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Hullabaloo


Friday, April 20, 2018

 

Still worried about the future

by Tom Sullivan

All these years after "The Graduate," there are still plenty of reasons to worry about the future. The rule of law seems to balance on a knife's edge. Nationalist sentiments threaten democracy here and across the globe. The Cold War threatens to rise from the grave. Plus, a lot of the people in the video below still influence too much of the present. They are warping our perceptions of it in ways reminiscent of Soviet Cold War disinformation and propaganda.

Adele Stan worries at the American Prospect about the media landscape in this country, beginning with this week's news that Sean Hannity is the de facto White House chief of staff and shares an attorney (Michael Cohen) with Donald Trump. Hannity has repeatedly had Cohen as a guest on his program without disclosing their relationship:
Yes, this is all quite troubling, if not entirely surprising. The real problem, however, is much bigger than whether Hannity is in cahoots with the administration; it’s the total distortion of the media landscape by the big right-wing outlets: Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Breitbart News, all de facto propaganda arms of the White House. Although the structure of news media in the era of the internet and cable TV lends itself to the silo-ing of audiences with particular political leanings, that alone is not what has caused the distortion. Rather, the leveraging of that phenomenon into an authoritarian disinformation operation is the issue.
Add to that how financially leveraged the country will become under the continued rule of this authoritarian cabal. Catherine Rampell worries about that for the Washington Post. The International Monetary Fund projects that the United States, alone among the world's advanced economies, is expected to see its debt burden grow worse over the next five years:
Every other rich country, including perennial fiscal basket cases such as Greece and Italy, is projected to lower its debt as a share of its economy. That is thanks in large part to the global economic recovery, which is bringing in more tax revenue and reducing the need for expensive automatic stabilizers such as unemployment benefits.

Here in the United States, though, we’ve taken our economic recovery and squandered it.

In December, Republicans passed massive, top-heavy tax cuts; this year, Congress oversaw a run-up in new spending. The result: trillion-dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see.
Where once we used to see America as a country to build and invest in, a country to grow, a future to create, now those in control see it as a failing business to hollow out and loot before it collapses. Investing in it, you know, through paying taxes, might accrue to the benefit of the hoi polloi. The rich and their vassals would rather cut off their own noses. Building is hard and requires vision and commitment. Plundering does not.

If America and the rule of law is not too far gone, there is a fresh group of leaders demanding better and unwilling to put up with the BS, as Emma Gonzalez put it. And they are coming for the bullshit peddlers in 2018 and 2020.

President Barack Obama celebrates the arrival of future graduates for calling America to account in the wake of the Parkland shootings. He writes in Time:
The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet.

But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom.

The power to insist that America can be better.

Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay. They’re as comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry. And they live to mobilize their peers.

Already, they’ve had some success persuading statehouses and some of the biggest gun retailers to change. Now it gets harder. A Republican Congress remains unmoved. NRA scare tactics still sway much of the country. Progress will be slow and frustrating.

But by bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA’s favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African Americans and Latinos—the disproportionate victims of gun violence—and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow.

Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law. This generation—of Parkland, of Dreamers, of Black Lives Matter—embraces that duty. If they make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be. Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.
Get busy worrying or get busy writing. Your choice.

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