I know everyone is preparing for this evening’s announcement of President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee. Also, this week, President Trump will head to Europe for a NATO meeting as well as a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. These are very, very important developments. I’m quite sure many of you will be tuning in, and the media will have much to prognosticate about.
I want to discuss a more focused, cultural, societal issue that must be addressed for the future of our constitutional republic with ya’ll. Last week, I had the distinct pleasure to sit with a young black man in his early 30s who is an Air Force Academy graduate. He is a Texan, who, after his stint in the Air Force, was accepted into a financial management graduate program with Goldman Sachs and now works with another financial management firm in the area of high-income wealth management. We met over at the Paradise Bakery near the Dallas Galleria Mall. The young man had run into me previously and wanted to meet and have a chat. I was completely humbled by our honest and direct conversation and the highly astute questions he presented. Here again, he was an Air Force Academy graduate.
Yes, he was a conservative, young black man, who, as we talked, embraced the concept of equality of opportunity versus the equality of outcomes. He did not come from a silver spoon background, but he had parents who set high standards, which he obviously has and will continue to meet. The seminal question he posed to me, that framed our entire discussion was: “How do we get my generation, the millennials, to come around?” My response was that they had to put down the participation trophy.
Sadly, we are witnessing a generation that is the result of the insidious notion by some adults that kids should be given something for doing nothing to boost their self-esteem. This phenomenon has become the “culture of the participation trophy,” that worthless little plastic trinket that supposedly made kids on little league fields feel better about themselves. The immediate response from my new friend was total agreement. He had played football at the Air Force Academy and understood working hard to make the team – opportunity. He also realized that the Air Force Academy, as well as all the service academies, rank among the most scholarly institutions of higher learning in our nation. There are no more than 4,000 attending West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy.
And why not?
What these young Millennials must guard against is the new wave of adult stupidity, continuing the nonsense of the participation trophy – the progressive, socialist ideological agenda. The leftists in America are bent on not recognizing excellence and achievement. They want to end such things as Valedictorians and Salutatorians. Heck, you want to be a cheerleader but could not make the cut, just complain to mommy, and all standards and criteria will be dropped. Hey kids, put down the participation trophy, as the left in America is selling you a dangerous lie.
When Barack Obama came out with the campaign theme “Yes We Can” he was not addressing you as an individual being able to accomplish something. He was addressing it as something government “can” do, and that you could not be an individual with dreams (unless an illegal immigrant kid), goals, desires, and determinations to excel and succeed. Obama and his ilk were referring not to the great opportunities America affords, but rather to the outcomes that government can guarantee. For my young Millennial Americans, the generation that gave us the “selfie,” for the left you are not an individual but rather just a number, part of a collective based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, and any other means by which they can classify you.
Think about the most egregious and disrespectful thing an American president could have said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” For the progressive, socialist left, as Barack Obama stated back in Roanoke, Virginia in 2012, individual achievement is irrelevant, unrecognized when it confronts the will of central government planning. And so it is, we now have these delusional adults who promise everything from the right to have a job to free healthcare, free college education, and we know how well the whole right to own a home fiasco ended up in 2008.
The grand scheme of progressive socialism is to render the individual non-existent. There is only one purpose for individuals with this political philosophy: provide the largesse by way of wealth redistribution to resource the grand welfare nanny-state, or as I call it, the dependency society. Bottom line: someone must produce the participation trophies that will be doled out, as promised.
And what happens in societies where this formula, this recipe for disaster is undertaken? Just look at Venezuela, or any other place that touted itself as a socialist country. Millennials, a very important lesson y’all must learn, and quickly, is that a free people are not equal, and an equal people are not free. The reason why you must learn this lesson quickly is because you cannot run to “safe spaces” for the rest of your lives when confronted by the truth. You cannot decry idiotic terms such as “micro-aggression” when facing those with whom you cannot adequately debate, or those who refuse to provide you a participation trophy.
Life is about getting onto the field and playing. Yes, you may get hit and you may get knocked down, but the true measure of a person is not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up. You must learn this lesson quickly because the opioid crisis that is plaguing our young people today is a result of their not being able to cope when they do not get that participation trophy, which comes in many different forms.
My message to the American Millennial generation is to put down the doggone participation trophy. Any and everything worth having is worth earning. Adults have sold you a very bad bill of goods. Being exceptional is cool. And always remember, progressive socialism is all about taking away your stuff. America just celebrated 242 years of exceptionalism, our independence, and it is a place where you can indeed, as the Army tagline once was, “Be All that You Can Be.”
Yes, “you can,” but it starts with putting down the participation trophy and rejecting the enticing, but enslaving, message of the progressive, socialist left. They believe that you cannot, and that if you can, well, you should be punished for it.
And that, kids, ain’t American. Class dismissed.
Allen West is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. Mr. West is a Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center to support its mission to expose and neutralize liberal media bias.