Niagara Gazette

November 13, 2012

BRADBERRY: End of one era, start of another?

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Welcome to the beginning of a whole new era, the dawning of the new normal.

Whether it’s a national sex/spy scandal, or a local domestic dispute, your family, my family, or the new modern family, presidential, or local politics, the world economy, or your own employment situation, the cost of your personal health, or the benefits of Obamacare, our wacky local weather or global climate change, like it or not, ready or not, here we go!

Take politics, for example, if an era can be defined as a distinct period of history or a timeframe marked by a particularly noteworthy event, the current electronic presidential campaign era probably began with the 1960 televised Kennedy-Nixon debates, and it effectively ended last Tuesday night with the most “tweeted” message ever in the history of the Twitter social media universe signally the dawning of a whole new era, thus a new normal in presidential, if not all election politics.

“Four more years,” a tweeted message reference to President Obama’s election victory scored the most tweets-per-second, climbing to record-breaking 327,000 a second when the election results became clear, demonstrating just how fast and potentially powerful the new social media is as it made its presidential election campaign debut.

Think about it, a few years ago, tweets were bird language, now it’s one of the most popular and most effective ways that millions of people can instantly communicate with each other around the corner and around the world.

As the presidential election demographics just clearly demonstrated, a younger, more diverse, in some cases, formerly disenfranchised and much more media savvy electorate is beginning to impact the process in a very big way; if they remain engaged, things will never be the same.

And for a whole lot of us; that’s a very good thing; for others, well, it will take some getting used to.

We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time when you consider what we’ve been through.

The last American Civil War veteran, Albert Henry Woolson, a Union soldier from Antwerp, New York passed away in 1956 at the ripe old age of 109, closing out another era in our history as another one opened up. Though the War was over and the last soldier dead, the battles still raged as the Jim Crow era began, only to be replaced by the Civil Rights era, and now this, the so-called “post race” era.

I can’t help but wonder how many fourteen year olds in 2008 cast their first vote in 2012 without regard to race; how many more in 2016 will do the same and whether the trend will continue?

Can we honestly say that we have put race behind us? Absolutely not entirely as the voter suppression efforts throughout the country recently prove, but in spite of that, if the election results actually reflect the majority opinion, the answer might eventually be yes even though the country might be split in half on other issues.

Obviously, some still harbor deep racial animosities toward one another, but assuming the current voting trends continue, a whole new breed of active voters will be in position for the foreseeable future to fashion this nations destiny giving us all an equal opportunity to address and resolve real challenges and serious issues that will continue to affect all of us regardless of our differences.

But the dawning of this newest era of the new normal could be marked by more than fancy new high tech political campaign strategies; it should be marked by the realization that we have more in common than not, and that circumstances beyond politics may force us together, ready or not, for example ...

As writer Brad Plumer pointed out in the Washington Post on Oct. 30:

• The first nine months of 2012 have been the hottest in the United States on record. (Globally, this has been the eighth-warmest year on record.)

• The U.S. wildfire season this year was the second-largest by area since records began in the 1960s, topped only by 2006. In Colorado, 600 homes were destroyed in the Waldo Canyon fire.

• The biggest drought in half a century parched the Midwestern United States, sent food prices climbing and knocked 0.4 percentage points off third quarter GDP growth.

• The Arctic sea ice melted to its lowest extent on record over the summer.

• A massive hurricane, fueled in part by warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures, just put large swaths of New York City and New Jersey underwater.

More catastrophes like this year’s floods, droughts and extreme weather like Super-storm Sandy should teach us:

• That climate change is real

• That it is affecting our weather

• That the weather does not care about race, nationality, religion, gender or sexual preference, we’re all vulnerable

• That we are unprepared

• That in an emergency, government and industry can only do so much to help

• That we must learn to get along

• That we must trust one another

• That we will have to rely on each other

• That we can survive and succeed in spite of the situation if we plan and act responsibly.

Most importantly, it’s time to stop playing politics, climb down off the cliff, wake up and smell the smoke!

Contact Bill at bill.bradberry@yahoo.com.