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It seems that another viable party needs to be created, one that truly does not rely on business as usual in Washington, and is truly for change at the basic level. Until we change the way Congress operates, and how it is so heavily influenced by lobbyists and special interests, nothing is going to change in this country, and our democracy is suffering because of that.
Stress levels are certainly higher in this country than they were when the Students wrote their statement, although they certainly faced their own stresses. Today, many families are worse off than they were just a year ago, and the recession has just begun. What is going to happen to them in another year? There are still millions of young people that go hungry in our country, and millions without homes. There are still disparities in the educational level of schools in wealthy areas and poor areas, and there are still people who have no health insurance and no way to pay for even basic medical care. There are wrongs in our society, and they are just as wrong as the wrongs the Students were upset about in 1962. I do not think families are as strong as they once were, and I do not think our society is as strong as it once was. I think Americans are too self-indulgent, too self-centered, and too apathetic to care about anyone but themselves. There are certainly some Americans who are very caring, committed, and involved, but as a whole, I think society is selfish and self-adsorbed, and that our country is headed down a road toward failure and despair. The country and the democratic process are in flux, and something is going to have to change to make the country prosperous again. I think it is up to the American people, but I am not sure they are up to the challenge.
Of course, there are things that are right in this country. The fact that so many people voted in this election and made their voices heard is one good thing. There are good people in neighborhoods who still strive to be good to each other and to care about others, and there are good people who serve the country in the military, in the fire and police departments, and in the healthcare facilities around the country. There are people committed to making a difference and making the country as safer and better place. Individually, Americans can be strong, positive, and elements of social change. However, America as a country is faltering, and even more frightening is the way many people around the world view us. We are no longer the envy of the world; increasingly we are seen as a bully and an elitist nation that turns its back on suffering in many other countries, like the situation in Dafur and other global nightmares. It is another measure of general American apathy that we allow situations like this to occur, and do not even give them any thought, and it is a measure of our selfishness, as well.
I am fearful for this new generation in school now, and the young people following us. What kind of future awaits us? Will we be able to find jobs in our fields? Will we ever be able to pay off our college loans? Is all of that mute, in a world that faces global climate change at such a rapid rate that in 100 years we may not be here at all? What kind of future is that to look forward to? Today, the future does not seem very promising, but very frightening. Will I ever be able to afford to retire? Will my parents? Will the stock market ever come back, and how will baby boomers on the verge of retirement cope with the stunning losses to their retirement portfolios? Will Social Security survive? These are all frightening thoughts, and they all need answers, but the answers may not be what we want to hear. I think my generation and those behind us face an uncertain future. Of course, the economy will revive, sooner or later, house prices will rise again, and things will get back to "normal." However, that is going to take some time, and it is going to take work, too. In the meantime, these are frightening times, and it seems clear they are going to get worse before they get better. I am afraid for my future, and that of my family, and I am afraid of where the country is headed. I would like to think that we are off on a new, positive direction, but one man can only do so much, and there seem to be so many people poised to see him fail, that I wonder just what our future holds.
The Port Huron Statement advocated "participatory democracy," and I do not think we have that even today. Our representatives in Congress really do not represent us, the people, they represent their own interests, and we allow it. We allow a presidential campaign to drag on for two years, and cost billions of dollars, money that could be better spent on a million other internal needs. We are apathetic, and things have not really changed so much in 44 years.
Hayden, Tom. 2006. Tom Hayden's new Port Huron Statement. Los Angeles, CA: TruthDig.com. Online. Available from Internet, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20060328_hayden_port_huron/,accessed 20 November 2008.
Students for a Democratic Society. 2008. Port Huron statement of the Students for a Democratic Society, 1962. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. Online. Available from Internet, http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/huron.html, accessed 20 November 2008.
Tom Hayden 2006. Tom Hayden's new Port Huron Statement. Los Angeles, CA: TruthDig.com. Online. Available from Internet, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20060328_hayden_port_huron/,accessed 20 November 2008.
Students for a Democratic Society.[continue]
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standard joke about America in the 1960s claims that, if you can remember the decade, you did not live through it. Although perhaps intended as a joke about drug usage, the joke also points in a serious way to social change in the decade, which was so rapid and far-reaching that it did seem like the world changed almost daily. This is the paradox of Todd Gitlin's "years of