Keeping New Year’s resolutions is difficult, especially if that resolution is to drop a bad habit.
Like if you were to try and clean up your dirty mouth and use less curse words. Then you need to find a new vocabulary to slide into the place of all those expressive expletives you left in last year. The hardest part of dropping a bad habit is finding a replacement for it.
At least that’s what I’ve found nearly three months into 2012. The year I’ve decided to quit smoking.
By the end of 2011 I was up to a pack a day, and at roughly five minutes to smoke each butt, I’m left with an extra hour and forty minutes to fill each day, almost the length of a movie.
Cinema being as it is these days I’ve decided to read more and early last week I found myself aggressively scanning the bookshelves for more words and ideas to inhale like nicotine smoke.
I settled on “A Generation of Swine” by Hunter S. Thompson, the Gonzo journalist who, forty years ago, in a haze of psychedelic cynicism, wrote about the turgid effects of the American dream and tapped, unknowingly, into the rebellious spirit of my generation of pill poppers and occupiers.
The book, published in 1988, is a collection of essays from the Reagan era that Thompson wrote for the San Francisco Examiner. The essays have the signature Thompson attitude. But they mention relics like Xerox machines and ancient politicians like Gary Hart. All of which mean nothing to a 23-year-old college student.
I Went on Facebook instead, where I have, in attempt to stay current, Liked the major Republican presidential candidates; Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron PaulRon Paul (believe it or not he is on Facebook too) and of course, Mitt RomneyMitt Romney.
Romney had posted an op-ed he wrote called, “How I’ll Respond to China’s Rising Power.” The essay was published in the Wall Street Journal.
Why are these guys allowed to publish campaign rhetoric in nationally distributed news outlets, I thought to myself before reading the thing anyway.
In it Romney presents the possibility that “[t]he character of the Chinese government—one that marries aspects of the free market with suppression of political and personal freedom—would become a widespread and disquieting norm.”
Then he criticizes President Obama for bending over for the Chinese while simultaneously shrinking the power of the U.S. military and at the end of the piece, writes, “[t]he sum total of my approach will ensure that this is an American, not a Chinese century.”
Which I’m all for. I think. I mean it’s just hard for me to be all for it because I happened to read an essay by Andrew J. Bacevich in the February issue of Harper’s, titled “The Elusive American Century.”
Bacevich traces “The American Century” as a concept back to an editorial published in Life in 1941, between, Bacevich writes, a feature on women’s fashion and a profile of Betty Carstairs.
“The tension between these two visions of an American Century first became evident with the Korean War,” Bacevich writes, “A decade later, the Vietnam War brought that tension fully into the open, revealing the limits of both Washington’s capacity to police the American Century and the American people’s willingness to underwrite that effort.”
As a reader, I know that if Romney’s op-ed piece and Bacevich’s essay were playing each other in a football game, the force behind their arguments would cancel each other out and the ball wouldn’t move off of the 50 yard line.
Which is sort of where I am, politically speaking, on the 50 yard line. I don’t favor one ideology more than the other, and whichever one works is the one I will subscribe to. Lately, in my opinion, the one that seems to be working is President Obama’s.
The economy is slowly working its way back. General Motors is the world’s top manufacturer of automobiles. More people are going back to work. Even some of my friends and family members have been able to find jobs.
Internationally things are beginning to look good too. The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end and it looks like there may be a period of peace the first time since I was in seventh grade.
If this isn’t an American Century I guess I don’t mind if it doesn’t come back, especially if it means policing and paying, as Bacevich suggested.
As I prepare to graduate college and begin a life of my own I need to believe that the country, and the world is moving into a better, more productive, and safer future. Apart from a few issues in Syria and Iran, I really think it is, with Obama in the White House.
Republicans, like Mitt Romney, with their suspicion of the world, well, I feel like they just may pull everything backwards, to the long gone era found in old newspaper articles.
This article was originally published on allvoices.com on 2/19/2012, and can be found here, http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/11553208-election-2012-why-obama-gets-the-vote