The End of Innocence in American Politics


by Ed Mattson


Well, here we are at the final chapter in the article I started a week ago addressing the innocence or possibly one might call it “ignorance” of the American public, as we slowly watch our country disintegrate into the political abyss of Washington DC.

Unfortunately wacko candidates didn’t stop with Dr. Benjamin Spock. Others always seem to think their ideas are so important people will flock to the voting booth to support their views. This is insanity on display!

I have to admit I love getting replies from a lot of readers that continue to deny what’s going on around them which makes my case for me. I have had readers say, America is actually improving if it wasn’t for our previous generations screwing everything up. Well, I am certainly not one to condone everything our generation did (I was born in 1944), and I won’t be the first to point a finger at the generation that grew up in the Spock era and drank the Koolaid. Thank God my mother didn’t buy into Spock’s book “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,” which was the proponent of letting the patients run the asylum.

Written in 1946, Spock’s book stressed the importance accommodating our children’s feelings; forget authoritarian rule. My God…how stupid were we to believe “time out” was punishment and that it was okay for children to threaten to sue their parents for trying to impose a little law and order to a child’s behavior.  I’ll tell you what…I heard the best parental response ever when a friend of mine’s child threatened his father that he would report him to the police when the father spanked the snot-nosed little urchin for swearing at his mother. In a calm tone the father said, “Maybe you don’t like it around here and that’s ok, but if you think life at home is difficult, just wait until you get placed in the Foster Care Program!” Later I noticed a sign on the family refrigerator which read, “If you do not like the way you are being raised in this home which will insure you will grow up with the right discipline to deal with life, take action now while you still have all the answers and pay your own way”, Love Mom and Dad.

Spock was wrong on all counts yet some parents slobbered all over themselves after reading his book, and everyone became judgmental of their spouses and other parents, anytime a parent would give their child a swift swat on the butt for mis-behavior. According to the “Spock Doctrine”, a child’s psychological development was stifled by authoritarian discipline; that children should be free to practice self-expression; and that behavior was best controlled by nurturing…wrong on all counts as history has proven.

Children need to be disciplined and while self-expression is an important part of overall development, it must be curtailed by what is right, wrong, and what is acceptable behavior. The best method for this is leading by example, mentoring, and yes…discipline for disobedience and mis-behavior, much in the same manner as touching a hot flame on the stove…don’t want to do that but about once. This is not rocket science. Psychiatry has known about the Pavlovian Response since the mid 1800’s, though we have examples leading back to Biblical times when we were punished and rewarded for specific behavior. If there are no consequences for abnormal or unacceptable behavior, life becomes a highway with no lines and curbs.

What Spock totally misunderstood about human development is that animals, including humans, will gravitate to what makes them feel good (hedonistic) with disregard to their surrounding if there are no boundaries present. In the past 50 years we have raised generation after generation of youth that are behaviorally challenged with each generation becoming worse. We can only teach and mentor from how we were raised and what we know.

No better examples can be found than in the behavior of our politicians who continually get re-elected by passing out largess to the voters who then live only for the next round of goodies even though we simply have no way of paying for them. We overlook a politician’s dishonesty, his/her indiscretions, their failure to pay taxes, their using insider trading information to aggrandize themselves, and everything is fine as long as they “bring home the bacon”.

I know there are some who think this line of reasoning has to be wrong somehow, and I am sure I will get letters saying I am imagining all this, but if those naysayers would take an afternoon and do some reading, they couldn’t help but draw the same conclusions. Spock and his misinformed disciples, bought into these unproven ideas which are actually part of an agenda which runs contrary to every principle that built America. If you are still in disbelief, do a little reading on the People’s Party, a left wing bunch of ne’er do wells, which seems to come up with quack after quack every presidential election cycle, to be their “candidate” for President.  In1972 the People’s Party Presidential candidate was, you guessed it, Dr. Benjamin Spock. His platform called for free medical care, the legalization of abortion and marijuana, a guaranteed minimum income for families and the immediate withdrawal of all American troops from foreign countries. Even today, there seems to be no end to the lunacy as this year’s off-the-wall candidate is…Rosanne Barr!

In the last 50 years, our nation has taken a moral nosedive.

Since 1960, the rate of violent crimes has more than tripled. Hence one must conclude Benjamin Spock and his gang have won the “first three quarters of the game”. “Every day there are news reports of heinous crimes unheard of in America a generation ago. Children murder their playmates, their teachers and their parents. Teenage mothers abandon their newborn babies in trashcans, and every year students commit carnage on their classmates. Our culture has sunk so low that children are no longer safe with their teachers in school or at church – scores of men and women are arrested every year for preying on the children under their care”. Reb Bradley

The first part of this article and the last two articles I have posted on this website were to help us better understand what the heck is going on around us and why. It is hard to get a handle on what ails our great country if we don’t know what is causing it. You can put a bandage on a bleeding gunshot wound to stop the external flow of blood, but still die from internal bleeding. Similarly we can lash out at each other, call each other names by eliciting hate speech, and become so politically divided that we reach the point where we are in America, but that isn’t solving our collective problems.

Like my fellow veterans, most of us, at some point, believed we became part of the military for some greater reason than to just get a GI Bill education, or to pick-up a pay check. Most of us got involved because we wanted to do the right thing so our children would have a better life in a free and productive society. Over the last few years however, many of us have seen so many inequities being doled out to those who have sacrificed for the country and are in many ways bitter toward our government and the people in Washington DC. The promises that were made to us are now being given to the illegal aliens, to freeloaders on our society, and to those who chose not to participate in our country’s opportunities, but rather become leeches on the backs to those who struggle to make the country work and provide for their families. This must change.

Now I want to change gears here and show how the collective damage of the Left, has affected other areas of our society. Let’s start by focusing on Reality TV, and then close on the media in general, for surely they played a large role in getting us to this point and may be the best way to get us out of where the bus has stalled, though I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

What is Reality TV? In theory reality television is programming that presents purportedly unscripted melodramatic or “humorous” situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situations where a prize is awarded. The television viewing audience is given insight to real-life situations, unscripted, unrehearsed, and in many cases becomes part of the program.

Reality TV promises us transformation from Ugly Duckling to Glamour Queen , but such ideas often go awry in real life

There are probably hundreds of shows today which fall into the reality TV category from The Amazing Race to American Idol; from The Kardashians to Jersey Shore; and from Survivor to Master Chef. While I am not a “regular” watcher of such shows, I find the ones I have seen to be as phony as a three dollar bill. Come-on, as a Veteran who has been through “survival school”, can anyone take Survivor seriously? Hells bells, many of their participants wouldn’t last three minutes in a real survival situation. The Kardashians? Give me a break. Where else but Hollywood could someone with absolutely no brains concoct a program that is such a waste of time and convince America that this is real life. Man, if a bird had such brains, it would probably fly backwards.

These shows are not spontaneous, but rather most are contrived, and in many cases, totally unbelievable, with the participants “playing for the camera”,  much like children performing for mom, dad and relatives at a family gathering.  Yet America sits in awe watching the family television (no wonder they call it “the boob tube”), with their collective mouths hanging open, believing it is all real; that people really act like this in real life, and follow the program waiting for the “dramatic conclusion”.

Are children getting the right message when the emphasis in life has them lining up for boob jobs and Botox while in high school?

Like most television these days, from the evening news on the mainstream channels, and even most cable programs, to the weekly Sitcoms, they have to have laugh tracks so the audience will know when something funny just occurred. The regular drama programs where in the producers often try to subconsciously influence the audience with their political believes also drive me nuts.

I know, I know, the naysayers won’t believe that either which is so disheartening. If I am wrong, why then do political dramas most often take the furthest left leaning actors and actresses to portray the bumbling, always wrong, Republicans or conservatives on the screen? Granted most politicians are not the brightest bulbs in the lamp, but always portraying the conservative as idiots is becoming such a turn off. It doesn’t stop at television either. Having Meryl Streep play Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, to me would be like having Barbra Steisand play Annie Oakley in The Real Life Story of Annie Oakley. Still not convinced? How about having Janeane Garofalo play Beth Griffith on the short-lived TV series Criminal Behavior: Suspect Behavior alongside award winning actor Forest Whitaker. When an actor or actresse’s political vent is so over the top, many people, myself included, just cannot tune-in.

Getting back to the reality bunch, many who have been sitting too close to the window fan for years with air being blown through their ears really do believe Joe Millionaire is for real, and that you really can go from Joe Laborer to millionaire with beautiful women waiting at every beck and call. The same group probably watches Jackass and Fear Factor which are shows that feature “dangerous stunts”, but can they be real? In today’s litigious society if anyone believes the stunts are not staged and set-up with maximum safety controls in place then come on over, I have some underwater property to sell you at Buchannan Dam, in Texas.

Well, even if they aren’t real, what real damage is done?  After all some view this as a way to escape everyday trials and tribulations… Right. But what about your children who go out and try to duplicate such stunts. Kids have received serious and permanent brain damage and even killed themselves trying to skateboard down the hand railings that line a set of stairs.

We can say the same for the reality shows that feature a complete transformation of the Ugly Ducking to the Glamour Queen right before our eyes. Sure, it is interesting that cosmetic surgery can perform such miracles, but what about the long-term consequences of such surgery. Society is pushed even further toward believing “beauty is everything”. Fake boobs, butts, lips, cheek implants, hair re-grown, wrinkles removed, and fat liposuctioning that is easier than dieting to control the natural progression of age on the body, are now the focal point of kids in high school getting “boob jobs” and their lips shot full of Botox. It is a world gone mad.

So, as we watch our country struggle with all its problems, and as we have entered into the 2012 Presidential elections many Americans will simply sit back and do nothing to stop the train wreck that will surely occur if we don’t pay attention to what is really important. Do you want to know what is real in life?  20% of the population make things happen; 20% watch things happen; and the rest have no idea anything happen!


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Following his service in the Marine Corps Ed Mattson built a diverse career in business in both sales/marketing and management. He is a medical research specialist and published author. His latest book is Down on Main Street: Searching for American Exceptionalism Ed is currently Development Director of the National Guard Bureau of International Affairs-State Partnership Program, Fundraising Coordinator for the Warrior2Citizen Project, and Managing Partner of Center-Point Consultants in North Carolina. Mr. Mattson is a noted speaker and has addressed more than 3000 audiences in 42 states and 5 foreign countries. He has been awarded the Order of the Sword by American Cancer Society, is a Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow and appeared on more than 15 radio and television talk-shows.