I don't mean for my tone to be preachy. I suppose the stridence comes from how little I hear my classmates talk about how to fix things. Not just with law school, but with the world. With the country. And there's so much that needs to be fixed, it's almost overwhelming. I would love for this to be 1988, or 1992 again when it really didn't matter who was running things. Bush/Dukakis - so they'll each tool with some social policies, but the one party always moderated the others. Bush/Clinton same thing. Now a party that half the country didn't vote for gives them no consideration. And that party doesn't even follow the principles of its traditional base! And the Dems would do the same thing. It sucks!
But the contrasts seem so stark now; the stakes for our national character so high. Not in the parties, but in the people. The people in charge are so unprincipled! In both parties! I don't even know if we all know what kind of people we are electing anymore, because we listen to attacks so much and instead of holding them to their words, we convince ourselves of their spin just so we don't feel we made a bad choice. I see it happen all the time! And in Bruce Bartlett's case, when he stood up for conservative fiscal principles he was fired! And David Brooks said, "Bush is the new conservative." Conservatives, you guys need to be careful because his policies aren't conservative and they are proving very unpopular. You guys are going to have your policies tarred, which sucks because generally you all are theh smartest economists. We love the thrill of the argument, but we aren't discussing enough.
And when I sat through Constitutional Law and the professor would ask the class for opinions, nobody would give them. It can't all be out of shyness. Many of the people in the class were moot court competitors. I knew who the Federalist Society guys were, and they never spoke either.
Our professor would raise historical facts that contradicted both Originalist doctrine AND broad constructionist doctrine, and nobody would say a thing. I wish they would have. I would like to hear conservative viewpoints and liberal viewpoints debate Constitutional Law with each other. What a benefit that was supposed to be to law school! Nobody speaks. I did, but I did not want to be "The Talker" or the "Free Space" on law school bingo. Outside of class I didn't have all that much time attend debates and lectures. I was also working 25 hours a week. Besides, I wanted to hear a group of my peers volly with each other, moderated by a knowledgable moderator. He tried. We just didn't respond.
I wish he had been socratic! I wanted to hear perspectives.
But then my Con Law professor would sometimes make fun of students in front of the class. Often it was good natured and fun, and we all had a kick out of it. But often, too, it would be cruel, and it was certain to keep hands down. Because it was only the people who raised their hands he called on. And it bothered me, because I didn't pay to have this short man use his tall brain to make himself feel good at the expense of learning students. And it was nothing socratic.
There's the activists on campus, but it always seems to be the same 30 people. What I mean to say, is my stridence comes from wondering if anyone is paying attention? I'm not saying they aren't, but I am saying I don't see it in class, or when we all go out.
But it's not 1992 anymore, and that's how I was back then when I first started undergrad; but we all still talked casually about politics. People who go to law school are supposed to love history, philosophy and/or politics, because that's all we study.
And it seems like the problems we face--that we are going to be FORCED to face--are right around the corner. And it's going to be all of us--you too giffy, and me--who have to deal with the consequences. And our kids. Whether it's Avian flu (or another contagion), a hurricane or earthquake levels another city, or Asia stops buying our debt, or what if millions and millions of us all of a sudden reached a point where we could no longer pay our debt? That has profound implications for the economy, for our jobs. For our families. And it seems almost likely. Because the credit faucet never ends anymore, and people put their basic needs on cards. It's not just medical or law school, but it's almost every effective institution for bettering ourselves has become super-costly. We are endangering future prosperity. It's like the Goya painting of Saturn devouring his own son. The baby boomers are only in it for themselves, and they only care about getting re-elected and doing whatever it takes in the short term. There's no long-term thinking anymore.
So I don't mean the tone to be preachy, but almost like "oh my God! what are we going to do about all of this?! how are we to make sense of all this?!" And then we are advocating torture, killing kids and retarded people; and we keep secret jails; and so few people don't mind that we have kept people imprisoned for FOUR YEARS with no access to courts, or even charging them. And we shrug off our government shrugging off the 4th Amendment, and spying on us. And the Incorporation Debate is coming back, and that's going to be major.
And people say "terrorism" and I want to be safe too. I mean, I live in New York City. But it's strange that the city that lived through 9/11 never agrees with how that event is used politically. I don't know what that means.
I don't know what any of it means. But I do know I don't hear many people my age (31) and younger talking about it. And it kind of scares me, because we seem so unprepared. And we know about these things. Just like we had a red flag about bin Laden and FEMA had a red flag about New Orleans. New Orleans. One of the funnest, most unique cities we had. I spent a month there one year. It was so fun. And it seems to be dying and choking. And all the money goes to a war, that I supported in the beginning too. But what do I know? It seems like our leaders should have known more than they did before undertaking a war that is now projected to run a Trillion dollars! Trillion! It's like, nobody thought ahead that there might be bigger problems. Remember how the oil from Iraq would pay for itself? I mean, what is going on with us?! Why are we electing these people? There are so few Democrats and Republicans I like, and I don't see why other people can't put aside their local pork-barrelling and elect some people to fix things!
We have no money for all these problems we have to deal with. And God help us, Iran. I'm not preachy, I'm scared. Because so far two major disasters with two warnings. What's next?! There's so much we haven't prepared for. And my place to start is where I'm at: law school, and thinking about how to fix that, because I think there's a better way. Because if we could come up with a system where people could choose how many hours they wanted to work, that would allow for more options. But Giffy your wrong - law firms all have a minimum billable hour and it is usually 2000. CLIENT billable. There's a lot of time in the office you can't bill. That's why you have to stay late, just to get that minimum BILLABLE time. And you work for a cheap client or one that's important, there may be some hours you have to work on a matter you can't bill. It's just the game. And we can't afford not to play it. Not with our debt. And it seems like citizens are going to have to start putting their heads together more to solve some problems, because our leaders are sh*t at doing so.
We lawyers are going to have to be in top shape financially, spiritually and emotionally because if you guys haven't checked, our ranks run everything. That's just a fact. And the solutions are going to have to come from our ranks. And it's going to take a lot of us to spend a little spare time thinking like citizens again. And I don't see it happening. Maybe it's just my school. That's why I came on here. To see if these things resonated with anyone else. I admit, my tone sounds preachy, but it's not meant that way. Maybe declarative to provoke response, but that's not always the most effective method, I concede. My voice is distorted by frustration, and I need to work on that. Plus, people think I'm partisan, and I'm not. I just think our leaders suck. We can keep the exact same numbers, but my goodness can't we fill the seats with some thinkers and compromisers, and all agree to a truce on the social issues tearing us apart. All sides? Gay marriage, abortion, prayer, right to die, medicinal marijuana, etc. Can't we just put those aside, all of us, collectively make some determination to keep the status quo on those isues, and deal with the immediate problems facing us?
I just...don't have any answers myself. I suppose this was my way of yelling it without actually doing so physically in the midst of these large classes, where nobody will even raise their hand to say whether they think Alito should or should not be confirmed. Because the future don't seem so bright right now...and I guess I just wish we'd all start talking about how to fix it, and stop listening to the generation that f**cked it up. And stop hating each other so much.