Saturday, September 13, 2008

A caution from the days of yore.

There are an awful lot of issues to consider with political decisions, I won't even attempt to list them but there are plenty of reasons to vote for one candidate or the other.

What scares me is how people latch onto one or two issues and ignore any further evidence that their candidate might not sync up with the sum total of their ideals. To this effect the post for today is motivated by lessons learned near the beginning of the last century. It still holds true, despite the intervening years.

When Americans think of the American civil war we tend to remember massed lines of musket carrying men in gray and blue shooting at each other from across fields and over stone walls. Breech loading and bolt action rifles did exist but most of the soldiers carried barrel loading black powder rifles.

Fast forward from 1865 to 1914. WWI or the Great War as it was called at the time. Fifty years had passed and military warfare was radically different. Industry mass produced vehicles, weapons and gear. Airplanes and balloons allowed artillery spotters to see further than ever and eventually aerial combat and strategic bombing as well as tanks, submarines and vehicle transport all became part of the modern battlefield.

Two very different pictures emerge from the two wars. Each was renowned for huge and ridiculous casualties. The weapons used in the Civil war seem primitive and quaint compared to modern automatic weapons and air power. However for the speed that armies could move and the equipment used on either side the weapons were devastating.

Now imagine you grew up in a world that was still coming to grips with industry. You are trained to march men in big squares to fight pitched battles in the open field with weapons that can fire approximately 3 rounds a minute in the hands of capable soldiers. Your shock troopers ride on horseback and communication between armies in the field and outside command post has to occur through couriers and telegraphs.

That is the army you know and you fight the way you have been trained. Now well into your elder years you are tasked to attack or defend a position. Things have changed since the army of your youth. The enemy carries bolt action rifles, fortified machine gun nests and their artillery fires faster and further than you ever dreamed.

Tactics that work against barrel loading infantry do not work against machine guns, men who can fire three times a minute can do much less damage than men who can fire 40 or more rounds a minute with equal or greater accuracy. Cavalry charges had better be done by tank or you'll wind up with hundreds of thousands of casualties to gain a few grim yards on the field.

I could go on but the point is changing technology demands a change in tactics. For us as a country we cannot afford an old style general who still thinks of the world in terms of horse charge and musket balls. The old-fashioned way should be synonymous with surrender and defeat. Technology, for better or worse, changes at an ever increasing pace and even the most tech savvy people on earth have to retool their skills every few years to keep up.

We cannot afford an old president with old ideas that haven't worked in forty years and will be even less effective as time goes on. The United States of America needs youth and vigor, not bitter old corrupt men who just want to fight our enemies and pillage the world for our own brazen comfort.

We don't need a general at all, we need a Sergeant who has seen enough of the world to understand it but hasn't seen his generation pass beyond their halcyon days. Anyone who longs for the past needs to snap out of it because the future is coming whether it offends you or not.

The old ways need to hurry up and die. And we as young adults, and students, and the bulk of people clawing our way into the economic infrastructure of this country cannot sit back and watch our parents and grandparents fail us by electing a dotard that 'gets it' because John McCain does not get it. He will never understand America under the age of 50 and we cannot afford more incompetence in the white house.

Barack Obama was not my first choice for president, John McCain is my last choice. For the future's sake we must reclaim our status as a scientific superpower, a moral leader to the rest of the world and above all a country that prides itself on freedom and choice, and not some petty third world dictatorship run by a bunch of dusty old farts with more money than they deserve.

Cast your vote for the future, America. Economic and technological inertia will carry us only so far.

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