The cover story of your Sept. 3 issue ("The Empty Promise of the X Vote," by David Corn) was extremely offensive to me, a 26-year-old. In an American studies class in high school, we were taught what a Republican was, what a Democrat believed in and the viewpoints of liberals, and we were asked to figure out which category we thought that we, as individuals, would fit into. Unfortunately, those descriptions no longer apply to political groupings.
Today's politics are indeed disenchanting. Gov. Pete Wilson made his sole appearance at the University of California Regents meeting and voted for the elimination of affirmative action in the UC system. And he insisted, of course, that his appearance was not a political statement. Then there's the punish-the-illegal-worker issue, on which virtually all the politicians, regardless of background, seem to agree.
Finally, there's the Packwood circus. Think about how, for 25 years, this man followed a lifestyle that was insensitive to the reputations of his colleagues. Still, it took them since 1992 to accuse him of violating a special conduct code for senators.
I'm a person who works two jobs, attends classes and tries to put a bit of money aside for some much-needed dental work that my insurance will not cover. Yes, I vote. And yes, I do care. But unfortunately, my concerns are not represented by today's politicians.
Corn missed a critical point. Twenty-something political activism, though often idealistic and prone to failure, could quickly blossom into thirty- and forty-something leadership.
At 26, Bill Clinton was Texas State Chair for the McGovern '72 presidential campaign. Although his fortunes sank with McGovern's defeat, within six years, he became Governor of Arkansas. And he's done well since.
At 27, Ralph Reed, with Pat Robertson's blessings, organized the Christian Coalition. With mailing lists from Robertson's failed campaign, Reed built the organization from the bottom up. Now 33, Reed and his organization are likely to wield considerable influence at the next Republican national convention..
Corn should have given more credit to Generation X leaders. Jon Cowan and Rob Nelson raised $1.3 million dollars for Lead . . . or Leave. That level of fund-raising skill is something to be reckoned with. With similar fervor and persistence, many Gen Xers could become important political leaders by the turn of the century.
Brandon B. Shim
In promoting the myth that Social Security and Medicare are of no consequence to their generation, the founders of Lead . . . or Leave have themselves been taken in by a shrewd and cruel con game. At 20, one is inclined to consider one's self invulnerable. Old age seems a long way off and its benefits irrelevant. How quickly, though, the years fly by, and suddenly one is confronted with the reality of bones that ache, muscles that no longer respond quickly and an income that has dwindled to nothing.
If Gen Xers support the forces seeking to destroy Social Security and Medicare, they will have turned a specious and self-serving political ploy into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The beneficiaries will be the major corporations that profit from the financial services provided to the ill-informed and vulnerable.
A system of vouchers with which people could invest for their retirement would probably not prove to be a reasonable alternative to the present method. I'd rather place my faith in a creaky Social Security system; at least we would have some say in its restructuring.
As a Gen Xer, I am apathetic toward this behemoth of a political system that's controlled by the wealthy. It is corrupt, unmanageable and dominated by private interests that employee expensive lobbyists. It makes education expensive and difficult to obtain, seizes rights from legal immigrants and allows the Christian Right to enforce its ambiguous moral values on the majority. The current system does not want a Generation X group educated, awake or involved. It would rather see us as quiet consumers, not angry revolutionists.
We are awash in lurid TV trials and purposeless news stories that only tire us and distract us from the issues that matter, leaving us without the energy to make change? Each of us needs to ask ourselves: "What can I do to make a difference in the lives of people around me?" and then make those changes.
In Corn's MTV sidebar, he writes that "there is no monolithic youth voting block." If that is so, how can he--and his media cohorts--continue to lump all young Americans under the Gen X banner.