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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006 12:37 am

Power ("Sorry, Sorry Night") politics

The ‘wedged-in’ generation’s last shot at power

     They held no power      They did not know how      Perhaps they’ll hold some now
Born in the late 1930s and early ’40s, wedged in between the Greatest Generation and the baby boomers, they are few — and Ike Eisenhower lied to ’em. Ike went on TV in 1960 and told them that the U2 Gary Francis Powers was flying when it was shot down over the Soviet Union was a weather-monitoring plane — not a spy plane. Then Nikita Khrushchev showed evidence proving otherwise. It was the first time anyone realized that presidents bent truth — and it destroyed the spirit of the wedged-in young folk so much that they would spend their adulthood not participating, politically inactive, and being considerably unaware. In 1960 the Greatest Generation thought that television was magic, so they dismissed Ike’s “episode” entirely, named schools after him, and increased the age at which people younger than they would be eligible for full Social Security benefits. The Greatest Generation was — active! In 1960 the boomers were too young to stay up and watch Ike’s broadcast, and so they grew up, always politically active — first as hippies, who protested the Greatest Generation, and later as insurance salesmen, who sold ’em whole-life policies at inflated premiums to get even for the Social Security age scam. The Greatest Generation’s ranks are thin now, and boomers, who vote only when there are no sales pending on Election Day, are seeing their sixties now. They’ll be retiring soon, and retirees vote full-force. So if the members of the wedged-in generation ever care to participate, if they care to hold power, now is the time to strike — while their numbers momentarily give them muscle; now, before the boomers overwhelm them and pass a law to mandate national whole-life insurance. It’s not an easy game for the wedged-ins because they were never part of a group — they were always powerless “individuals” with no group accord, individuals unaware of political gamesmanship. They’d never played They did not know how Perhaps they’ll try it now So they convened, in Springfield, Ill. It was early afternoon (because wedged-ins can’t drive after dark). One delegate from each late-1930s/early-’40s year attended — each delegate was given proxy for all others sharing his or her year. Confused about group process, they sat quietly until Mabel Simmons (’40) suggested that they start at the political grass roots because she’d heard someone from an empowered generation say that you must. Because they were here anyway, why not the Illinois gubernatorial race? They’d endorse one candidate, throw their newfound weight behind that candidate — if that candidate would spearhead a move to impeach Eisenhower. When Hank Turgid (’36) contended that, at 116, Ike was likely dead instead of president, they sat again, silent. Finally Yanks Avatar (’41) suggested that they just vote for someone — anyone! They tried. Result: One vote each for eight different 2005 Chicago White Sox players, two votes for “an unnamed crony.”
Yanks suspected the O’Brien twins of the crony vote because Tom (born at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31, 1943) and Mike (born at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, 1944) both had low-number license plates.  In a fit of ethics, it was decided by an 8-2 vote that you can’t vote for cronies. Next vote: Eight Sox players and two votes for “an unnamed unindicted co-conspirator.” After 11 ballots with the same “unnamed” intrusions, Eric Hasburg (’37) pointed out that it was getting late and that unless they wanted to drive “after dark” they had better do something — fast. By an 8-2 count they dictated that you could vote only for “named” people. The O’Brien boys then played their trump card. Tom forced a delay by having a mild stroke. As the shadows grew long and longer, eight sweating delegates ground car keys into their palms, to the point of blood. Mike waited, and waited, and then . . . made a motion that ethics be set aside — because of the “time.” Tom made a calculated recovery and seconded the motion. With darkness just minutes away, the others panicked into agreement. Final vote: • The Eisenhower Expressway will henceforth be called the Mike Expressway: one vote. • Tom O’Brien for governor: one vote. • Eight ballots disqualified because of bloodstains. Still in panic mode, eight people speed-waddled to their cars, drove to their one-block-away motel, and made it safely just as the sun set. They held no power then They hold no power still Perhaps they never will  The O’Brien boys changed the 1943 and 1944 dates on their birth certificates back to the correct 1953 and 1954, sold an unneeded insurance policy to a minimum-wage 81-year-old bellhop as they left, and leisurely drove back to Chicago in the dark of night!
With apologies to Josh Groban, who wrote the lyrics for “Starry, Starry Night,” and Vincent van Gogh.
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