Can Tea Party Teacuppers handle the truth?3/12/2014
There’s this terrifically descriptive term college administrators use these days.
Helicopter parenting (hovering protectively over one’s kids) is creating a new breed of college freshmen university deans call “Teacups” — young people who are so fragile they break down, crack, anytime something doesn’t go their way.
The Atlantic magazine recently reported that colleges are using extreme measures to deal with this as parents are literally lingering around their kids in dorms. The University of Vermont reportedly even hired “parent bouncers” to move mommy and daddy out of the scene at freshman orientation and other ceremonies.
The main thrust of what the Atlantic addressed is expressed in this one sentence: All failures for kids are reframed by too many parents as “good tries.”
When parents provide compliments — admittedly lovingly and heartfelt — for minor achievements or routine accomplishments, kids begin to develop outsized senses of themselves, their places in the world.
This can be awfully dangerous in rural settings like Carroll, Iowa, where, for example, top students and athletes often don’t understand that there are thousands of American achievers like them — or better — in the nation. This is a city of 10,103 in a nation of 300 million-plus. Achievers from Carroll should take their abilities to Chicago or New York or Washington, D.C., to find out if what their praise-happy parents are telling them is true or not.
If these kids can even function in American capitalism at all after constantly being told how special they are.
Which brings us to Rand Paul…
The U.S. senator from Kentucky on Saturday captured the Conservative Political Action Conference’s 2016 presidential straw poll with 31 percent of the vote. Not one of the two dozen other contenders came within striking distance of Paul.
The makeup of the conference, held in Maryland, is not exactly representative of the GOP in Iowa — or anywhere else. It’s peopled by campus conservative activists, the sorts of kids who are in intellectually experimental stages and actually see guiding genius in Ayn Rand, a Russian-born atheist who died in 1982 after peddling a philosophy known as objectivism through works like “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” She believed we all live in a state of nature, that we are but vessels of competing desires and needs, bouncing off each other like so many bumper cars. To do anything outside of one’s own self-interest is to upset the apple cart of life, Rand reasoned.
Yes, yes, here, here, the young conservatives think. This is the kind of world we want.
But can the young Tea Party types — let’s call them Teacuppers — handle the truth of the libertarian endgame?
This year, 46 percent of those voting in the straw poll were ages 18-25, and 42 percent were students, according to the Christian Science Monitor. So they like the idea of legalized marijuana and get edgy with the notion of government snooping.
And in theory, objectivism sounds swell. But when it jumps from paperback pulp or Kindled icons, the unearned self esteem and the entitlements vanish into cold, bare-knuckled capitalism. No one cares what you did yesterday or what you’ve planned for tomorrow. It’s all about production today.
These are the kids whose sports were structured from early ages by adults.
These are the kids whose parents acted like defense attorneys whenever teachers criticized.
These are the kids who, and this is true, have parents who at times will call employers and ask why the precious ones didn’t get the job.
These are the kids, when on the job, expect work to be entertaining, full of self-actualization.
Sure, Rand Paul can make it easier to get high and text and talk without fear of NSA ears.
But are the Teacuppers equipped with even the basics to perform in the high-wire act that is the American economy without a safety net?
If that’s what they really want, the millenials haven’t shown it. Even most conservative opponents of Obamacare have embraced as inevitable the need to keep people on their parents’ health-insurance plan through age 26. There’s no real debate about this.
Measured by a different objectivism than Ayn Rand’s — let’s call it truth and evidence — we have much reason to predict today’s twenty-somethings would be strangers in a strange land — and soon reaching for their parents’ or the government’s hand — in the United States of Rand Paul.
The failed to launch will quickly regret a ride with Rocket Rand, a political ship of state promising to take them boldly where few millenials have gone before — self-reliance. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.