What happened to my generation?
When did we collectively sell out? Aren't we supposed to be Gen Y, this crazy new kind of generation, looking forward instead of stuck in the past. And yet we have gone the way of those before us, perpetuating things we once said weren't set in stone. And now we have our chisels out. Punk rock and counterculture weren't invented by our generation. Neither were conformity or the value of personal gain. And yet it seemed as if we could perfect these and other seemingly opposed ideas by marrying them in the most dysfunctional yet perfect union.
Maybe it was just me, but I thought we would collectively eschew the labels of our parent's generation. Republican, Democrat; the Coca-Cola:Pepsi, DC:Marvel, Hershey's:Nestle of the adult world. And yet now, even Facebook, the site that started out only for us has such self imposed labels as "Very Liberal" or "Very Conservative," just pseudonyms for close minded, entrenched in the viewpoints of others and unwilling or unable to compromise, all of which are the very enemies of democracy and freedom we hold dear.
Before you pigeon-hole me into whatever label on the precious political spectrum makes you most comfortable, realize that I identify with neither. I choose to think for myself, to make independent choices, some of which may be viewed as liberal, others conservative. These self determinations and constantly re-evaluated conclusions are precisely what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they built our Constitution.
It should come as no surprise (though to many it is) that George Washington himself had no political party. History books and teachers will try to pound into your head that he was a Whig, an archaic party that no one truly knows about anymore (quick lesson: they were a British political party that supported Colonial independence), but that's just a historian's way of pigeon-holing one of the greatest historical figures so they can feel at ease. In reality, anyone that has even read the cliff notes of Washington's farewell address can clearly see that he had a distrust and dislike of political parties, for exactly the reasons we see today.
Most Americans find a party and latch onto it, clinging for dear life. Part of what Washington (and I!) feared is that citizen's loyalty would be first to their party, then to their country. The scary thing is, he was right. We can see today, everyone voting along or against party lines. Party lines should have nothing to do with our politics if we are ever going to move forward. We have seen how bad things get when the nation becomes polarized, from personal experience I have been looked down upon simply based on who I voted for (this sin belongs to both parties, trust me).
Wake up, Generation Y. Our parents are too set in their ways to hear any of what I'm saying, so we owe it to ourselves and those who come after us to set things right and make party names meaningless. The day I hear someone say "That dumb guy" instead of "That dumb liberal/conservative" will be a happy day indeed.