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Pass the Buck

President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk with the inscription “The buck stops here.” Truman an avid poke player wanted to specify that he didn’t ‘pass the buck’ to anyone; he accepted personal responsibility for the way the country was governed. A “buck was an article used in a game of poker.” The buck represented the changing of the dealing from one dealer to another to avoid the appearance of cheating. A marker, a buck, would designate who the buck was being passed to.

Evidently, there are no poker players left in the United States. Unlike Truman everyone appears to want to pass the buck. Nowhere is this more evident than in the aftermath of the presidential election. Democrats eager to find a scapegoat have passed the buck. This is nothing new; in 2000 they were passing the buck to Ralph Nader accusing him on costing Al Gore the election.

This time around I am really pissed off that the millennials. Blowhards like Bill Maher are scapegoating the millennials. In June 2015, Maher smugly attacked Bernie Sanders and the millennials pontificating on “Real Time” during his “New Rules” segment that millennials were too eager to embrace socialism attributing this to not having lived through the Cold War and known the Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire. Maher tried to look cutesy saying. “But let’s not romanticize socialism the way conservatives romanticize capitalism. These are economic systems, not your first kiss.” Sounding like Trump saying “They’re [the millennials]” are “too used to getting shit for free” inferring that they were “Entitled and Lazy.”

In late October he said that the millennials could not tell Trump from Hillary and the millennials “haven’t bothered to learn anything.” Indeed the millennials were second only to “Islamic Extremism” as Maher’s favorite whipping boy.

After Hillary’s loss Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook pointed to one particular group to blame: millennials. Mook assumed that younger voters, perhaps assuming that “Clinton was going to win, migrated to third-party candidates in the final days of the race.” He said that the Clinton campaign needed more than 60 percent of young voters to win and only got in the “high 50s at the end of the day,” adding “That’s why we lost.”

I have heard this excuse repeated many times since the November Election and every time I hear it gets me pissed off. The thing that really pisses me off is the presumptuousness of Maher and former baby boomers that are lost in a world of Peter, Paul and Mary patting themselves on the back for protesting the Vietnam War and listening to concerts blasted out of their mind.

Through the years the Democratic Party has become a comfort zone. After all Democrats, according to their logic, are better the Party of Nixon, Reagan and Bush. They blur the images of Kennedy, Carter and Clinton as if they were saviors.

For the life of me I cannot see how the millennials can be blamed for losing the election and for these smug aged revolutionaries can assume that the Democrats had given them so fucking much. That people like Maher can teach them so much when he cannot even distinguish colonialism or spell the word neoliberalism.

The generation pointing the finger at the millennials had free tuition ($50 a semester in 1970) and abundant student benefits while the millennials in California are paying tuition of $3500 a semester (about $10,000 at UCLA and $18,000 at state universities on the East Coast. Millennials have to pay for everything and work two jobs to make it. I have students who eat one meal a day and some who are forced to work as strippers to survive — yet these smug sons of bitches point the finger at the millennials? They wallow in their senior citizen discounts, their tax breaks and Viagra subsidized by Medicare. Maher is the worst of them, considering himself a revolutionary because he campaigns for legalized pot and an intellectual although his knowledge of world history is at a remedial level. According to him, Christianity and Judaism have never engaged in religion wars – it is the Moslems who are to blame for the world’s calamities. .

In 1968 Ronald Regan said that tuition should be raised so students would be too tired to picket. This came to fruition because the baby boomers did not vote. Well did the millennial elect Reagan? Did they elect Bill Clinton who increased poverty by his so-called welfare reforms? Clinton’s whose peccadillos, according to Maher’s logic, had nothing to do with the election of George W. Bush.

Were the millennials the stupid ones who erased the emails? Invaded Libya? Who took unethical or immoral speaking fees from people who should have been in jail? And who ran a lousy campaign. In these instances it was Bernie’s fault.

Go to Boyle Heights and you will see more senior citizen centers than youth centers. Given what I know right now if I lived and went to school today I never would have gotten my PhD. I could not have afforded it.

I am an atheist but I still remember and adhere to the saying “there for the grace of God go I.” The millennials like all generations have the good, the bad and the ugly. They have been handed a world that has been ravaged by neoliberalism, the decline of colonialsm, and racial conflict. In the United States over half of the millennials will earn less than their fathers bursting the illusion of the American Dream.

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RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.

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