One of the more unexpected sights at this summer’s Van’s Warped Tour punk concert was a stand touting Ron Paul as President in 2012. It stood next to a Libertarian Party stand that attracted teens like moths to a flame with it’s tie-dyed marijuana logo flag and some of the teens then slid over to receive free copies of the Constitution from the Paul supporters. According to the adults at the stand, the Libertarian stand provided concert-goers with surveys that helped them identify themselves in the political realm and the large majority of the youth were strongly Libertarian. And providing copies of the Constitution? While my initial take was amused disbelief, I’ve come to think of it not only as very smart but also as something that’s desperately needed.
One of my great criticisms of today’s youth – and parents by extension – is that they’ve willingly tuned out to the world around them. I sometimes also bear some of the same criticism as it’s simply tiring of having to always shoo teens away from the various electronic media, but it’s a chronic and recurrent necessity as Youtube and Facebook are infinitely easier to understand than the vagaries and intricacies of abortion debates and budget deadlocks. This was brought home last week by an encounter with Middle, who was stalling on studying his US History assignment on the Constitution. It was hammer and tongs for a short period and then he simply blurted out what’s the point anyway? The government’s corrupt and none of them give a damn about anything but themselves…whether this was a true statement of his belief or just another dodge (it certainly didn’t work) is uncertain, but the fact that he could make such such a statement and then back it up was eye-opening. After listening to his comments, I could only state that if we really don’t make an effort to learn what the document both is and was meant to be, then the political situation would only continue to fester. Surprisingly, he nodded and then moved to take care of his lesson.
The kids are absolutely ill-informed about the world and their place in it, and some of that is on us as parents. But they’re not completely unaware and from what I hear from my two eldest, are irritated at the state of things. The austerity meme is percolating through their walls of indifference and they’re actively questioning why the school budget for the Arts is decimated while there’s money for installing surveillance cameras in every classroom. For them, it’s both a question of priorities and whether such a degree of watching is either safe or necessary. They’re also listening to their friends who are now in college and beginning to grasp the difficulties they face as we’ve managed to give away the employment farm and are on the cusp of an economic downsizing on a generational level. Should they pay greater attention to the Constitution? Absolutely, as now two members of the political class – the North Carolina governor and the former head of Obama’s Office of Management and Budget – are questioning whether we should just either not hold elections or turn the business of state to appointed councils to avoid that nasty political bickering; if Ron Paul’s libertarian beliefs and punk rock are what motivates our present punkers and future leaders to read the Constitution, then I plan to take my kids to the Warped Tour concerts for as long as they’ll want to go.