Hillary Clinton’s Nomination

A Glass Ceiling Breaking, or a Generation’s Windshield Smash-Up

(The Forecast)
…. the sound of Hillary Clinton breaking the Glass Ceiling is echoed by the tape loop of another sound of artery-severing, splintering glass: impoverished baby boomers still hearing in their heads the horrible crashing noise of their lives going through the Windshield of the Great Recession.

(The Larger Weather Map)

Tonight, the Democratic National Convention will feature Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech of her nomination to be the next President of the United States. As she was no doubt going through a final rehearsal for that speech in Philadelphia, an infinitely more ordinary citizen (which is to say, the author of this blog) was going about yet another day, during his so-called summer off from teaching, of trying to find an affordable place for his mother to live at, as she descends into the mists of cognitive disability.

Oddly enough, Linda and I watched a film last night that struck more closely home than I anticipated. Redwood Highway stars Shirley Knight as a grandmother who undertakes a 60 mile walk to her granddaughter’s wedding. In the course of her journey, we get glimpses of the oncoming dissolution of her mental faculties, but her hallucinations also show the depth of love she still feels for her dead husband, who was an enlisted sailor when they first met. All in all, it was not a film that I want my mother to see right now. It would simply make her feel too sad. I would recommend it, though, as an independent film more than worth the viewing.

My mother’s situation is rather complex, with both things to be grateful for and things that are worrisome. Like my father, my mother is a World War II veteran, and she is therefore eligible for support from the VA. About two years ago, I initiated her application for this assistance, and the money she receives is very helpful. It is not enough, though, to supplement her social security to the point where she can afford the kind of care she requires. It’s a very tough challenge at this point, and I am scheduled to visit Rowentree Gardens, a place run by the Quakers in Stanton, California, which might possibly work out.

In the meantime, I am all too aware of how little has been said at the DNC about the oncoming crisis of baby boomers growing old. The attention paid to the young is in striking contrast to the silence about the baby boom generation, which suffered from a one-two punch of unemployment and pension devastation not seen since the Great Depression. Unfortunately, both Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders seemed utterly oblivious to the one-sidedness of their “visions” for the consequences of this election:

“In this election and every election, it is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.”
First Lady Michelle Obama on her support for Hillary Clinton

“This election is about, and must be about, the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and our grandchildren.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

Do not the needs of the American people include the generation born between 1946 and 1954? “This election is about ending the 40 year decline of the American middle class,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, in addressing the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016. That decline fell most heavily on the millions of workers born between 1946 and 1954. After working very hard for decade after decade, this segment of Americans found itself not only unemployed and too old to find a new job during the Great Recession, but also found that its retirement pensions had been totally gutted. Obama threw this generation of workers under the bus, but it will get even worse if Paul Ryan and Company get empowered by a Republican in the White House. If Trump is elected President, this unfortunate generation will find itself crushed under the heel of a contemptuous and ungrateful ruling class that will cackle with delight at their plight. Anyone between the age of 62 and 70 who votes for Trump is voting for an absolutely miserable end of life experience.

But it is not just the GOP that is the problem. It must be pointed out that Sanders left unanswered one important question when he cited a “40 year decline of the American middle class”: Which party held the White House for 20 of those years. Here’s the roll call — Jimmy Carter (4 years); Bill Clinton (8 years); Barack Obama (8 years). So doesn’t the Democratic party deserve at least some of the “credit” for this decline? If the Sanders faction remains insidiously contumacious, it is in large part because the Democratic party wants to pretend that it did not acquiesce in this decline. In point of fact, it actively collaborated with those economic forces that accelerated this decline. To believe that the spouse of Bill Clinton is going to reverse the very decline that Bill Clinton himself helped organize and enforce is living in a hemisphere of massive denial.

All of this is to say that the sound of Hillary Clinton breaking the Glass Ceiling is echoed by the tape loop of another sound of breaking glass: impoverished baby boomers still hearing in their heads the horrible crashing noise of their lives going through the Windshield of the Great Recession.

It’s possible — unlikely, but still possible — that Hillary Clinton will prove to be a better President than her spouse or Barack Obama. The latter, in fact, said that she was more qualified and prepared to take on the rigors of the Oval Office than either Bill or himself. It’s possible that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be remembered as one of the ten most important and effective presidents in our nation’s history. It’s possible that Baby Boomers floundering at minimum wage jobs at the age of 67 will be offered more than the starvation pension of social security. For the sake of the young people, as well as the Baby Boomers who are their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, I hope that the possibility of political redemption for the Democratic party ripens into actuality.

Finally, it must be said that it was a childish fantasy on the part of the Sanders’ faction to reinforce the GOP’s mantra of “Lock her up.” What were these pathetic, petulant brats thinking? Any voter self-categorized as independent who was watching the convention would have to wonder about the possible truthfulness of Trump’s egregious distortions. “Gee, if even Democrats are chanting ‘Lock her up,’ maybe Trump is right.” In yet another election that might be decided by less a thousand votes, the supporters of Sanders really ought to stop living with the make-believe that their candidate was robbed of the nomination. Sanders lost, and by a much larger margin than Hillary Clinton did to Obama in 2008. To those who still keeping fanning the embers of “Feel the Bern,” I say, start organizing for 2024, when your generation had better have someone ready to step up to the plate.