January 20, 2053 Inauguration Day
"Great Grandad, were you alive with Donald Trump was President?"
"Yes, I was, sweetheart, sadly, yes I was."
"But how did America, the greatest country in the world, elect such a man? We've read about all the great people who've been President. And we've read of the ones who were not so great, but Mr. Trump was something else entirely. How was it such a man was elected?"
"I wish I knew, sweetheart, I wish I knew."
Such is the conversation I might have with my long in the future great-grandchild. And I have no idea how I will answer that question. Yet, I know we have no one to blame but ourselves for the Trump era. Ours was the first time in American history where the older generation failed to instill a sense of duty and purpose and inspire a new generation to a call to serve the country, to get out and vote, to seek to participate in government rather than resigning themselves to the hopelessness of ever fostering change.
It left us with a broken system, ingrained ineptitude, and political leaders focused on being elected and re-elected rather than serving for the good of the country.
Perhaps it was because we continued to put the same tired old men (mostly) in Congress who sought only to preserve their positions, not serve the common good.
Perhaps it was because we let money, and those who controlled the overwhelming majority of it, dictate policies and fund those candidates who swore slavish fealty to those causes regardless of the cost to the country or the world.
Perhaps it was because we lost the art of compromise and conversation and replaced it with confrontation and contempt of anyone who disagreed with us.
Perhaps it was because we let a generation come of age where excellence was abhorrent and average was considered an accomplishment.
Perhaps it was because we rewarded mediocrity.
Perhaps it was because we were blinded by ignorance, bias, and uncertainty.
Perhaps it was our fear of the unfamiliar and the growing global nature of the world.
Perhaps it was our loss of purpose in pursuit of our own comfort.
Perhaps it was the inevitable decline that is a characteristic of nature.
Or perhaps, it was just a momentary retreat on an otherwise continuing rise to greatness.
Perhaps it serves to remind us of how easy it is to become complacent and fearful and jingoistic in our society.
Whatever the cause, our recovery is only just beginning. While I am pleased by what I see as a return to sanity and stability, Joe Biden is a placeholder and reminder from our past, he is not our future.
We need a new generation of leaders to rise to the occasion. A greater choice of committed Americans to occupy everything from the local School Board to Congress to the White House to ensure our continued progress to greatness.
I hope, if I live long enough to have that conversation, I can say this.
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