Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Greatest Generation… MY ASS!!!

OK, here’s the deal, I love my grandma.  She’s a cool old lady from the north side of Chicago.  He’s an old school blue collar Dem, not a liberal.  But she voted for BHO so we’re good.  This isn’t some rant against old folks because I’ve got a grandma complex or something…  I’m just ready to cut loose on someone with a diary and this felt like a good place to start.

OK, so with Obama taking office next week, maybe I should be singing kumbaya and loving my neighbors, just filled with good feelings and not all this piss and vinegar.  But fuck that.

Where do I start?  First, I guess I should acknowledge the accomplishments of the “Greatest Generation” by thanking them for defeating Hitler and the Japanese Empire in WWII.  Without their efforts and sacrifices, we’d all be eating Bratwursts and Kraut a little more often.  Their sacrifices to the war effort and bringing us out of the Great Depression should never be minimized.  And I would never diminish that.

They have done so themselves, in my opinion.  Yes, they brought us out of the Great Depression but they also, in many respects, gave us a new one.  It was these folks and their redneck spawn that gave us 8 years of President Dumbfuck.  

It was also this generation, and their leaders, who gave us the Middle East in it’s current form.  Sliced up and misplaced cultures, combined into packages called nations that made no sense then and make even less sense today.  I’m not sure things would’ve been different in the Middle East if different decisions had been made along the way…  But it’s hard to imagine things being worse, isn’t it?

Further, it seems to me that a lot of old folks from the “Greatest Generation” are racists.  Maybe it’s just the old people I know or maybe the racists just seem to live longer (ala “only the good die young”) but damn if I didn’t see a lot of “greatest generation” types at McCain rallies talking about Obama in the most blatantly racist terms possible.  We’ve all seen the YouTubes of these rubes.  If it were up to them, we’d have Bush’s third term starting next week!

This generation started off by giving us regulated industries to address the deficiencies that caused the depression.  But then they turned around and voted Republican for a few decades to reverse it all.  And what happened?  

OK, OK…  It isn’t all their fault.  We all played a part in this disaster, I suppose.  We could’ve come out and voted in the same numbers as our grandparents and put better leaders in place, avoiding the Bush hangover we’re all going to have to live through for the next generation.  But that isn’t going to stop me from shouting down some old codger on the train today!  I’M FIRED UP!!!!

Have a great weekend everyone, celebrate MLK day with your kids, expose them to true “greatness” and hopefully they’ll get to see it in action, a living example, starting the day after when the Obama Administration takes over from the Worst President Ever.  


  1. HappyinVT

    making it too simplistic.

    I’m sure someone with more knowledge of sociology, psychology, and/or anthropology could explain the dynamics of societal change but here’s my take.

    The “greatest generation” came home and found great peace and prosperity (okay, okay, I’m not forgetting Korea) but generally people were way better off in the fifties than in the previous twenty years.

    Then comes the sixties and seventies when teenagers rebel by burning bras, demonstrating against Vietnam and for civil rights, having sex outside marriage, smoking pot, and …you get the picture.  But the older folks want their stability, their peaceful lives, back.  They want to know that men are men, women are women, and kids are seen but not heard.  Their order has been shaken.  They, dare I say it, cling to guns, God, and social issues that they are familiar with, that they were brought up with.  They did give us Kennedy and Clinton.  🙂  They just also gave us Reagan, and two Bushes.  🙁  But, they had help.  I voted for Reagan in ’84. {{{ducks head}}}

    In the end, let’s hope the new generation can give the greatest generation a run for their money.

  2. Now I have to start all over. And, yes I know you were being somewhat facetious.

    In the first place, I think you are minimizing the achievements during WW II with the attempted humorous comments about bratwurst and sauerkraut. I think you would find the smell of burning corpses very different from bratwurst. Hopefully the world will never see another war like that one. Be thankful you didn’t have to storm the beach at Normandy, or like my uncle, give your life fighting to free Europe. You might have an entirely different view if you had spent a few years in a Japanese or German death camp. Hell, the Russians lost more than 20 million people during that war. World-wide deaths totaled more than 70 million.

    You can’t blame that generation for Dumbo. He’s a boomer, as are both Clintons. The country as a whole is responsible for the last 8 years of Bush. In fact, younger voters voted in pretty much the same ratio for Bush as did older voters in 2004.

    Your ire over the middle-east is also misplaced. Most of the problems there are a legacy of the British Protectorate, which came about after WW I. You might be able to blame them for the creation of Israel, if blame is to be attached. However, the leaders who brought that about were from the previous generation.

    Now, you do have a point about that generation being more racist than the following generations. However, the videos I watched of the McPalin rallies showed a lot of middle-aged and younger people. I didn’t see many octogenarians shouting, “Kill him!”. And, as has been pointed out, MLK was part of that generation, as was LBJ.

    Another inaccuracy is blaming that generation for the Republicans since Reagan. Young people backed Reagan strongly. I smiled when I read your comment that seemingly blamed them for younger people’s failure to get out and vote. That’s a pretty neat rhetorical trick.

    When you see that old codger on the train today you might want to get up and offer your seat to him or her. You might even want to thank them for saving you from an overdose of bratwurst or sauerkraut.

    BTW, what exactly has your generation done for this country? Helping Obama get elected doesn’t count. It will be a few years before we know whether that was good for the country. Got anything to compare with winning the biggest war in history, pulling us out of the Great Depression, building up the infrastructure of this country, and setting us on the path to super-power status? Hmmm????

  3. Sometimes we can all be a bit too honorific on these subjects. But I would connect the dots like this…

    WAR TRAUMATISES; if I look at the experience of my parents in WWII, too young to fight or serve, but old enough to remember fire bombings of their cities, to hear the accounts of refugees from the holocaust (my grandfather gave refuge to several), to have been severed from their own parents, and live through the depredations of post war austerity (at least in the UK)…

    These things brutalise as well as ennoble. Every wartime survivor I ever knew (and there were plenty around me as a child) always talked with excitement and longing about the war, but I also sensed the unspoken truths – absence, loss, separation, and hidden abuse – and perhaps this explains the capacity for cruelty, bigotry and willingly blindness in that same ‘Greatest Generation’.

  4. DCDemocrat

    raised me.  They were exactly what was claimed about them.  We should not impugn their contribution because the class clown stole the presidency.

  5. GrassrootsOrganizer

    My parents were members of that generation as were all the adults of my childhood.  Certainly there was much they had not yet achieved as far as social evolution.  (I wouldn’t characterize them as any more racist or short-sighted than the generations that preceded them)

    What remains to be seen is if Gen X,Y or Z is capable of the same level of personal sacrifice, and I don’t mean just on the battlefield.  The WWII generation willingly did without for the war effort —  made due without complaining while gas and other essentials were rationed and shouldered the tax burden of the war.  

    This was a generation that not only suffered much deeper and widespread loss of their peers during WWII, but then again of their sons in Vietnam, the casualties of both wars dwarfing those of the Iraq War by tens of thousands.  

    Growing up in the Great Depression taught them to save, conserve on a personal level and treasure what they did have.  These were folks who would own the same broom for forty years, wash and reuse their tinfoil, build their own modest homes brick by brick and put pennies in a jar for years to afford a new car or a modest vacation.  They raised their children and built their own happiness without credit cards and car loans, used small personal loans only for genuine emergencies and worked like dogs to pay their mortgages off early.  “Doing without” was their lifestyle.

    My own father would work a 50 hour work week as a skilled tradesman, then come home every night and spend every weekend building first his own home with his own hands alone, then a second home as an investment.  And by “building” I mean digging the basements with a shovel and a bucket, not taking competitive bids from contractors or renting a backhoe for the weekend at Lowes.  He had no hobbies until he was well into his fifties and  felt he had earned the right to relax a bit.  He didn’t see scuba, yoga or mountain biking as essential to his happiness.  

    Setting aside the Baby Boomers like myself for this discussion, younger people consider postponing the purchase of an Iphone for a few months until there’s room on their credit card an unfair and unreasonable expectation.  My parents would have saved for years for a toy like a phone or game player, a hi-def tv might be something you rewarded yourself with at retirement after forty years of hard work.  To them, canned fruit was a ridiculous luxury.

    We now live in a time where the basic expectations were once the reserve of the ridiculously wealthy — fresh strawberries and tomatoes year round, every fruit, flower and vegetable fresh and on demand, prepared and carry-out foods, more appliances and electronic gee-gaws purchased in a year than my parents purchased in a lifetime.    My parents raised four kids in a home one fourth the size of the average home today, and somehow did so without Corian countertops and a master bedroom suite.  

    If Americans under 60 were capable of and willing to live like my parents generation, in terms of both work ethic and personal consumption, we’d have an economic turn around in a heartbeat.  

    Hell, I still remember all the chuckling this past summer over the notion of Americans making the personal “sacrifice” of keeping their tires inflated.    Every discussion of the environmental crisis or energy independence eventually circles back to what restrictions Americans would “tolerate”.    And the older I get the more amused I am by all corporations have convinced us we can’t live without.

    Believe it or not, we used to drink water out of faucets and fountains and carried our coffee (not latte) in a thermos from home.  Imagine.

  6. GrassrootsOrganizer

    I think one under-discussed aspect of this election cycle was this sense of generational superiority.  I get the part where that’s to be expected in a year like this where we have a significant cultural/generational shift.  That still doesn’t make that form of thinking productive or unifying.

    I noticed it first with Clinton and then McCain — it’s one thing to push for a change in thinking.  It’s another to make it all about age and damn entire generations in the process.  

    Not everyone over fifty is  backward thinking.  There are some lifelong progressive war horses (like me.) out there who deserve everyone’s respect for having fought the wars when it was not exactly popular or easy — when we didn’t have the perfect brilliant candidate to promote or the ideal shit conditions in which to do it.   And yet we hung in there anyway, go figure.

    There is much to learn from the “Greatest Generation” especially in the impending hard economic times.  Those are some folks who could teach all of us how to make do with less, happily do without and stay sane in a job that is far beneath you.    And among them are and were the leaders who first took civil, gay and women’s rights to the streets, who got up every morning and preserved your Constitution for ya’ll, who challenged the death penalty and secured abortion rights and who kept us warfree three decades.  

    The much maligned “Baby Boomers” could well teach ya’ll about what a real protest and collective action looks like — how to push this president to take progressive risks (ask LBJ)  and how to effectively reshape the thinking of the masses.  

    IF I wanted to I could judge all under thirties by the worst of ya’ll — I could go ahead and assume you all live in one never ending “Girls Gone Wild” video or can think no more deeply than Tila Tequila.  But I won’t.  

    Don’t judge us my how silly we might seem with our grey fat asses perched on the back of a Harley or assume all those frail old birds at the Ihop buffet couldn’t show the rest of us how to be tough as nails.  And try to remember that every AARP member was once twenty-something and determined the change the world.  And we did, God damn it.   Try not to forget that part.  It’s good for the soul.

  7. GrassrootsOrganizer

    Just a short rundown of what life used to be like before old people fucked everything up — the one the kid in me remembers

    The Environment — backyard birds and raptors disappearing from DDT, rivers and lakes overgrown with phosphate blooms, litter on the sides of the road ankle deep, air you could cut with a knife over every American industrial city, nothing but garbage fish in four of the five Great Lakes from industrial dumping

    Civil Rights — black folks still sitting on the back of the bus out of habit and fear, the only jobs for blacks in the service industry, no tradesmen, no professionals, no black or Latino middle class, total segregation even in the North, “projects”

    Women’s Rights — access to birth control only for health reasons, “Male Wanted” and “Female Wanted” job postings, I could go on forever on this one…..

    Gay Rights — what gay rights?

    no handicap access, no EEOC, no laws against domestic violence or child abuse, no school lunch programs, open garbage dumps, no EPA, no OSHA, mandatory prayer, no Miranda Rights………

    do I have to go on?  Or can I just go out on the ice and die now.

  8. SpanishFly


    Yes, it was snarky but it was also meant to generate some heat… and thought.  My post did that and I thank you all for your comments.  I’ve learned from them all and appreciate the intelligence of this group.  

    I couldn’t possibly address all of the comments above.  Too much damn snow in my driveway!  But I will say I think we need to understand we currently live in a country that just went to the polls and nearly 50% of the votes went to the status quo.  I find that unacceptable, as do most here.  We need to keep shaking things up.  No disrespect was meant to those who fought the great war.  Only for snarks sake, I suppose.  But let’s not accept the “greatest generation” tag any more than we ought to accept the “we’re the greatest country on earth” mantra.  Prove it and demand those that say such things, or tag themselves in such ways, prove it.  When I hear someone talk about how his brothers all died in Germany or in the South Pacific and then have to listen to them later degrade Niggers and Jews…  All within an hour of each other, I don’t sit for it out of simple respect for my elders.  

    Let’s also hold ourselves accountable.  Electing Obama means nothing if we sit down on our fat asses and hope and dream.  This is an opportunity, nothing more.  We all have the power now to be what we always said we wanted to be.  So do it.  Or we prove right those who called me an idealist for my hopes and dreams when Clinton was elected.  We empower them.  We get George W. Bush for 8 years.

    Now is not the time for complacency.  Now’s the time to work harder than you ever have, pay attention, get involved, protest, vote, donate time and money…  What you’ve probably already been doing but it can’t stop now.  And that’ll make us great.  Something we can take pride in if we’re able to hand this planet to our children in better condition than the place is being handed to us today.  

    At 44 I’ve still got the energy but precious little time.  It’ll be my example to my 10 year old son, in not allowing his mind to get poisoned by comments from the Palin crowds or elsewhere.  And hopefully he’ll be shaking things up soon too.  I suppose it’s in his DNA.

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