide me with any corrections. As well her phone digits. Well… I can at least try, can’t I?).
She got a lot of requests from servicemen and others to pose with them for pictures after the parade, and happily and patiently sated them all. But at event’s end it was odd to find her – a popular attraction only minutes before – standing all alone at the edge of Flamingo Park in her dress, minus her sash and tiara, with no military escort or hangers-on. Just another nondescript attractive girl in SoBe, apparently waiting for her ride home.
MY FAVORITE PARADE MOMENT – quite a poignant one – was one not scripted by organizers.
Just in front of me, outside the Clay Hotel, a wheelchair-bound parade viewer, a former Marine, maybe a Vietnam vet, was greeted by a passing contingent of Marines. “Semper Fi!” he called out to the marchers, and they returned the salute. An Air Force marcher with the group, after greeting the man, doubled back, asked him to join them, and – just like that – a parade spectator became a participant.
Then down Washington they all went, the Air Force airman pushing the wheel-chaired Marine vet. A Veterans Day parade indeed.