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AdLib On March - 31 - 2010

The GOP appeals to the child in people (just look at the cartoonish characters representing it in the media and Congress).

The child they appeal to is the one that throws tantrums, beats up weaker kids for their milk money, is scared of people and things that are different, lies to escape responsibility for its actions and solipsistically believes that the most important thing in the world is what it personally wants, fears, hates, thinks and feels.

So should anyone be surprised that the current strategy of the GOP for dealing with the ramifications of their whipping up hatred and racism in society, their hypocritical sex scandals and financial improprieties is to turn to Democrats and sneer, “I know you are but what am I?”

The discourse in politics from the GOP hasn’t degraded as much as it has regressed. It is elementary school. Except 6 year olds know the difference between a lie and the truth, they get along with classmates of all races and they feel guilt when they get caught doing something wrong. It is kind of sad that one of the two major political parties in this nation is less mature and responsible than 1st graders.

The problem for the Dems in this is that there is a reason that the “lowest common denominator” is called “lowest”. The more crass and simplistic comments are the best understood by the widest amount of people. I mean, think about Reagan and Bush with their “Evil Empire” and “Axis of Evil”. I’m sure to the most devout GOPers they thought Bush was saying, “The Axes of Evil” and Evil would be coming to attack like the killers in a slasher movie.

Remember, under Bush we were going to defeat evil? Huh? Like Evil is hiding out in an abandoned warehouse in Gotham City? I’m surprised Bush never declared war on Bad Feelings too.

The unfortunate fact is that as good hearted and considerate as many Americans are, far too many are just not mature. They may have an adult body but inside resides a child working the levers. And as most are aware, children will believe almost anything their parents or an authority figure tells them. Especially if it’s stated as absolute fact. Or if it’s really scary.

Tell a roomful of children that if they get slapped on their back while crossing their eyes, their eyes will stick forever like that and some will fearfully accept that as fact. Tell a nation of adults that a health care reform bill actually has death panels to kill granny and some will fearfully accept that as fact.

American society, that is, American capitalist/corporatist society, has been conditioning generations to have a delayed adulthood, to remain “kids” even after they grow up.

Years ago and in many societies around the world, even more primitive ones, there was definition between childhood and adulthood. When you became an adult, you put away childish things. In civilized society, a boy would trade in his short pants for trousers when he became a man. In primitive societies, children would go through a scarification ritual to forever alter and change from a boy to a man.

The ritualization of becoming an adult is missing in today’s society and so many do not make any transition. Yes, there are Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs, Sweet Sixteens and Quinceaneras but they seem to be more symbolic than transformative today. Now, this is not an attempt to create a new interest group demanding the return of scarification or short pants. It is merely an observation that there doesn’t seem to be a division anymore between children and adults.

As any commercial for Dave and Busters demonstrates (in case you haven’t seen, it’s a Chuck E Cheese’s for adults).

Years ago, kids and especially girls were restricted from wearing jeans at school (in some schools, girls were barred from wearing pants and had to wear dresses or skirts). Today, parents can and some do wear the same style pants and shirts as their kids. They play Wii as much as or sometimes more than their kids. They get annual passes to theme parks. Adults eat kid food which corporate America has renamed “comfort food” so adults will feel good about it. Adults watch “comedies” which use endlessly recycled immaturity-based humor such as getting smacked in the groin, cruelty to animals and pee and poop jokes to get laughs.

Hey, I like a bite of mac and cheese while playing the latest Super Mario on my Wii after watching cartoons (er, I mean “animation”) on my huge plasma TV (one of my many “toys”) after picking up a Starbucks Mocha Frap (“milkshake”) on my way from the mall where I bought a bunch of new clothes that look just like what the kids are wearing and after I got my hip new haircut that looks just like Robert Pattinson’s because I’ve read the Twilight books and have seen both movies as I did with Harry Potter. And if my daughter ever questions me, I remind her who the adult is…after doing substantial research to verify.

Here’s the thing, if we can stipulate that child-like thinking is the easiest to manipulate and dominate, is not erasing the line between childhood and adulthood a boon to those who would most like to influence society? Does the unending childhood of Americans, the corporate and GOP political mantra impressed on the public of “Don’t worry about being selfish and self-indulgent, you can have it all, you deserve it!” not only appeal to the children in everyone but validate giving in to it?

As kids with credit cards (or home equity lines of credit), this nation swarmed the candy and toy stores, happily gratifying themselves with little thought of a bill ever coming and the same banks that lured them into doing so were actually financially entrapping them and stealing everything else that wasn’t nailed down. Was this a coincidence, that the banks fostered people acting irresponsibly like children so they would be burdened with debt and distracted while the nation’s wealth was robbed?

Let’s complete the circle now. Economically and politically, the most ideal population to be manipulated is one that thinks and acts like a child. Critical thinking is something that’s acquired with time and growing up. Principles that one lives one’s life by and stand by are also acquired by growing up. So, an adult who is just a grown up child is not much better equipped to avoid being manipulated than an actual child.

And I think this is what we’ve seen in quite a visible way in our society recently. The Teabaggers are tantrum throwing brats and bullies, beyond reason and reality. They have been given permission to hate or vent their fears impulsively just as children would. They are easily convinced of the most ridiculous and outrageous lies by the authority figures they trust, just as children would be. They don’t have the intellectual tools for self-awareness to see how they are perceived nor to question what really is the truth.

And my experience with Repubs has mostly been like talking to stubborn, grown up children who are more often than not, self-centered. “I don’t want to pay MY money for taxes, I want MY country back, I don’t want MY money paying for other people’s health insurance, I want MY religion as the law of the land, if MY candidate doesn’t win then the winner is not MY president, if you’re not just like ME then you’re MY enemy.”

It seems intuitive that the more of a child one is, the more one should connect with the corporate and GOP mindsets (which also collaborate on the constant and publicly broadcast delusion, “Just like every other American, YOU will be a millionaire one day!”). They pander and encourage child-like behavior and thinking in the public and benefit greatly from it.

Yelling, spitting, breaking things, threatening, throwing tantrums, whining about how no one listens to you or does what you want…that is today’s GOP.

So, if the GOP gets in trouble for something they’ve done, of course they’ll sneer, “I know you are, what am I?” If people with different color skin get what these people want for themselves, of course they’ll say, “No fair, that doesn’t count! You cheated!”.

This should not be a surprise. What is disappointing is how many adults in America see Peter Pan as a role model.

Categories: GOP, Observations, Society

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

74 Responses so far.

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  1. escribacat says:

    Great post, adlib. This does seem to be a particularly “American” trait, the old “I want what I want and I want it now” attitude. I see it on both extremes of the political spectrum — far left and far right. I think we are programmed to expect this. As kids we are groomed to expect amazing happiness when we grow up and when it doesn’t pan out, it’s TEMPER TANTRUM time.

  2. kesmarn says:

    Then there’s the student who was not happy with the way a question was worded on a test and didn’t want to wait until class was over to get things straightened out.

    The first part of the video is obscured a bit due to the camera operator’s finger being over the lens, but things get a little clearer and more dramatic further into the vid.


    • escribacat says:

      Interestingly, I saw this video posted elsewhere — probably HP — but the beginning part where she was disrupting the class was left out. It was just the arrest part that was posted.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Whoa! I’m glad the cops took her away! There is no excuse for her behavior, and you know what else? Why are drinks allowed in the classroom?

      Perfect example, Kes, of the breakdown in respect and maturity.

      • kesmarn says:

        Yes, Cher! I thought it was interesting that she felt the instructor was responsible for “making” her act like this. If that silly instructor would just sit down, be quiet and do as she was told, everything would be fine!

  3. Kalima says:

    Great post AdLib and all I have to say is this. :)


  4. Chernynkaya says:

    This wonderful post also brings to mind something Boomer (I think!?) posted about Learned Helplessness. Here’s the video but I think more broadly, it really speaks to the issue of corporate paternalism (and I don’t mean that in the altruistic way).


    I think in addition to Learned Helplessness, we have a problem with distraction via the availability of tech toys. So we are kept not only immature and seemingly helpless, but many of us also tell ourselves we have ADD-- we can’t help ourselves. Pharma is a culprit here too. There are psycho-pharmaceuticals for shyness, for depression, for sleeplessness, anxiety and for attention deficit. Now, I believe in medication for the truly necessary ailments of the above conditions, but I am just wondering how they contribute to our immaturity.

    • Khirad says:

      Thanks for making the distinction. I get emotional about this. Big Pharma is indeed culpable, people do indeed get overprescribed, but the nature-only people do tick me off. Think of it like cholesterol medication. When you’re truly out of whack, it isn’t always just a passing feeling. Medication may not be the answer, but it does help people when properly dosed and followed up on with proper steps taken in addition. It is certainly not a fix-all. When you take cholesterol meds, you would have to change your diet and sedentary lifestyle for example.

    • AdLib says:

      Cher, great comment and thanks for the video. I didn’t know the formal term for this but I know how it works on people.

      I do think that electronics are bright shiny toys that keep people child-like. Computers (and blogging) are an exception, they aren’t passive. TV and Wii/xBox are pre-designed entertainment which is technically passive, one follows along instead of creating.

      And you are right on the money, the pharma industry has turned normal human emotions, sensibilities and feelings into syndromes that can be solved with a pill.

      I am not a believer in ADD and it has been documented that kids have been over-medicated on Ritalin for hyperactivity and ADD…which in most cases means, being kids.

      And when kids learn at a young age that whenever they can’t concentrate, it’s an illness that needs medicine, pharma has them.

    • choicelady says:

      This is awesome. It does not surprise me, but it does distress me that it is THAT easy to hurt even older kids this way. We do build in success/failure standards that are utterly arbitrary -- and yes, built around the corporate model of zero sum win/lose. Right/wrong answers to complex issues. Think of the teacher who put on “Snow White” as a play for 5th graders -- and made all the Black kids be dwarves while the white kids got starring roles. Jaime Escalante died yesterday -- Stand and Deliver -- who did not accept or believe kids would fail IF teachers believed in them and helped them learn. Too many teachers tell kids right from the beginning -- you can’t do (fill in the blank.)

      Lucky for me, when people told me I could not do something because of (fill in the blank) it simply pissed me off so much I did it. I wish more girls had the “Show ya!” attitude, but too many cave because they know no options. Boys have the problem in different ways. And overall, learned helplessness generates manic purchasing of toys to fill in the emptiness, hope they will finally make us matter. And Bad Bosses make us work harder and longer and with less humanity for fear we have no workplace power and will be fired if we don’t do what they say. We feel utterly dependent on what they tell us to do.

      Learned helplessness is the result of an entire society that rewards bullies and disposes of the cooperative, the pacific, the kind, the compassionate.

      We who are older may frown on the slacker generation, but in some ways they are more honorable than those who cave in to learned helplessness. They are often forging new ways of living and being together, more cooperative, less racist, less exploitative. Oddly the kid with the droopy pants may ultimately be the salvation of the world if he or she has rejected learned helplessness and all it implies. At least I hope so.

  5. Khirad says:

    I had some points to add, really, from more than my fair share of observations dealing with childish bullies ‘over there’ but I got distracted by this girl on her Wii:


  6. javaz says:

    Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with the immaturity and childishness is the lack of civility.

    One person that I hold responsible for crass childish behavior and bullying is Rush Limbaugh.
    I’m uncertain if anyone else so crass existed on national airwaves before the era of Rush, and if they did, I never heard of him.

    I see ‘kids today’ not only back-talking to their parents, but yelling at them and I mean little kids.

    There have been numerous postings on youtube and in the news about a pre-teen shoving and yelling at a school bus driver because the bus driver admonished the girl to behave.

    And then the parents show up just as angry and boorish as their young teen in shouting that the bus driver was picking on their daughter and the school had no right to punish the daughter with detention.

    How many teachers must face confrontational parents when they call them in to tell them that their child is failing in school or misbehaving?

    It’s all NOT my fault, NOT my kid’s fault, but it’s your fault!
    You’re picking on my child!

    All I know is that when I was small we were taught to respect our elders and teachers and those in authority and I’ll even go as far to say that we feared adults, including our parents.

    And then came Rush Limbaugh, touted as the voice of regular Americans, and people heard his rantings and outrageous behavior to callers-in that disagreed with him and things have gone downhill since, imho.

    We need to somehow regain civility in this country and as a society.
    We must reestablish boundaries for what’s acceptable and what’s not.

    It does take a village and all of us, especially those in power whether that power is as a parent, teacher, an elected official or an on-air personality in being role models for each other and our children.

    Heck, even the Catholic Church is playing the blame game in blaming homosexuality and not pedophilia for the scandals rocking the Vatican today.

    That’s certainly not good leadership.

    Personal responsibility is a great slogan, but we all need to put that slogan into actions or our society will continue to deteriorate.

    Is there a solution?

    I think so but it’s going to take a very long time.

    But we can all try to act with civility to each other, even those we disagree, and hopefully that will catch on and be just as contagious as a smile.

    • SueInCa says:

      Perhaps a good game of pay it forward should be started. Do something nice for someone and when they (hopefully) say thank you, tell them not to thank you, but pass it on to another person. Liberty Mutual does have a good commercial, more people should be paying attention. Doing the right thing and letting it spread…………..

    • KQ says:

      Great point javaz I was thinking the same thing. We have a society where even as adults too many people succumb to the peer pressure of the clique they feel like they belong to on the right or left. I think the right behaves much more divisively by nature it always has been more a philosophy of exclusion but the left is not immune to the peer pressure put on them by other progressives as well.

      • AdLib says:

        That impulse to conform, peer pressure does seem to have its roots in childhood.

        All the other kids are doing something and peer pressure comes into play.

        People can revert into childhood mode when in a group.

        And you are absolutely right, there is no monopoly on incivility, Dems can be just as uncivil. But in reality, as they are in power, they have no huge reason to be so right now and thus this is primarily a Repub behavior.

        • KQ says:

          I think the American public is more dangerous than being innocent infants or curious children, we are petulant, narcissistic, materialistic, angst ridden, sex obsessed adolescents which is much worse.

    • AdLib says:

      Civility is the action of an adult. It should not be expected of children.

      Rush acts like a bratty child, of course he’s not civil. Of course the teabaggers yell at town halls and scream and spit at black people and Dems, they’re angry, insecure children.

      One shouldn’t expect for civility from those who are emotionally children.

      To raise the quality of dialog in this nation, there’s got to be a lot of growing up.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Perhaps it takes the Great Recession to force people to grow up fast. I hope so. In fact, in that regard, it might have been better for our national maturity to be forced into adult responsibility.

        • AdLib says:

          When you think about it, the generation that made it through the Depression were thrifty, responsible with their money and not crazy about borrowing money.

          They paid off their houses and left the equity where it was.

          Nothing like living in desperate times to make one adopt a very mature and pragmatic view of finances.

          • javaz says:

            And they lived in fear, at least my parents did, of it happening again so they continued to save, save, save and live well within their means for the future.

            My parents understood poverty and what it meant to lose everything and go hungry, and then quickly on the heels of the Great Depression came WWII and that set off another age of fear as that war affected everyone.

            If my parents were alive today they would shake their heads at the complaining and yes, whining because we truly have no idea what they went through and did to survive.

            As long as we had a roof over our heads, food on the table and bed to sleep in, all was good.

            We didn’t need the jumbo flat screen TVs, more than one car, or an elaborate home with fancy furnishings.

  7. SueInCa says:

    Great post. America and it’s kids are just like you say, we allow ourselves to be manipulated into a vicious cycle of info/buytoys-mania. We went through a recent period where people trusted their government to a fault. We bought the “everyone needs to own a home” mantra of the Shrub and his minions and the call to “go shopping” after 9/11. All of the distractions were deliberate so people would hopefully miss the rape and pillaging of our economic system and our liberties.

    Those of us who stayed living within our means and did not use our homes like ATM machines, were ridiculed as not having the foresight to take advantage of a hot market. If we sold and bought responsibly and refused the zero amoritization loans, we were crazy. Well it looks like in the long run all those people who said we were crazy are really the crazy ones.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks Sue!

      Glad you mentioned 9/11 as a call to go shopping, what greater evidence is needed as to how citizens are treated as ignorant children to be exploited for their naivete.

      Your description of being responsible instead of raiding your home’s equity reminds me of the classic fable of the grasshopper and the ant.

      Wonder if the Greeks had a housing bubble in Aesop’s day?

      • KQ says:

        Yup and the cry of millions of Americans who said “why do they hate us?” was evidence of this childish attitude. Anyone who was paying attention knew why Western culture, especially American culture collided with the culture in the Mideast.

        • AdLib says:

          YES!!!

          I thought it was terribly insulting that the MSM pounded the meme that many oblivious Americans wondered, “Why do they hate us?”

          Where the hell were they for the last 60 years?

          They kinda forgot about Israel and Palestinians? The Shah of Iran? Saudi Arabia’s oppressing of its people?

          The past just doesn’t exist for children, only the present.

          • KQ says:

            That’s why it’s so frustrating dealing with Netanyahu who is a childish right winger when we finally have an adult as an honest broker in the Mideast that is serious about seeking peace between Israel and Palestine.

            Your last line is spot on.

            • AdLib says:

              Isn’t that also the problem for Obama dealing with the GOP? He tried treating them like adults, they just dissed him for it because as petulant children (adolescents may indeed be a more exact characterization) they don’t understand nor respect it.

      • SanityNow says:

        you mean we can’t just consume our way out of depression?!

        • AdLib says:

          Good thinking! Maybe the best way to deal with our depression is a continent-sized container of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream that we as a nation eat and by the time we eat ourselves to the bottom, our depression will be gone!

          But it will be replaced with coast-to-coast guilt.

          • choicelady says:

            There will be double guilt from the much bigger waistlines from all that ice cream! “Does this Depression make my butt look fat?” ” ‘Fraid so, honey.”

            So we’ll eat more, on credit, and the whole thing starts all over again.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              C’Lady-- I have to sign off now but please see my response to you yesterday about the wheat matzohs! It’s on the History of the World post thread.

              Sorry to run, but duty calls!

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    Another symptom of delayed adulthood? Obesity! Kids in a candy store.

    • AdLib says:

      “You can have it all!”

      McDonalds needs you to be a kid, so does Coke and Pizza Hut and Nintendo.

      Because adults consider cause and effect when they make decisions. Children are impulsive and want what they want.

      What has been causing the obesity crisis? The self-indulgement of adults, for themselves and their children. “Little Bobby just loves his Cheetos, how can I say no?” Because you don’t want him to lose 20 years of his life when he grows up?

      Adults understand sacrificing short term desires for long term achievements. Children don’t. No wonder American Capitalism doesn’t want adults acting like adults.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        And as you point out about corporations turning us into consumers, advertising has reinforced our societal childishness. Car ads immediately come to mind, as does all fast food advertising.
        Who is this ad aimed at

        • AdLib says:

          How about the top 5 movies of last year?

          1. A DIGITAL CARTOON -- Avatar -- $740,916,066

          2. A MOVIE ABOUT A TOY -- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- $402,111,870

          3. A CHILDREN’S BOOK -- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- $301,959,197

          4. A TEENAGE GIRLS’ BOOK -- The Twilight Saga: New Moon -- $296,621,418

          5 A DIGITAL CARTOON -- Up -- $293,004,164

          • KQ says:

            Great point!

            We saw a very cute Korean movie on Sundance called “I’m a Cyborg but that’s OK” which would be a good date movie to catch sometime.

            • AdLib says:

              I’ll keep my eye out for it. Funny thing is today I was thinking about foreign films. That used to be a big thing, going to the art houses to see foreign films. Today, they can barely get into theaters and those that do don’t typically stay there for long.

              Last year I saw the Baader-Meinhof Complex which was a powerful, based on true events, story about a group of citizens becoming militant to oppose an oppressive German government…and how corrupt they became in their pursuits.

              Very poignant and fascinating in these times but too few people will ever get a chance to see it. Instead, they got to see, “Alvin and the Chipmunks, -- The Squeakuel”.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            Unbelievable! The superhero movie trend says it all, I think. And then there’s pop music. Horrendous “songs” like “Hollaback Girl” and “My Humps” become big hits. Oy!

  9. Chernynkaya says:

    Let me add another thought: The rise in popularity of ‘reality’ shows also contribute to the glorification and normalization of arrested development. People are famous for behaving like children and for atrocious behavior. There is no longer any sense of shame at childish behavior when you can get a reality show for it.

    • AdLib says:

      So true! Hadn’t thought of that but I do agree that reality programming does appeal to the child in people. The key element of most reality programming is watching the humiliation or degradation of others.

      Yes, people watch American Idol and Dancing with the Stars to see people with talent but what gets as much if not more attention are the people who are failures.

      Kids like to see others who are worse than them, it makes them feel better about themselves to say, “Bobby was talking in class and got punished!”

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Idol and DWTS are junior high popularity contests that have little to do with talent.

        • choicelady says:

          Any show that features Tom Delay in a skin-tight red jump suit is good only as an emetic.

        • AdLib says:

          Bullseye!

          I haven’t and don’t have the interest to watch either of those shows.

          But you are so right, the high school popularity contest…for adults!

          • choicelady says:

            That said, I loved following the success of Susan Boyle. She has an amazing voice, and with a lot of coaching, she has become quite lovely, poised, yet still funny and natural. No one my age is anyting but happy for her and for her dream come true. Part of our refusal to age is fine -- I’m a “certain age” and can still sit cross legged on the floor, squat and rise without even grunting and with no hands, and I’m glad because it means I’m in good shape. I did catch a glimpse in a store mirror though -- I am beginning to look my age (Gasp! Horror!) but I decided I actually LIKE it OK, so I’ll not let it keep me up at night.

            We fear death because we fear the loss of options. We are the narcissistic, “I’m worth it” generation that cannot abide limits. I know there’s an element of that in me, but I also know I currently have NO debt, none, and I’m fine with that far more than I’d be with a lot of whizz bangs and the wolf at the door.

            I hope one thing comes out of this recession/depression -- more of us working together and more of us with peace of mind. That would be very much worth it.

  10. Chernynkaya says:

    Right on the money, AdLib

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks Cher!

      It’s the inafantilization of America. Hell, people even call their homes, “cribs”.

      Many people are afraid of getting old, they prefer to delude themselves into seeing themselves as young forever…and thus, immortal. How can one die if one is eternally young?

      And society now gives its thumbs up to adults acting like children. The reasons include that, like kids, it keeps people focused on wanting more “toys” and “candy” instead of being responsible with their spending. So corporations make a lot of money on extended childhood.

      And banks get wealthier as people casually dig themselves into permanent debt. How many people will ever pay off the amount of credit card and/or mortgage debt they acquire?

      And it is easier for the corporately owned party, the GOP, to manipulate the public into voting for and supporting what they want when they think and act like children.

      This is no coincidence in my mind. Gradually transforming the nation from citizens into consumers is just another phrase for turning responsible adults into malleable children.

  11. whatsthatsound says:

    It’s time for a War on Evil!


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