This was previously posted on www.anton-wahlman.com on or before 2008-02-10:
American tradition is steeped in the history of rugged individualism. In social life, kids were taught to not whine or complain, but to focus on serious things and work hard. In economic life, kids were taught that rewards would come to those who do the right thing, and that there was no government hammock for those who underperform. In national security, kids were taught that America will fight for freedom - not surrender to those who are plotting to kill or enslave us.
We used to call the combination of rugged individualism and common defense of our freedoms the hallmark of The Greatest Generation - those Americans who first went to war against Japan, Germany and Italy on December 8, 1941 and then built up the middle America we inherited several decades thereafter. This was possible for a combination of the three driving forces of modern American civilization: Social morality, economic freedom and defense of liberty against the its enemies.
And so it was that America became - by far - the cominant economic power in the decades following World War 2. In addition, we fought wars in Korea and Vietnam, trying to protect small countries who were on paths to freedom, against communist invasion, enslavement and genocide. A third war, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, is seeing the second tail of clean-up work today.
Almost 67 years after we declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy, I am sensing that the stoic rugged individualism of The Greatest Generation is giving way to something very different. It has been brewing for years with "sensitivity training" at work and "political correctness" at school. Protected classes and subjects have been created, about whom you are not allowed to speak in a certain way for the fear of "offending" someone. Sort of like the Danish cartoons about Mohammed.
We see this most recently in the "celebrity"-crazed culture, where movie stars, singers and other entertainers are suddenly not only endorsing politicians - but also getting significant attention for it. In the past such endorsements would never have happened, and if they did, nobody would take them seriously or give them much attention.
It is a poor reflection of the state of American culture when instead of proposing substantive policies, contenders for the highest office in the land think they can win by surrounding themselves by the people who are featured in the tabloids normally found by the supermarket check-out counters. Supporters of such candidates seem rarely - if ever - capable of identifying any substance advocated by these candidates, but rather such specifics are clouded and cloaked in "change" and other similarly meaningless phrases.
It is a sad statement on the direction of our American civilization when the mentality of our political process has been transformed from the rugged individualism and non-whining of The Greatest Generation, to the whining political correctness - dressed in Hollywood celebrity garb - of this new Girlie Man Generation. So therefore, the biggest question determining the outcome of the 2008 election will be whether The Silent Majority of which Richard Nixon spoke so eloquently, has been transformed from Greatest Generation to Girlie Man.