Pass The Torch, Dole

I realize I could not to vote for Bob Dole when two people I know lost their jobs. It wasn't because of any corporate downsizing or technology lay-offs. It was generational.The first instance involved a boy about my son's age, a Gen-Xer. He had been dismissed because a security guard reported he was smoking marijuana outside the building on a cigarette break. He was not. He rolls his own cigarettes out of pouch tobacco. I've seen him do this many times. Rolling your own seems to be a minor fad among Gen-Xers, but the personnel office didn't even give him an opportunity to defend himself or explain.The personnel director who approved the dismissal was the same man who was the personnel director when I worked at this company 25 years ago. He was older than me then and retirement age now. Now quite as old as Bob Dole, but more the Dole generation than mine. The second dismissal was a similar situation, only involving a Boomer.There was no drug use, only rumors of it, in each case. Yet, when I worked at this company 25 years ago, genuine drug abuse went on among the elders. It was a high stress job and alcohol, speed and pot were rampant among the supervisors in my department. The older men were quietly sent to rehab clinics and returned, only to switch their substance abuse from one thing to another time and again. Not one of them was fired, even though morale and production was affected throughout the department. Management was going to ride it out. All the supervisors who had substance abuse problems subsequently died of related health problems, just a few years short of retirement age.When I pointed out the tolerance level in this company for such behaviors back then compared to now, I was told "Well, they're tightening up on it now." But who they are tightening up on are the younger generations employed there. They protected their contemporaries. The older workers who had damaged their health through alcohol and tobacco, especially in the glory days when they could smoke at their desks and put away a couple packs a day, or even keep a fifth of bourbon stashed in their locker, may be wearing the company down now with their health claims and time lost due to disability, but all their benefits remain protected, whereas the young are being weeded out at the first sign of trouble, no matter how remote.This worries me when I look at a candidate the age of Bob Dole. I don't trust his ability to relate and plan for the problems of people my son's age, or even mine, for that matter. I don't know if I want the first President of the 21st century to be setting agendas and creating programs that continue to protect and coddle a generation that will only participate in the 21st century for a few brief years, if at all. Unfortunately, they tend to vote faithfully, even on their way to the cemetery, trying to maintain the world as they want it even as they're leaving it. Don't even mention Strom Thurmond's re-election bid to me.Even a Boomer President like Clinton is not immune. Why couldn't he say he did inhale in college without there being a political backlash? I find it hard to believe Boomer voters ever let this be a factor in their estimation of the man, and certainly Gen-Xers did not. The tidal wave of ridicule and fear came from the other side. I guess it's going to take another 10-15 years, when Boomers are the senior voice in the media, before no one even asks a candidate if he used drugs in college.Perhaps I am impatient for the World War II generation to pass the torch. We have passed all the 50th anniversaries of the battles, and that should be the end of it. But still I see in the letters columns of newspapers people who are angry because an editorial was not written honoring the 51st or the 52nd anniversary of this battle or that one. This is the generation that saved the world, they say. You owe us, you owe us, you owe us. And we have paid, and paid, and paid. Pensions, Medicare, Social Security is all there for you, overburdening the rest of us. One day a week, I work entirely for the government, a whole day's salary is eaten up in taxes, and I doubt when the huge Boomer generation hits retirement age, there will be much left to buffet my old age. The last thing I need for my future is a man like Dole in the White House, his ear tuned to his contemporaries, his mindset formed from a war we won, trying to govern a generation forced into an unwinnable war by his generation. Let's not draw those battle lines again and put his generation back in power.That is, if he's even up to the task. While they're running for office, they need to prove that they are vigorous and young. You see them jogging and treadmilling. But once safely in office, it all catches up with them. I suspect Reagan's Alzheimer's was in force before his term was over and his wife and staff skillfully covered for him. Even Jimmy Carter, who looked rather youthful taking office, aged visibly in a mere four years. I don't know if I want a President like Dole who may look okay now, but starts to rot in the job when he is supposed to be grappling with making the world a better place for the Boomers to retire in and the Gen-Xers to have a life as secure as his generation had during the Eisenhower years.Like those old bosses who couldn't relate to the lifestyles of Gen-Xers, or who decided to enforce the rules now that none of their contemporaries would be hurt by it, I don't trust the WWII generation to save the world anymore, especially if it's necessary to negatively impact their own as much as the rest of us, and I just don't think Dole can do it. I've hear d a rare few leaders dare to call for the WWIIers to "make one more sacrifice," but they have dug in their heels because they perceive the rest of us haven't made any sacrifices at all. Well, you didn't leave us with anything TO sacrifice. Most of us can't afford mortgages or health insurance, much less retirement plans. The employers that are still supporting you with pensions and health plans, are unable to offer either to new employees, if they hire at all.The Presidency should not be a "reward," a gold watch, for a long career in government. It should be the domain of break-through ideas and fresh approaches, not the preservation of the decrepit status quo. Saving the world today means noticing how it has changed for those of us who have a live here quite awhile longer.

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