Tony D. Senatore
"I'm the spokesman for the OK Boomer generation

America Has the Democracy It Deserves: Part Two

Photo: Tony Senatore: all rights reserved

The 1960s was one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. The civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the subsequent anti-war movement defined the era. Regardless of your political party affiliation or whether you supported the war or civil rights, one cannot help but respect how activists organized, mobilized, and ultimately succeeded in ushering in systemic change without social media or the internet. Unlike today, when Americans think that putting a sign on their lawn that says “We Stand With Ukraine” while sipping on a Starbucks mocha frappuccino or signing a online petition after their Peloton exercise session counts as activism, the lesson of the 1960s is crystal clear; whether you believed in a cause or did not, you had to make a tremendous sacrifice and stand up for what you believed in, regardless of the consequences. In April of 1967, when offered the choice of going to Vietnam or jail, Muhammad Ali chose the latter and was sentenced to five years in prison and released on bail. He lost his title, boxing license, and for a time, his career. Jackie Robinson risked his life every time he took the field during his ten-year career for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Finally, Martin Luther King lost his life to the cause of civil rights. Fifty-eight thousand two hundred twenty soldiers died in the Vietnam War. One hundred thousand men refused to fight and left the country. Peaceful and violent protests changed the political landscape, and everyone sacrificed by either renouncing America and retreating in shame or supporting it and losing their life. 

American citizens reversed the course of government based on three words: “We the People.” As former President Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address, “We the People” tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. “We the People” are the driver; the government is the car… and we decide where it should go, by what route, and how fast.” This scenario was how American democracy was intended to function.  

Despite Reagan’s view on a properly functioning democracy, Americans are unwilling to do the work necessary to maintain democracy and are lazy, brainwashed, uninformed, and propagandized spectators. When I say doing the work required, I am speaking about fully understanding the difference between equity and equality, their history, and world history. Moreover, they must familiarize themselves with the issues that affect them, write to elected representatives when they are displeased, and vote in their primaries and general elections. If all else fails, they must take to the streets in solidarity and demand change. Sharing memes that mock politicians and political parties and snarky “tweets” do not affect policy. Activism has also changed with the times. In the 1960s, activists were reviled by the American government and considered a “counterculture.” In retrospect, their goals were worthy, their actions selfless, and they helped the oppressed. In 2023, self-serving activists are worshipped by large segments of mainstream media, government, and academia and have partnered with politicians and the corporate world. Anyone who disagrees with their message is considered a persona non grata by many in American society.

As a result, the number of Americans willing to stand up to their government’s war aspirations or social engineering experiments has decreased compared to the 1960s. There have been notable exceptions. In the earliest days of the pandemic, politicians who did not lose a single day of pay ordered businesses to close their doors until further notice. When Governor Phil Murphy ordered the owners of Atilis Gym to close without a plan to secure the future of the business, they defied him and were fined over one million dollars. Parents have questioned their local school boards over COVID policies and curriculum, despite being labeled as domestic terrorists. Ordinary citizens fearful of America’s revitalized bloodlust for war with China and Russia refused to yield to hack politicians who, from their thrones, declined to answer valid questions about America’s role in helping to start World War III. The critical social justice movement is a Marxist-inspired volte-face from MLK’S plan for racial equality and has caused deep division in America. 

Supporters see the movement as a more accurate reflection of life in America. Supporters of CSJ believe that they have “woken up” to racial and social injustice in the United States and believe that our laws and institutions uphold and perpetuate systemic inequality and injustice based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Opponents of CSJ, like Andrew Gutmann, believe that the movement substitutes race for class in a never ending neo- Marxist quest to divide America along racial lines, between oppressors and the oppressed. However, no one has been more fearless than Heather Mac Donald. To her credit, she has no reservations about putting her career and reputation on the line to combat ideas that she believes are toxic, like her 1960s counterparts. In her book The Diversity Delusion, she chronicles the abandonment of meritocracy in favor of forced equality. This ideology sees racism in every interaction between black and white Americans and that “human beings are defined by their skin color, gender, and sexual preference, and that oppression based on these characteristics is the American experience.” Also opposed to CSJ is professor Charles Pincourt. No one has been more feckless when combating ideologies like CSJ and DEI. He has written a book called Counter Wokecraft: A Field Manual for Combatting the Woke in the University and Beyond with James Lindsay.

The book explains the Machiavellian “ends justify the means” strategy activists use to overturn the traditional liberal view of a university, critical social justice’ historical and philosophical antecedents, and identifies who is “woke” in any given situation. Pincourt wrote the book “as an important starting point for academics who want to take back their universities from the jaws of a caustic, anti-liberal, and anti-scientific worldview that is destroying them.” I referred to Pincourt as feckless because the name Charles Pincourt is a pseudonym. In addition to being unwilling to reveal his identity, he is reluctant to divulge the name of the university where he is employed. I find it preposterous that he dares to depict himself with a likeness similar to The Invisible Man in a YouTube video to promote his ideas, much less market and sell as a book to combat CSJ from anonymity. On the other hand, I saw MacDonald make her case at an event I attended at Columbia University. After her appearance, she endured the wrath of students that, rather than ask questions and make legitimate criticisms, inferred she was a tyrannical monster.

In summary, I want to make an impassioned plea to all of my friends who believe that America, with all its faults, is the most incredible place in the world. We must stand up to those that wish to destroy it from the inside out. Suppose you agree with the current direction of the United States, where not even biological sex is a settled issue. In that case, I support your right to usher in the utopia you feel is inevitable. 

Young Americans might redesign America around relatively new ideas like critical social justice and older Marxist ideas like equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. Along the way, I will convince you to see things my way by pointing out that these ideologies have been responsible for death, destruction, and civilizational decline. If you disagree, I will convince you that you might be wrong. I hope to remain friends, regardless of your political party affiliation. I will attempt to thwart your efforts with critical thinking and reasoning devoid of ad hominem attacks and expect the same in return. I am also willing to learn from you. If I am wrong, and the world joins hands in brotherhood while John Lennon’s Imagine blares from strategically placed loudspeakers due to your efforts, I will admit to the error of my ways.

On the other hand, if you are an American who feels that social engineering experiments have gone too far and we are moving in the wrong direction, you have my support. Unfortunately, you might have to put your country before your job. It is a shame that this is necessary, but I see no other way. If you are afraid to “like” or share Facebook posts or statuses because you fear losing your livelihood, or you compose social media posts to convey your feelings only to delete them in fear five minutes later, you should understand that you are committing authoritarian-like self-censorship, and you are part of the problem America faces today. I foresee a time when Marxist-Leninist self-criticism will soon be a part of everyday life in America. Mao dedicated a chapter of the Little Red Book to this idea. In Stalinist Russia, when party members fell out of favor with the nomenklatura, they underwent self-criticism sessions, producing written or verbal statements detailing their ideological errors and affirming their renewed belief in the party line. If you agree with what I view as the modern-day equivalent of the Ministry of Truth controlling American discourse, be my guest. That is different from the kind of country I want to live in. 

 Regarding the future of America, remember that in the 1960s, like-minded white and Black Americans united for the cause of a more just America and ended an unpopular war without the aid of cell phones and the internet. They were successful because they were willing to sacrifice for their beliefs. Whether you desire rapid societal change or prefer the status quo, all Americans must be willing to do the same again.

About the Author
I was a sociology major at Columbia University, where i received my B.A in 2017, at age 55. My opinion pieces have appeared in the Columbia Spectator, the Tab at Columbia University, and Merion West.