Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The Reverse New Deal: The political establishment scolds America's youth and turns them into debt slaves for Corporate America's utilization
(Statue of Eleanor Roosevelt in Washington, DC. Photo by Carol Highsmith, provided courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
Scolding America's Youth And Keeping Them In Debt
In a recent op-ed on the Huffington Post, Linda Bergthold, a health policy consultant, questioned the wisdom of Bernie Sanders' younger supporters: "Perhaps younger people don’t realize the damage that a conservative state legislature can do to all of the proposals Sanders so strongly supports... If Senator Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination, what will be his response and the response of his supporters? Will they pout or refuse to vote for Hillary or will they roll up their sleeves and transfer their considerable energy to making change happen from the ground up?" ("To Bernie Sanders Supporters From Someone Bernie's Age," Huffington Post, April 4, 2016, emphasis added).
In another recent op-ed on the Huffington Post, Dr. Ruth Nemzoff of Brandeis University also scoffed at young Americans supporting Sanders. In explaining how her support for Clinton is superior to young Americans' support for Sanders, she writes: "Guess maybe I have become an old fuddy duddy, but you won’t find me sitting around allowing simple answers (fantasies) to rule" ("Bernie Is Nice Enough But Hillary Is The One Who Can Govern!" Huffington Post, February 23, 2016, emphasis added).
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously said, "Young women have to support Hillary Clinton... And just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other."
The above instances are just a few examples where (supposed) liberals, Democrats, and progressives have scolded America's youth for not voting the right way, not thinking clearly, and dreaming too much.
And, of course, right-wingers are trying to discourage youth from voting for Sanders as well. Tom Rogan, who rights for the National Review and is a fellow at the Steamboat Institute (an institute that praises "rugged individualism"), writes: "There is only one reason for younger Americans to vote for Bernie Sanders - if, instead of happiness, they live for the pursuit of personal and national pain" ("Dear Young Americans: Don't Vote For Bernie," Opportunity Lives, February 5, 2016).
Rogan argues that if Sanders becomes president, his "economic policies would submit younger Americans to a future of ever-higher taxes and ever-fewer job opportunities," that "Sanders would bury young Americans in debt," and that Sanders' "[foreign policy] plans would gut the military and corrode its ability to defend America’s interests abroad." What Rogan leaves out, of course, is that younger Americans--over the past 30-40 years--have already been dealing with crappier and crappier job opportunities and more and more debt. Also, with respect to the military, maybe younger Americans don't agree with America's new policy of perpetual war? Clearly, Rogan has been living in a cave for the past few decades and is unaware of what younger Americans have been struggling with. To tell young Americans, "Oh, you better not vote for Sanders - he'll put you in debt!" when young Americans are already burdened with over a trillion dollars in student loan debt is one of the most idiotic warnings I've ever heard in my life.
In addition to discouraging youth from voting for a candidate whose ideas energize them, and whose bold agenda motivates them to participate more in the political process, the political establishment is also working hard to keep them in debt. For example, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, with the president's blessing, openly supports loan sharks (after receiving campaign cash from them), and President Obama's Department of Education "has misled the public about alleged fraud at major student loan contractor Navient. It has refused to punish schools that violate state and federal rules. It has dragged its feet on providing debt relief to students from the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, even after federal judge ruled that the school scammed more than 100,000 students" ("How The Democratic Elite Betrayed Their Party And Paved The Way For Donald Trump," Huffington Post, March 23, 2016).
As for Hillary Clinton, I've heard nothing from her regarding debt-relief that I find interesting or inspiring. And let's be real, we know that Hillary can't help young Americans too much without pissing off her super-wealthy backers (i.e., those Americans who profit by turning America's youth into debt slaves).
The New Deal: Engaging America's Youth
Instead of scolding young Americans, New Deal policymakers hired millions of them into the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the National Youth Administration (NYA). In establishing the NYA, President Roosevelt said: "I have determined that we shall do something for the Nation's unemployed youth because we can ill afford to lose the skill and energy of these young men and women."
In 1934, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: "I have moments of real terror, when I think we may be losing this generation. We have to bring these young people into the active life of the community and make them feel that they are necessary." Turning her concern into concrete action, Eleanor helped shape the development and expansion of the NYA. Aubrey Williams, the administrator of the NYA, recalled: "One of the NYA's ablest and wisest friends was Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt... Her unfailing interest, her deep and sympathetic understanding of the problems of youth, and her endless courage were a source of great strength and guidance to the NYA, to the youth on its program, and to the youth of America." (Final Report of the National Youth Administration, Fiscal Years 1936-1943, 1944 p. viii).
Today, there is no CCC or NYA. But there are routine scoldings for the young men and women who are voting for Sanders and refusing to support Clinton and her Wall Street plutocrats. The elite intelligentsia and op-ed writers who scold them seem to collectively say, "How dare you not support neoliberalism! How dare you protest your dropping wages and rising debt!!"
Yes, things have changed a lot since the New Deal.