It's Not Race. It's Not Gender. It's Generation.

Twenty-seven months ago I wrote this:

Each whiny right-wing volley in the “culture war” is a proxy for desegregation. At times it feels that Iraq War II is the gestation of the encrusted masturbations of goofy Mellon-Scaife funded Conservatron think tanks: an attempt to fight Vietnam over again, but this time with no draft to involve anyone at the U and no pesky Fullbrights or Churchs to ask difficult questions. Meanwhile, the only response from the left is an inchoate kinda’ collectivist wistfulness that does not even excite a fifth of the population and leaves its supporters wishing that Bobby Kennedy and MLK were still alive.

Due to the demographic anchor of the Baby Boomers the rest of us are stuck in this mediocre trip where pragmatism concerning present problems is numbed by the din of ancient wars refought anew.

Our society must fixate its energies on the problems of 2068, not 1968.

Now consider the “substance” of the SBVFTs odious bromides in 2004. By smearing and obfuscating Kerry’s war hero status they gave people mental permission to fixate only on his war protesting. Where Kerry once embodied both sides of the split over Vietnam they left him with one. A later SBVFT ad is most telling: it is simply audio and still pictures of Kerry recounting American atrocities in Vietnam to Congress played over creepy music. This was effective, in my opinion, because for many Americans it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Kerry’s testimony to “Hanoi Jane”.

The Conservatrons vitriol regarding Bill Clinton is spun from the same root. The “Clinton Wars” were all about the extent that a breath of marijuana once traveled down his throat, his uppity wife taking on policy tasks, his non-service in Vietnam, and over all McGovernism of yore.

In both cases the vehemence has nothing to do with substance or policy and everything to do with where one stood on a bevy of issues forty years ago. We recall the liberal, hippie, or progressive persons of this era because they produced most of the important cultural changes and created all of the good music. The results indicate that the political heft of the Boomers, however, tilts rightward. Republicans won seven of the ten elections between 1968 and 2004; and Carter’s meager victory in 1976 was more about Watergate than any fundamental change in America’s polity.

Swimming against this tide most Democrats have run “Chief of Staff” campaigns where they parrot policy proposals that polls show solid majorities favoring. Meanwhile, Republicans run “Presidential” campaigns that play on these antique divisions of a generation that has been staring at its own navel for so long that it’s head is coming out of its own asshole. (Bill Clinton ran a a hybrid of the two, but he still got an assist from Perot in ‘92)

When I read that Obama considers the Clinton/Gingrich melodrama of 1995 to be the reenactment of a dorm room war from 40 years ago, it seems that someone finally gets that it is this old pissing contest that is at the root of Progressives’ forty years in the wilderness. Obama is running a true Presidential campaign compared to Hillary’s standard Chief of Staff campaign, and as corny as the hope and unity talk may be and as much of a politician as Obama surely is, this is the precise opposite of and challenge to the divisive hate-oriented Presidential campaigns that Nixon created, Reagan sweetened, and Bush II brought to a nauseating nadir. Of course Obama is not perfect, but it does indeed take a rare person to pull this feat off (Kerry tried essentially the same thing and blew it) while being quick enough to counter the subtle race baiting and other win-a-newscycle strategies such as the Rove Playbook “red phone” ad that Team Clinton has done.

The Conservatrons will do worse, but I’m confident but that the Fact of Obama – a black man as President of the United States – directly challenges the racism-lite that has been a Conservatron mainstay since Nixon. The Fact of Obama has already started a series of annoying but necessary conversations about the divisions, between blacks, Jews, Latinos etc. etc. Please explain how disenfranchised groups exploring how they have been divided from one another is bad for Progressivism. Please explain how energizing and mobilizing the huge Boomer Echo generation and getting them hooked on voting Democrat is bad for Progressivism.

I don’t begrudge anyone their HRC support, but the condescending sanctimonious nonsense about cults of personality and Kool-Aid drinking regarding Obama voters indicates her supporters do not recognize opportunity when they see it. Clintonites, liberals, progressives and all Democrats should be absolutely positively overjoyed and thrilled at the prospect of an Obama candidacy and presidency. It is a once in a generation opportunity to reverse the focus of America’s fundamental underlying polity away from a past that has been disastrous for Progressives towards a present and future that can only be better.

Fuck the 60s. Fuck the 90s. I am ready and eager for the 2010s.

2 thoughts on “It's Not Race. It's Not Gender. It's Generation.”

  1. “I don’t begrudge anyone their HRC support, but the condescending sanctimonious nonsense about cults of personality and Kool-Aid drinking regarding Obama voters indicates her supporters do not recognize opportunity when they see it. Clintonites, liberals, progressives and all Democrats should be absolutely positively overjoyed and thrilled at the prospect of an Obama candidacy and presidency. It is a once in a generation opportunity to reverse the thrust of America’s fundamental underlying polity away from a past that has been disastrous for Progressives towards a present and future that can only be better.”No offense, dude, but you’re putting the Kool Aid in the same paragraph as your dismissal of the idea. Obama is a “once in a generation” thing? Are you serious, man? I guess we just disagree on this. I see Obama as just another politician, but one with great charisma. He is, if you will pardon the expression, a Great Communicator. And if he has the ability to move the ball towards progressive goals, OF COURSE we will all be thrilled.OF COURSE I would be absolutely stoked if what you said comes to pass will come to pass, and the environment changes to favor the left. But will that be Obama’s doing–or a natural gestalt shift reacting to the death of conservatism?I just haven’t been given any compelling reason to believe any of those things will come to pass. Fine, fuck the 60s and the 90s! But what makes Obama a progressive?I am deeply suspicious of a candidate who has made every indication that he is a business-as-usual “centrist” and yet gets away almost scrutiny-free from the same part of the party that was too liberal for Al Gore in 2000. (i.e., people like me, but not me–this time.)And let’s not confuse Hillary support with Obamaskepticism. Yes, they go hand in hand–but I more or less gave up on Hillary after Super Tuesday.Yes, her Rovian campaign ads are stupid. Yes, her attempts to win via Superdelegates was repugnant (as is disenfranchising voters in Florida). Yes, she voted for the AUMF. Yes, she was part of NAFTA.Being a Hillaryskeptic and admitting all of those things, likewise, doesn’t make you an automatic Obamaphile. Strangely, I think approximately half or so of Obama’s most strident supporters were for Edwards pre-Iowa. And are you seriously denying that there is a growing cult of personality surrounding Obama–or are you just saying that that’s a good thing.I cannot seriously credit the former, and I do not deny the latter. But, that doesn’t mean that I am not completely skeeved by it. It’s almost as if there was a wild youth movement over someone promising to be Eisenhower, but somehow dog whistling a Ralph Nader movement. Where’s the stability there? How is that not a cult of personality? Where does it go without him, or when he doesn’t deliver on what his people think he will deliver?To me, Paul Krugman’s vision of progressive change is simply more compelling. Quit trying to associate government with its figurehead. Get people to associate it with something they like, like Medicare. If you get people to think that way again, then the government will be free to be a vehicle for helping people.And the once in a generation opportunity for me is universal health care.That should be the test. If Obama can’t deliver that, he’s a fraud.

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  2. Time to restate my thesis:Most of America supports “progressive” policies. Consvatrons win elections by running Presidential campaigns based not in ideology but on exploiting the divisions of the 60s and the divisions between people; basically: fear and racism. Democrats counter this by running Chief of Staff campaigns, that are just a list of policy proposals. Obama is running a presidential campaign based largely on unity, which Kerry tried and failed to do in ’04. That he is a black man automatically calls out many of the divisions that the Conservatrons play on subtley.Obama is running well to the left of Kerry. He may not embody perfect progressive change — although extricating ourselves from Iraq and using the machinery of government to favor alternative energy is a good start — but by running a campaing designed at taking apart the hateful base of the Conservatrons he is making the terrain far more favorable for the left in general. Another Chief of Staff campaign won’t do it. The Conservatron ascent, for most people, was emotional not political or practical.These changes are not easy and I am willing to say that Obama is an extraordinary leader. I believe this speaks for itself. The Democratic field was very deep and no one else broke through.This is a cold headed analysis; the indication that anyone who supports the man is part of a cult is silly and insulting.

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