The Vanishing American Adult by Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse is a book every American needs to read.
While I was reading it, I would often (subtly) recommend it to friends who I felt might benefit from some of the advice and analysis he provides. I was almost always met with the same response: “I don’t like politics.” Luckily for them, The Vanishing American Adult has little to do with politics.
Similarly, when talking to my political friends, they were eager to hear what one of the “hottest,” young, and up-and-coming senators had to say and what policies he was going to suggest. They were disappointed when I described the book to them.
Here is what Sasse does: he identifies one major issue with the current American atmosphere, especially as it pertains to a generation “coming of age,” and takes us on a tour of culture, personal anecdotes and history to express his point. After reading The Vanishing American Adult, I began to think about my own upbringing. The fact that the book gets you to think is, perhaps, the best part about it.
Sasse believes that teens aren’t growing up correctly because parents aren’t raising them correctly and the future of America is at stake if we don’t fix the issue.
After starting the book by outlining his thesis statement, he goes through different aspects of American life and explains how we can improve society. Sasse articulates how we can partake in our day-to-day activities in a manner that trains a generation of young people to not suffer from , what he calls, “perpetual adolescence.” Among the topics he discusses is travel and the need for literature and technology. He explains our lack of work ethic and our inexcusable sense of entitlement – I would even suggest that the two are correlated.
Sasse combines a two-pronged argument that we (I say “we” because I am 20 years old) suffer from laziness and illiteracy. He proves his own point by repeatedly making sure he specifies the small “r” when writing the world republic, something that – I assume – Aristotle never had to do when he was writing his works. Perhaps the fact that I can only “assume” as such is part of the problem Sasse is describing – and I am a young individual who does enjoy reading and writing.
For those who really want some politics coming from Sasse, have no fear, I was able to find some from you.
As the author describes some of the parenting tactics utilized by Americans today, he discusses many of the differences between liberal and conservative education philosophies. Although Sasse doesn’t state those previously mentioned political ideologies outright, he clearly advocates for education reform that puts more responsibilities on the parents and less on the teachers and schools. He argues that students are best served by being a product of the community as opposed to a product of the bureaucratic school system. He concludes this chapter by outlining some education reform that can help him achieve his goal of teaching from home. Interestingly, Sasse’s kids are homeschooled, indicating that Sasse practices what he preaches.
With this mostly apolitical book, Senator Sasse proves himself to be what the American government official was supposed to be: someone who identifies a problem and then goes to Washington to try and fix it. He makes it clear with this book that he cares less about party than he does about fixing the issues he noticed while serving as President of Midland University. The greatest proof of Sasse’s ideological inclusiveness are the kind words that Democratic Senators Corey Booker and Tim Kaine used to describe the book.
It is clear to me that not only did Sasse feel that writing this book was important, but that he enjoyed writing the book. This was shown in part by the fact that there were three chapters written after the “last” one. That is comforting to note because it takes a certain amount of passion to address an issue of this magnitude – and it seems that Ben Sasse is the man to take it on.
I’d like to think that I enjoyed reading it as much as Sasse enjoyed writing it.
At the end of the book, Sasse writes a commencement address that he assumes Theodore Roosevelt might give to a graduating class.
In it, he discusses an American personality that is known to a historian like himself but no longer familiar to the American people. A personality where Americans are go-getters. In that same vein, the closing line told the students to go and “[C]ommence!” What he was trying to do here is ignite a fire of character and ambition that is lost in America today – despite the fact that it is that same character that was responsible for America’s founding in the first place.
Maybe it is true that President Roosevelt would have given a speech of that nature. But I would suggest that the speech written, filled with such passion and fervor, is the speech that Ben Sasse himself would give to a graduating class. With this book and that speech at the end of it, Senator Sasse has begun a path on his long journey to save America from The Vanishing American Adult.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.