As a youngster I refilled my father’s Zippo lighter with fluid and replaced the flints. I emptied ash trays and absorbed eighteen years of second-hand smoke. Was I ever tempted to smoke? No, the women of my family did not approve of smoking. Specifically, there was my grandmother who shaped me in thought and religion. She made sure I understood her position against smoking.
My grandfather did not smoke but she could not stop her daughters from marrying smoking men. Did I know cigarettes were harmful? Yes, everyone knew smoking was harmful, but the harm was an abstract concept lacking long-term understanding.
As a young person I could not imagine the painful deaths of my father and Uncle Ralph tied to decades of smoking. With the benefit of age I see smoking for its entire effect, I get the whole picture and am sad when young people take up smoking.
Likewise I see the effect of politics in ways I could not decades ago. This presidential election reminds me of the Ford/Carter race of 1976. I was young and believed the hype of Jimmy Carter. I even had a Carter bumper sticker on my car. One of my relatives tried to tell me the harm that Carter was going to do to the economy but I would not listen. He was old, therefore, could not know anything.
Four years later I could not wait to throw Carter out of office for the damage he did to the economy, the military and our role in the world. I voted for Carter only once which is why I have trouble warning young people today of the harm that Obama poses for them.
The reelection of Obama would be obnoxious to me as an old person but not particularly harmful since I am safely into retirement but the youth of today are having their futures spent, and the futures of their kids and their kids. So much money is being spent that our nation does not have it is certain the youth of today will live lesser lives than the bright life I have enjoyed.
Additionally, I have lived my life so far relatively free and with liberty. From the direction this nation is headed I may have a few years of liberty constriction before I die but the youth of today have no chance of living in freedom as I have done. Importantly, these harmful things to the youth of today are being done as a result of the youth voting into office the very wardens that will make prisoners of these youth. Have the youth of today been warned? Sure, but like me at their age, these young people cannot get the full picture of how their liberty is being stolen from them one little bit at a time.
Sad to say, whenever I talk about politics to young people they give me the same look I gave my uncle when he tried to warn me about how harmful President Jimmy Carter was going to be to me. And he was. I owned two weekly newspapers and a print shop that Carter’s policies drove out of business. I voted for the wrong person and then suffered the consequences.
The youth of today are overwhelmingly in the Obama and Democrat area. Years from now they may rue the vote that sends Obama into his second term. And it would appear no amount of good advice from people who have been on this planet much longer will have any effect.
The only thing these young people can do when they finally realize what their votes have caused them in harm is to write a column in which they talk about all of the old people who tried to tell them not to vote for Obama. And they can warn the youth of that day about the next harmful politician, not that it will help.
Dr. Michael Swickard is co-host of radio talk show News New Mexico 6 to 9 a.m. Monday - Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org