Opinion Columns & Blogs

Seth L. Ewing: New values for today's youth

A new year and a new era.

This Jan. 20 we will see President-elect Barack Obama and his administration sworn into office. For many it will be a breath of fresh air. For others it will be a decline in conservative values in America.

Whatever the case, popular opinion seems to be nearly unanimous that President Bush and his administration were a disaster and that a new presidency will be a welcome change. This election, many young people voted who had never voted before.

By young, I am referring to the college-age demographic. There are those who argue that this election was stolen when a clever and hip politician from Chicago fooled a bunch of fanatical young people into voting for him on the intangible premises of "hope and change."

Those who make that argument break the first rule of adulthood: never accuse your adversaries of being stupid.

As a college student, I don't necessarily consider most students stupid, so call me biased if you wish.

But then why are students in school to begin with? Is it because they don't know anything? I would beg to differ.

I argue that America's young people have grown up. Based on my own experience as a veteran of Iraq, war forces a person to grow up. This occurs whether you are in a combat zone, as I was, or in a moderately sized city such as Merced, watching the evening news.

Wars force a person to start thinking and questioning values and authority.

As a liberal and forward-thinking person, I consider it unfortunate that it has taken three failed wars to change the way the public thinks. The three wars are the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the "abstract" war on terror.

It seems that until now there has been a serious resistance to change. I argue that for a long while, the Republican Party has been the most popular and the most dominant, and thus our young people have been raised Republican and/or conservative.

With this mindset it made it nearly impossible for any young person to feel comfortable crossing over to the "dark side" of the Democratic Party.

The reason for this is the overturning of the Equal Time Rule that ensured many different viewpoints in the media. For example, if a conservative speaker spoke for 30 minutes, then a liberal or progressive speaker had to be given an equal time to state his or her case or make a rebuttal.

Because the Republican Party was the most popular, theirs' was the only viewpoint offered in the media. Dissenting views were never even acknowledged, or if they were given space and time, they were misportrayed.

Commentators such as Rush Limbaugh came to great prominence during the '80s when the Equal Time Rule was overturned.

It is worth noting that conservative commentators Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck dropped out before attaining even a two-year degree or never attended college at all.

Call me an elitist, but these are not the people we should be letting influence our decisions.

Most young people these days are concerned with current events, regardless of whether adults acknowledge their presence on the political playground.

Even young people with no interest in the affairs of government have sometimes asked the question: "Will there be a military draft in the future?"

This obviously is a self-interested concern. The draft, after all, was far more responsible for the anti-war movement in the '60s than any other factor. You'd protest to save your hide.

Today, young people realize that there are problems with current norms.

Merced College continuing student Eric Brammer said: "For the past eight years the agenda has been external and not what is happening in America; instead it has been overseas issues. The difference was that Obama brought the focus here. To be fair, McCain said the same thing, but he didn't want to end the war, which was a contradiction."

Merced College graduate Zachary Doiel remarked that "at a glance McCain was talking about war, and Obama was talking about education."

I agree with this remark. It seems to me that the warmongers have always been against education. Would an educated person agree to invade two countries for pre0emptive reasons? I do not think so.

I believe that for a long time there has been a culture of apathy and fear. It is only reasonable that we throw out these old values and replace them with hope and change.

Specialist Seth L. Ewing is an Army combat veteran of two tours in Iraq. He now studies journalism at Merced College.