The End of the 1960's?

Over at, Paul Waldman has an excellent article about the generational history of the "culture wars," which originally started, and are still deeply rooted, within the Baby Boomer generational conflict that began in the 1960's. I think his article also offers some useful insight in the appeal Barack Obama has in many quarters, including the netroots:
The current incarnation of the culture war didn't just begin in the sixties--it is, to this day, about the '60s. That decade divided the country in two: you were either cool or square, with it or a stuffed shirt. Which side of that divide you placed yourself--whether you grew your hair long or cut it short, supported Vietnam or opposed it, thought free love would lead to the decline of civilization or thanked your lucky stars it came along while you were still young--continues to determine how people who were around at the time look at not only the '60s, but today's politics as well.

Consider this piece of public opinion data, courtesy of the National Election Studies carried out every two years since 1952 by the University of Michigan. One of the NES questions asks respondents how liberal or conservative they think the candidates running for president are. The ratings given to Bill Clinton by people calling themselves conservatives would have made him the most liberal presidential candidate of the last half-century--more liberal than Hubert Humphrey, or Walter Mondale, or Michael Dukakis or even George McGovern. Now if you think Bill Clinton is more liberal than George McGovern, you're living in a strange fantasy world. But the conservatives of 1992 and 1996 rated him as more liberal than the conservatives of 1972 rated McGovern.

Why? Consider that avid culture warrior Newt Gingrich once called Bill and Hillary Clinton `counter-culture McGoverniks,' as though they spent the Summer of Love driving to Haight-Ashbury in their VW Microbus, dropping acid all along the way. Anyone who has seen photos of Hillary from that time knows that she was more than a few steps from `counter-culture.' As for Bill, he didn't even know how to inhale. In fairness, the two did work for George McGovern in 1972--but Bill, the recent law school grad, was in charge of McGovern's Texas campaign, a staff position that probably necessitated the wearing of a tie.

The facts of their not-so-misspent youth are beside the point. The Clintons came to embody everything that conservatives hate about the '60s. For better or worse (and there's a case to be made for each), a general election in which Hillary is matched up against a Republican will almost inevitably see one more smackdown between the hippies and the squares. (And if you think which Republican it is matters at all, consider the drubbing war hero John Kerry took from draft-dodgers Bush and Cheney over Vietnam.) Waldman goes on to note that for the first time in history, Americans of voting age born post-Boom now outnumber Americans born during or before the Baby Boom. Of course, post-Boomers only made up 36-40% of the electorate in 2006, largely because of the different tendencies of Americans of different ages to actually vote. While there is a potential for a post-boomer, post-culture wars age to begin, it probably will not actually take place until at least 2012.

Now let me explain what I think this has to do with Obama. The "culture wars" are simply another front in long-standing struggle over identity that has dominated American politics for some time. Identity remains by far a greater determining factor of how people will vote than other demographic indicators. Along with the struggles of Latino and Asian immigrants, and although to this point it is little understood, one of the great post-1960's fronts in the culture wars has become the values and posited identities of the "creative class" versus other classes. I believe that it is this division that largely explains the generally wealthy, Generation X heavy, white and highly-educated demographics of the netroots, for example. It also explains the gulf online when it comes to old political arguments about competing in the south, moving to the left, right or center, and why we seem more willing to build new institutions than work with existing ones. Those were all the big fights in the Democratic Party back in the 1960's and 1970's, with the move toward ideological coalitions, the development of single-issue advocacy infrastructure, and with the success of the Republican "Southern Strategy." Those are the political battles of the past, from the days before the "Creative Class" began to take over. We don't see those old arguments as central, and we want to get past them.

I think Obama, simply in terms of his demeanor and his biography, strongly appeals to politicos from a new generation and a new socioeconomic class because he strikes them in some sort of gut, intuitive level as being from that class. Multi-ethnic, post-Vietnam, highly educated, raised in a major urban center--these are many of the cosmopolitan, self-creating, forward looking aspects of life for many younger professionals. As much as we may or may not like Bill Clinton, coming from a little town in Arkansas is not a story many Americans can relate to anymore, because we just didn't grow up that way. Even John Edwards's story of growing up in a mill town when the mill closed seems very, very rustic for a northeasterner such as myself, since our mills closed down sixty years ago to move to places like North Carolina. These rustic visions of America simply are not where people are at these days, especially news junkies and activists within the Democratic Party and the bluer parts of America. Those people instead look to places like Harlem, where Bill Clinton now keeps his offices. People moving into the gentrifying areas of Harlem probably like Barack Obama quite a bit, and probably feel some sort of gut-level, identity-based connection with him that they can't even quite put their finger on at this point.

I can't quite put my finger on it either, but the rise of Obama, I believe, is largely based on a new vision of personal identity that will inevitably come to impact our national political discourse. Whether or not his speeches and policy ideas continue to live up to that identity remains to be seen, but it does give him an edge on the rest of older, predominately Baby Boomer field that, generally speaking, will not trumpet their urban or multi-ethnic roots. If he can continue to tap into this new identity and socio-economic wave, his campaign will be difficult to defeat, especially if it is combined with strong African-American support. A coalition of African-Americans and the professional, creative class (both within the netroots and the party establishment), would be a devastating coalition in a Democratic primary that I am not sure anyone could defeat.

I am not endorsing Obama with this post--I actually voted for Edwards in the most recent Dailykos straw poll--but I have to admit a powerful, internal hunger to see the ground shift within the "culture wars" away from the long-standing paradigm of the 1960's. As someone born in 1974, as is probably the case with everyone in Generation X and forward, I just can't identify with all of that. As we have seen from 1992-2006, every single Baby Boomer based election will probably continue to be about Vietnam, the "counter-culture," the south as a distinct region, single-issue advocacy, "electability," and old, linear and single-issue based discussions of ideology. Enough already! If I have to suffer through one more campaign about "draft-dodging" my brain is going to implode. I also like how the latest version of race-baiting in elections backfired so horribly for Republicans in 2006, that we may not see quite as much of it in the future. Good, because I like the idea of a future where we are de-moored from fixed identities, and pluralism reigns supreme. Obama undeniably represents that future, at least in biography if not yet in policy and, more debateably, in speech. As someone who is only a Senator for two years, he also represents the new values of the Creative Class in that gaining institutional "experience," and slowly working your way up the ladder just isn't how many people's careers function anymore. Who cares if he didn't toil away as a Senate underling for another decade? That doesn't mean he can't do the job as well--if not better--than people who actually completed the "requisite" apprenticeships. I actually like the idea of changing jobs and even careers every once and a while as a healthy means of preventing mental complacency and institutional dependency from sinking in. Hell, I jumped ship on English academia in favor of politics for good just three years ago, and I actually think I would be worse off in politics than I am now had I started right out of college.

Expect lines of thought such as this to begin to have a real impact on American political discourse in the coming years and decades. There will be a paradigm shift in identity, and it will cause real generational conflict. I have no crosstabs to either prove or disprove this, but I would bet all of the money in my pocket right now that the biggest obstacle for Obama to overcome in winning the nomination will be older voters, especially those over 60, among whom I am quite confident he will not strike a major cord. I would love to see some crosstabs on national primary polls by age, because I bet they would support this position.

This is a very crude outline of what I believe is a coming generational conflict. If it starts to become apparent nationwide in the 2008, 2012 or 2016 elections, it will finally mean the end of he 1960's-style culture wars, and therefore also the end of the Great Backlash Narrative against so-called "liberal elites." When it does arrive, it will mean that national politics will finally start to discuss culture in ways that people in my generation and younger generations can relate to, and thus you can also expect voter participation among the currently younger generations to increase significantly. Count on it.

Tags: Culture, Demographics, Ideology (all tags)



Re: The End of the 1960's?

As for Bill, he didn't even know how to inhale.

Now don't tell me you actually bought that line..
AkakAkAk ;-)

by Predictor 2006-12-14 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

My wife is the one person in the world who really believed Clinton on this, as she had the exact same experience.  She tried, but she could never get the smoke into her lungs and basically "never inhaled" the stuff.  She later learned she has borderline asthma.

by Mark Matson 2006-12-14 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?
You've just presented the only believable explanation for actually buying this concept (inhaling), however, Bill used to smoke Cigarettes and Cigars, so I ain't buying that with him.
The "But I didn't inhale" was being used long before Clinton came out with that. Asthma is a very valid issue regarding smoke inhalation, sorry to hear that, hope she suffers not. Our fossil fuel reliant economy has reached critical mass regarding the issue of air pollution and its impacts on those with Asthma. I personally detest the use of Diesel fossil fuels.
by Predictor 2006-12-14 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Not that I buy the Didn't inhale argument, but I would say MANY MANY peopel who smoke Cigars don't inhale... The smoke is so freakin strong...

No Cigarettes is another Story.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 06:37AM | 0 recs
Unquestionably true

Clinton has alcoholism and drug addiction in his immediate family, and it terrifies him.

The social pressure to "just try it" was obscene, and it would be very natural for him to try to please his friends, satisfy his curiosity, but stay the hell away from getting high.

by stevehigh 2006-12-14 04:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Unquestionably true

but stay the hell away from getting high.

Your screen name is, therefore, Ironic ;-)

by Predictor 2006-12-14 08:20PM | 0 recs
I think you are fooling yourself into a

New England/metropolitian mindset.

The question you portray seems more about old vs new.  Or even Metropolitan vs country.

Where I think the fooling yourself is to underestimate the good old Apple pie generation has not yet died off. I understand your thought process, but I think what you may be describing is or will be more of a reality when those of us that are in our 50's are gone.  I think what you may portray will be another 25-40 years down the road not now in 2008.

The Old Fashion Heart of America still is alive and well, even if you don't feel it where you are.
That is a large part of the appeal of John Edwards and why I say he is still underestimated...

by dk2 2006-12-14 03:08PM | 0 recs
25-40 years more?

   I'm not sure if I can handle that much old-fashioned apple pie.  The baby boomers, having just reached retirement, have hit a peak in electoral influence.  Obama does seem to foretell the coming pluralism.  He's a highly educated black men who went to a private school in Kansas.  I can see why older generations would have trouble relating to him.  If Obama wins the nomination, he will be popular with young people.  That is a guarantee.

by cilerder86 2006-12-14 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: 25-40 years more?

Obama was born in Hawai'i, lived through grade school in Indonesia, then moved back to Hawai'i, where he lived with his grandparents and attended an elite prep school.  Later he moved on for college, law school, etc before landing in Chicago.

His mother was from Kansas, but I don't think Barack ever lived there.

by JJCPA 2006-12-14 05:52PM | 0 recs
You're right.

  It seems.

by cilerder86 2006-12-14 07:11PM | 0 recs
I am one of the 50's group and I don't plan to

quit voting even when I retire, so why do you dismiss the older vote.  The AARP sure has a big enough membership to make it one of the biggest lobbyist So you think we are all dead in the grave or to old in a nursing home to vote. I don't think so.

I don't like Obama because he can not (at least that I have seen yet, nor have I heard from any speech with proof of actions) that he can stand for an issue without changing and catering to the GOP, call it the new politically correct term "bi-partisanship" if you like, but to pass laws and cater to the middle just to say you did something isn't my cup of tea!

It may be to much apple pie for some of the new set - but you really don't have much over some of us that were the original let it all hang out crowd. So I would try another angle, race, color, going to Ivy league or not doesn't change what the man is about. He still wants bi-partisanship and to me that is exactly what has gotten America in the sinking ship it is now in with BUSH, and I don't want anymore of the new way, Clinton was also to be part of the new way, and I think he did alot. But I want someone who is for the American worker, the hard working American, you know the ones that helped build this country so you young'ens can say how great it is to live in.

I also want you to know that, you young "educated types" are not the only ones on the internet, and do not make up the entire netroots. There are many of us older generation types that are getting into blogs and netroots quite nicely, and you know what else, we like it, we love it, and we aren't going away. We are not the generation to take the sit down and shut up, you are no longer needed attitude from some of the whippersnappers that think they are the only bloggers on the planet.

by dk2 2006-12-14 06:08PM | 0 recs

    I'm not an Obama supporter.  I support Edwards. No, I'm sorry, we young "educated types" won't get off your lawn.  I know I have such an attitude.  Could you possibly have reinforced any more stereotypes about old people with your comment?  We whippersnappers are going to steal your thunder!  I declare war!

by cilerder86 2006-12-14 07:10PM | 0 recs
Don't take it personally

My commments go to the orginal and all the other post that try to impose the idea of being outdated, I was not addressing just one post.

It seems to be rampant across the blogosphere and esp. with the rush to align Obama with the planets and stars.

War already had been declared, and excepted!

by dk2 2006-12-15 01:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't take it personally

You both need to act like adults and not like 6 year olds... War is declared... my god... Rolling my eyes

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: I am one of the 50's group and I

I wouldn't say that there will be any quit voting with the boomers.. I would say that their influence waines with...attrition.  As you guys get older, the less of you there are...  

Think of what your Grandparents generation AS A WHOLE might have felt about interracial marriage... but as they aged and many passed on, the public perception began to shift to the next generation, which had a more enlightened view, and then to your generation where it doesn't really bother many boomers, to Gen X and Y where it is an accepted thing by all but the most racist.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: I am one of the 50's group and I

That's ok... we'll put you in the crooked home we saw on 60 minutes... ;-)

(Simpson's line sorry couldn't resist)

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 07:45AM | 0 recs
He's Sidney Frikken Portier, What's So New?

He's a highly educated black men who went to a private school in Kansas.  I can see why older generations would have trouble relating to him.
As already pointed out, you've confabulated a bit.  But you've got the vibe right.  And there's nothing particularly new and ungraspable about who he is.  Quite the contrary. Obama reminds us Boomers of the only kind of black who had a ghost of a chance with our parents:  Sidney Portier, or Nat King Cole.  (Cole had a national TV show that died because he couldn't get sponsors.)

If there is a generational resistence to Obama (I've not seen evidence yet), the GOP side of it will certainly have a racial undertone to it.  But at least some of the progressive resistence will not be based on resisting something new.  It will be based on resisting something old.

Now, old is not necessarily bad. (It has pluses as well as minuses.) But let's just be clear about what we're getting ourselves into, shall we.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-15 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: I think you are fooling yourself into a

yeah, i was thinking about that when i read this too.  i'd like to agree with chris, but i'd have to admit that my perception is deeply affected by my daily anecdotal experience (i live in cambridge, ma), which is heavily infused with the kinds of values being described here (fluidity of identity and of career).

i don't doubt that young folks who are making their careers in places like philly, boston, new york, san francisco, etc., are indeed spot-on matches for this value system.

what i doubt is that young folks who are making their careers elsewhere, carry this same value system.  if you are a 20-something making your way up the Caterpillar corporate ladder in Peoria, IL, are you going to have the same values as a 20-something software programmer in Silicon Valley?  I doubt it.

then again, i suppose the point of this post is that the coming culture wars (whenever they get here) are not going to be about whether you dodged the draft in vietnam, but whether you sought a career in the blue cities or in other red areas, and whether you attached yourself to an "urban tribe" or to a conservative megachurch.  in that sense, i suppose this post is basically right, give or take 10 years.

by Shai Sachs 2006-12-14 06:12PM | 0 recs
Re: I think you are fooling yourself into a

Wasn't the same argument made against Kennedy?

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 07:38AM | 0 recs
NO - it wasn't the same with Kennedy

Kennedy swept the country

it didn't matter he was a catholic, because of his message and the dynamics of him, and all that he had been, and the direction that he wanted to go.

by dk2 2006-12-15 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

by dk2 2006-12-14 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

I'm inclined to agree.  Obama seems to me the embodiment of Ruy Tuxeria's "emerging Democratic majority."  Which has a lot of appeal to me, as a second generation immigrant grad student born in '84.

by Ramo 2006-12-14 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

I think, no matter the candidate, they'd be wise to avoid any discussion of the 60s. The searing effect of the Vietnam War is being overshadowed in the national psyche by the Iraq invasion. I'm beginning to believe that the Iraq invasion will have the largest effect on American society of any war since WWII. If the GOP nominee is McCain, they'll try to make his POW status a major point of emphasis, but I just don't think it'll play. It is so obviously a new age, with acute problems that have nothing to do with the Vietnam era.

Yes, I think those of us too young to remember Vietnam sometimes miss how pervasive the impact is on the political conversation. It's obvious that that's a major point of departure between the pundits and the blogosphere on thinking about being against a war. And, yes, it's very difficult for people to get past the formative moments of their youth. But ... I think the Vietnam era is about to go underground. It'll still have an effect, but it'll be in the subtext of the discussion, not as a front-line topic.

Wars change societies, warp them in ways that make what came before nearly unrecognizable as the same country. This "War on Terror" that has morphed into the Iraq invasion has made the Vietnam era about as relevant as Ozzie and Harriet. And I don't think that's just my age talking.

by BriVT 2006-12-14 03:20PM | 0 recs
End of the culture war.
     Let it be so!  I'm from Generation Y and I find these conflicts as alien and tiresome as you do.  In my generation most of these controversial social issues have already been resolved.  It seems odd (and disappointing) to me that my generation is so quiet on the Iraq War.  I don't know what to make of this.  I only guess that we're too isolated from the reality of the conflict.
    I'm an Edwards supporter for now, even though I seem to fit your prototype of the Obama voter.
by cilerder86 2006-12-14 03:23PM | 0 recs
ditto. Edwards/Obama, 2008

I'm a GenY Edwards fan as well, and I welcome the end of the culture wars. Chris, the stuff you're saying here makes me like Obama a lot more for 2016, but like Edwards more for 2008.

You say we're not quite past the culture wars, and I think you're right. Obama may be a good post-culture-wars candidate, but I think Edwards can win the culture wars and put them to bed. And as you talk about a shift in the public discourse post-culture-wars, I think you're highlighting the necessity for a specifically pre-post-culture-wars shift -- and that's a change I think Edwards is uniquely qualified to bring about.

His focus on class may be a bit narrower of a shift than the one Obama proposes, but it's really tangible, and it could potentially be just as drastic. People are talking about how Obama offers all these intangibles, but nothing tangible, and I think that to a limited extent that's right. I'd love to see Obama succeed Edwards as president, planting this broader shift in American politics on top of eight years of really focused class-based political attention.

I think Obama offers a great Democratic vision, and Edwards offers a rgeat progressive vision. I'd love to see the Democratic vision subsume the progressive vision, but without strong Edwards-like influences, Obama-like reaching-for-the-stars could turn out to be rather empty.

I'm not articulating this very well, but Chris brought up some really complex and thoughtful points, and it's difficult to build on such a set of ideas. I guess I'll refer to a bit of text:

[Edwards's] rustic vision of America simply is not where people are at these days, especially news junkies and activists within the Democratic Party and the bluer parts of America.

What I like about Edwards is that he does come from this rustic place, but he is very much a part of the new class of professionals. He has the potential to tie the old vision of America into his own new vision. As much as this rustic vision doesn't represent the next generation, it does represent a great deal of the country today.

A coalition of African-Americans and the professional, creative class (both within the netroots and the party establishment), would be a devastating coalition in a Democratic primary that I am not sure anyone could defeat.

True enough. But remember that Edwards has been working hard to garner African American support in non-overtly-racial ways, such as talking about New Orleans and Darfur when most of the presidential hopefuls were willing only to talk about the big issues, not make issues into big ones. In addition, Edwards has an edge in labour in a way I don't think anyone can touch. Edwards has an entrepreneurial expertise that I think does resonate well with the creative class, and combined with labor and a black support, especially with Obama as a running mate, the two could be an unbelievable presidential ticket in two years.

by msnook 2006-12-14 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Older voters: I have nothing but anecdotal evidence, but there may be a lot of support for Obama from the voters older than the baby boomers, too.

He really, truly impresses my 82 year old lifelong Republican mother. He impresses because of the way he speaks. He is, in a word, eloquent. Truly eloquent.

"Charismatic" cheapens the eloquence and authenticity people see and desire.

These pre-boomers were adults for JFK, Eisenhower, Truman, FDR. They lived through WWII, the Cuban Missile crisis, Brown v. Board.

They see something in Obama that resonates.

Yes, I'm gushing. I've spent weeks trying to get over it and sober up. So I read his books, old speeches and newspaper articles, digging and digging for stuff that would bring me back to earth. But I haven't found help yet.

Perhaps those between ages 45 and 65 (not sure the exact range) are the culture warriors.

I may be full of it, but it sure would be an interesting hypothesis to test with focus groups and/or polls.

Thanks for the prod, Chris.

by demondeac 2006-12-14 03:40PM | 0 recs
Tact and Grace.

   Those are two qualities that Obama possesses in abundance.  Perhaps the older generations admire these qualities?

by cilerder86 2006-12-14 03:48PM | 0 recs
Edwards has them just as much as Obama.

He also is part of the over 50 year old group.

by dk2 2006-12-14 06:13PM | 0 recs

   I support Edwards.  Just because I say something nice about a candidate doesn't mean all the other candidates are deficient in said quality.  I really didn't want this to turn into another primary candidate fight.  It's boring already.

by cilerder86 2006-12-14 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?
I agree with you.  My son who has not been impressed by any politican is a total Obama fan.  Thinks he is what it was like to be for RFK.
I'm in Illinois and he lit a fire here in 04 that never went out.
The man is truly gifted and many are underestimating him.  I just smile and think "wait.  you ain't seen nothing yet"
by vwcat 2006-12-14 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Thats sort of how I feel.  Of all the candidates Obama seems to be the only one who has the potential to really stand out.

And by stand out I mean I don't think that the 2008 primary will be much of a nailbiter.

by sterra 2006-12-14 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Absolutely, positively right on.

I can also totally see Hillary Clinton locking up older voters, even in places like Iowa.  If their real choices are Obama, Edwards, and Clinton, I'd expect them to split between Edwards and Clinton, with the ones who are too anxious about gender heading to Edwards, and the ones who are too anxious about youthfulness and inexperience heading to Clinton.

Interestingly, neither of Obama's real constituencies (the Creative Class and, we assume, the black community) are strongly present in Iowa.  Or Nevada. New Hampshire a little bit and South Carolina yes.  On the other hand, I think Obama's charisma actually carries him well past those two groups and into the core of liberal, medium-to-low-information primary voters.  The 40-to-60 vote seems completely up for grabs; it's only under 40 and over 60 that the age trends start to dominate.  

I am so talking out of my ass.  

I'm also surprised though; I agreed with this sentence of your post more than any other

 A coalition of African-Americans and the professional, creative class (both within the netroots and the party establishment), would be a devastating coalition in a Democratic primary that I am not sure anyone could defeat.

but when you start looking at actual primary states, it's not that simple.  Obama would actually have to win the pre-primary on the strength of that coalition, particularly among the Democratic Party insider crowd, because that coalition ain't worth shit when you actually get to Iowa.  In fact, Howard Dean kindof tried it, and though he also lost the insider primary badly, he won almost nothing in Iowa.


Again, Obama will have to really leverage that media and real-life charisma with the core of the electorate, and probably squash Edwards off the airwaves, to stay strong enough to win a place like Iowa.  (Or just not contest the state.)

by texas dem 2006-12-14 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Just remember though... in the Illinois Senate Primary, Obama won with over 50%.  His support cut across A LOT of demographics, including the lilly white burbs of Chicago.. He even got the Trib endorsement which was shocking, especially since he was up against some big names in the primary (although one of the biggest did go down in flames due to divorce records.)

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Chris, you've got to check out Margaret Mead's Culture and Commitment: A Study of the Generation can get it for 1 cent on amazon. -Study-Generation-Gap/dp/0370013328/sr=8 -2/qid=1166148193/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/104-39 84432-5037550?ie=UTF8&s=books

It's an incredible book that discusses the beginings of this "culture war".

by Ian Campbell 2006-12-14 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Mead, with Gregory Bateson-- way ahead of their times.

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-14 04:21PM | 0 recs
Would You Do A Post About Bateson Sometime?

You post so rarely, Jerome.  It would be nice to hear you hold forth on him.

(My blog, Patterns That Connect, takes its name from a Bateson quote.)

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-15 06:33AM | 0 recs
I'm tired of Optics

I don't care whether or not it would be fun to have a beer with Obama.  Can't we get past that? Let's hear some fucking ideas from this guy! Let's see some passion for some issue other then sucking up to evangelicals!

This country has been really damaged internationally, I'm not going to vote for someone because I share an "ethnic profile" with a guy.

by delmoi 2006-12-14 04:10PM | 0 recs
Do some research

Read speeches or watch them on YouTube. Buy the books. His most recent speech to evangelicals was a passionate argument for victims of AIDS. He confronted their refusal to support condoms and other science.

He is not someone I would want to have a beer with.

He is someone I would love to talk about issues, politics, and people with. He is an intellectual who is gifted at speaking to a wide swath of the electorate.

Besides, in what world is "he's too popular" an argument against a political candidate?

by demondeac 2006-12-14 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

All that "analysis" kind of falls apart when you realize all the pot smoking, long haired "radical" college kids of the 60's and 70's were the ones who elected Reagan and Bush Sr and Bush Jr.

Pogo's we have met the enemy and he is us applies and you can take all the culture wars stuff and dump in the crapper.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-14 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

I think you missed the point.

It's the "Dan Quayle" boomers who elected Reagan, and the Bushes, not the ex-hippies.

by wayward 2006-12-15 02:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?
the 60s generation cannot step off the stage soon enough for me.  They cannot govern or do anything except keep fight the same old battles only nastier.  Enough.
What the Baby Boomers have brought is destruction and hate.  Look at the state of the world and our politics.  
Reading history, it was not as bad as now since pre civil war.  Maybe we are having one by the boomers and don't know it.
any of these guys gets in office, accept Obama, and it will be another 4 to 8 years of the same garbage we have had to endure for the past 15 years.  I'm tired of it.  Issues cannot be discussed because of the culture crap.
And that is the problem with Iraq.  The war is messed up and being fought due to some psychological scars of the vietnam war.  The right wants so bad for this to be thier WWII, greatest generation to erase vietnam and the left wants us to never start this to begin with and relive vietnam.  Either way, 20 year old kids and iraqis are dying for thier selfish needs.  as always.
by vwcat 2006-12-14 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Really great piece.  I hope you are right that we are nearing the end of the 60s culture wars.  As someone born at the beginning of Gen X, I am sick of re-fighting the battles of a decade during which I was an infant and to which I don't relate at all.  

I think your comments on Obama are very prescient.  If my household is any indication, his background is the future in a whole host of ways.  Not only are we part of the urban creative class, as you put it, my wife has a similar background to Obama being first generation American who is half Korean and half Ecuadorian.  

I am heartened that many of the old prejudices are dying away.  20 years ago everyone would be discussing the fact that Obama is half African-American and can he win.  Today, everyone is talking about his charisma and ability to connect with people.  We still have a lot of prejudice but it is clear we are starting to make some progress which makes me very happy.

I should note I have not chosen a Presidential candidate so I am not endorsing Obama.  I am just pleased he can actually discuss issues without his race constantly coming up.

by John Mills 2006-12-14 04:32PM | 0 recs

I am so sick of hearing about this as well... but then I wonder, how long will we be fighting over who did what in Iraq? Will that ever seem like something we just need to "move on" from and deal with other issues?

The issues we'll fight Iraq over are different, not "did you go" or "didn't you go" or "did you spit on soldiers" but did you believe the lies, did you fight for the truth, did you fight for the Constitution, were you willing to look at reality. So it's not only a different fight but a different kind of fight when it comes to Iraq and one I think that is more universal that the Vietnam tropes.

Of course, with the way our political machine trivializes and sound-bites everything maybe it will reduce the Iraq War to tropes as well.

by MNPundit 2006-12-14 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Vietnam

As someone who is either Gen-X or Gen-Y (b. 1980), I agree completely.

It doesn't make any sense why the most important issue in the 2004 election was the Vietnam War. It's over. We lost Vietnam, but we still won the Cold War. Can't we move on?

by wayward 2006-12-15 02:08AM | 0 recs
great post Chris

This Gen-Xer thinks you have really gotten something here.  I feel the same way.

by John DE 2006-12-14 05:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?
"The End of the 1960's--scarcely. Obama represents everything that much of the 60's was aiming for: an emphasis on real morality  versus the faux moraity of bourgeois America of the 60's or the 21st century as a basis of foreign and domestic policy; personal commitment, personal fullfilment versus just corporate rise,  the latter leading to higher education, of seeing life in some ways as non stop graduate school all leading from Freakdom to the Creative Class. Obama is a perfect fit for my generation and will be clearly seen by them as a fullfilment of the 60's. Will we see him as one of us. Oh, yeah.
As for "In my generation most of these controversial social issues have already been resolved."  Ah, if it were only so...
When my wife and I were out as part of the DFA net-based GOTV  knocking doors election day trying to get people out, who were are large percentage of those who we were trying to dislodge from their TV's and gameboys? --yeah those in their 20's and 30's.
I just turned 64.  I trust a quarter of a century from now I will still be dragging people out of their holes to vote. I hope you will too.
by Dudley 2006-12-14 06:07PM | 0 recs

Do you really need to dislodge people from portable gaming systems? Can't they take them to the polls and play them in line?

In fact the portable devices that are the most popular are the Nintendo DS Lite and the Sony Playstation Portable, neither of which has gameboy in the title. But it was so dominant that I guess it's become a generic term.

by MNPundit 2006-12-14 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Gameboys

Yeah... It isn't video games and gameboys that make people in their 20's apathetic in voting... Its many not realizing what happens when bad politicians get elected.  I have a friend in 2000 who didn't care if Gore or Bush won... In 2004, he finally understood why I was harping on him to vote.  Many of my politically apathetic peers also complain that politicians don't care about their interests.  THey don't seem to understand that if our age group votes in big numbers instead of a small percentage of the electorate, then all of a sudden our concerns will be listened to by those trying to get elected...  which is why seniors still have a powerful hand in politics.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Wishful Thinking

Yep, as someone who was born four years before Obama- in other words at the peak of the baby boomer generation as defined by most everyone except this sad Paul Waldman- I find the very premise of this opinion piece absurd.

It's like clapping louder than ever for Bush's policies- wishing for the biggest generation in our nation's history to go away anytime soon just ain't gonna happen.  That Obama may appeal to Gens X and Y is beside the point.  He is of the tail end of the BB's.

by Working Class in Oregon 2006-12-14 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?
Actually, Gen Y is larger than the Boomers. And it is growing larger every day, since most new immigratns are Gen Y.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-14 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Obama may or may not be Gen-X, depending on who you ask.

I have heard Gen-X defined as 1961-81. I have also heard it defined as 1965-76. I have also heard it defined as plenty of different ranges between 1961-81.

Even if Obama is technically a boomer, there is a difference between the early boomers, 1945-53, who were old enough to be drafted for Vietnam and the later boomers 1954-64(?) who were not.

by wayward 2006-12-15 02:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Boomers started in 1946, rather than in 1945; class size in schools doubled and tripled.

by joyful alternative 2006-12-15 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Once again, that depends on who you ask.

by wayward 2006-12-15 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

I like this column, and it makes a lot of sense to me. Having not lived through the 60's either, I'm tired of it being fought about in elections.

by rikyrah 2006-12-14 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

This diary makes me sad in its search for identity.  It's an existential search that will never be satisfied so long as the search is outward and for emblematic symbols of belongingness.  It is sad too in its search for a person to be an emblematic symbol.

by Rolfyboy 2006-12-14 09:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?
I'll begin meditation immediately to remedy the situation.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-14 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Do that.  Maybe you'll get an identity that isn't conditional on outside persons or things.

by Rolfyboy 2006-12-15 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

I think Obama, simply in terms of his demeanor and his biography, strongly appeals to politicos from a new generation and a new socioeconomic class because he strikes them in some sort of gut, intuitive level as being from that class. Multi-ethnic, post-Vietnam, highly educated, raised in a major urban center--these are many of the cosmopolitan, self-creating, forward looking aspects of life for many younger professionals.

Thanks Chris for putting words to what I feel.  I don't quite know if I like it or not, but I have to admit the feeling is there.

by KansasNate 2006-12-14 09:44PM | 0 recs
Go Rent 'Look Who's Coming To Dinner'

It's nothing new at all.  You're just too young to remember how old it really is.

Once again, the triumph of American amnesia.  It's more American than apple pie.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-15 07:02AM | 0 recs
the problem, chris

is that i expect that the majority of our fellow gen x'ers and millenials aren't urban professional creative classers, but rather working in the service industry, trying to make ends meet. they just don't tend to get the spotlight.

agreed on the main points, though. i am so tired of the old arguments about the 60s, when we've got more than enough fresh new hells to grapple with in the present. not sure if obama is really interested in doing that, or whether he's trying to live up to the same old marketing style of politics (now NEW and IMPROVED! FRESH! buy OBAMA!). wish he'd use his star power to lead on something meaningful.

by wu ming 2006-12-14 10:27PM | 0 recs
Same As It Ever Was

the majority of our fellow gen x'ers and millenials aren't urban professional creative classers, but rather working in the service industry, trying to make ends meet. they just don't tend to get the spotlight.
Just as the majority of Boomers weren't part of the counter-culture, etc.

What sells papers is the exception, not the rule.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-15 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

This article echos, in a small way, the themes of Generations:  The History of America's Future From 1584 to 2069, by Bill Strauss and Neil Howe, Quill Press, New York, October 1990.

It is worth noting that Senator Obama is the first Gen X person to be viewed as a Presidential candidate.  It is the contrast between him and the Baby Boomer candidiates (most all the others except for Senator McCain) that makes him stand out.

The Baby Boomers will exit the political stage sooner or later.  Senator Obama's appearance on that stage is tangible evidence that the era of the Baby Boomers is drawing to a close.

by Airpower 2006-12-14 10:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Do not underestimate McCain's appeal to Gen-Xers. In 2000, McCain was wildly popular at colleges, then attended by the tail end of Gen-X. Gen-X likes mavericks, and whatever the reality is, the perception of McCain as a maverick is still very strong.

It would be especially interesting if McCain chose a non-boomer as his running mate. SC Gov. Mark Sanford (b. 1960) is a possible choice for McCain's #2. Although Sanford is a bit old to be a bonafide Gen-Xer, he fits the mold of an X-er politician perfectly.

1. Sanford is a maverick. In Congress, he was famous for being on the short end of 433-2 votes along with Ron Paul. His own party leadership hates him almost as much as the Democrats do. Yet he was re-elected with 56% of the vote.

2. Sanford has no interest in the culture war. He takes the positions he has to as Governor of SC, but he doesn't spend much time talking about them. I don't ever remember him pandering to the religious right, a rarity for an SC Republican.

3. Sanford is willing to claim issues that are traditionally not associated with the Republican Party. He had a good enough environmental record to be endorsed by the League of Conservation votes, and he made the most of that endorsement in his campaign.

4. Sanford is very supportive of new ideas. Unfortunately, most of them are very bad ideas. However, now South Carolinians can get their drinks from full sized liquor bottles, so I guess that's a plus.

5. Sanford is not a party man. Sanford has never been one to work with the party structure in his campaigns or to show deference to party leaders. Considering the public's dislike of BOTH political parties, this is probably a big plus. Also see #1.

6. Sanford has always had a good command of the media. He was always sure to get his side of the issues in the local paper and on the website in the same news cycle as any attacks. Even when one of his biggest media supporters in 2002, and the largest newspaper in SC, The State [Columbia, SC], visciously turned on him in 2006, he was able to overcome this. Of course, an $8 million war chest helps, but he still was able to use it very effectively. Sanford has recieved some terrible media reviews, including the dubious honor of being one of "America's Worst Governors" from Time Magazine, but he a good media response team and was able to overcome it.

I say these things not as a Sanford supporter, but as one who worked hard to defeat him. He is a terrible Governor, but an excellent politician.

Democrats should not underestimate the appeal of a McCain/Sanford ticket to non-boomer voters, especially Gen-Xers. Despite its relatively small size, I think Gen-X is where this election will be won or lost. Boomers either love you or hate you. There are fewer and fewer older voters each year, and not that many Gen-Y's are old enough to vote yet.

If the Democrats can't win Gen-X voters, they will lose the election.

by wayward 2006-12-15 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

I am astonished that anyone could argue that an event like Vietnam could fade away, or will do so in the lifetime of anyone-- and I emphasize-- anyone now alive.   Much of this nation's politics are still being affected by the aftermath of the Civil War.  Look at the regional, southern power of the old Confederate states within the Republican Party and the conservative counter-revolution that has been going on since the 1970s.  In many ways the right is refighting the Civil War.   Has anyone here heard about the argument over states rights?  The Federalist Society?  Where does that come from?

This argument underestimates the long lasting impact these kinds of traumas have on societies.    In that sense, it is ahistorical.   In the Balkans they are still refighting conflicts that date to the 14th century.   As  Faulkner points, the past is not past.

It is also important to note that the number of families that were directly affected by the Vietnam War were vastly greater than those affected by Iraq.   First, the army sent to Vietnam was ultimately four times the size of the Iraq force.  Further, most  enlistedmen only went for one tour.   In Iraq, the same people are being sent again and again.   Those affected are being affected much more, but the overall affect on society is actually vastly less.   This partly explains the remarkable apathy of people  in their 20s.   As an above poster notes, in the last election it was mainly older boomers running door to door  dragging  young people away from their various and sundry game machines.   It was very distant to them, to say the least.

The Bush presidency will enormously affect American society and the United State's place in the world.   He has wrecked the American economy, is wrecking Bill Clinton's remarkable army and he has wrecked, at least for a time, America's place in the world.    But the Iraq War experience itself will pass quickly from the society as a whole,  because so few people were directly affected.  It will become the new "forgotten war" very much the way Korea became the forgotten war in the shadow of the much larger World War Two (and we are still living with the consequences of how that transformed America).

As for the political proclivities of Generation X, the surveys I see show this group to be the sandwich generation in between the boomers and the boomer's children, who largely share their parent's open, tolerant, progressive values.   GenX came of formative age in the Reagan era and as a whole seems to be at odds with the people before and after them.   I suspect this kind of divisive us versus them thinking will only work to the disadvantage of GenX.  Who created the "creative cities" concept?  The boomers.   Who pushed for an America that could embrace Obama as a president?  The boomers.  It could be argued that GenX ganged up with the pre-boomer generation to give us Reagan and Bush.    I am baffled by the mentality behind this venom aimed at the boomer generation.   As Rodney King says, can't we all get along?

by tea in the harbor 2006-12-15 04:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Who gave us George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich? The Boomers. You've got to take blame for the bad if you want to take credit for the good.

I don't see Gen-X as having a political identity right now, at least not along what we would consider to be "party lines". The Boomers are the generation in power and both political parties are spending most of their time and energy talking to Boomers. The conservative boomers are fighting the liberal boomers and younger voters have no use or interest for who did what in Vietnam, and are tuning out of a fight that is not their own.

Unfortunately, this creates a "circle of apathy" between Gen-X and the political culture. Gen-Xers tend to not pay attention to politics because politicians aren't addressing the issues that are important to them, politicians do not address the issues that are important to Gen-Xers because Gen-Xers aren't paying attention. Furthermore, X-ers aren't known for their loyalty to institutions, including political parties, so there is even less incentive to pay attention to them.

Even so, I see Gen-X as being surprisingly powerful given their relatively small size compared to the generation before and the generation after. I believe that will be Xer leaders who will be able to break through the Boomer vs. Boomer stalemate to be able to reach out to a wide range of voters. In fact, Gen-Xers (and near-Xers) who have been elected to leadership positions such as Barack Obama, Melissa Bean, Stephanie Herseth, Heath Shuler, and many others are already doing this. Because of the nature of each of the two parties, Xers are doing better as Democrats right now, but I see Xer Republicans coming on strong in the next 10 years.

It ought to be interesting.

by wayward 2006-12-15 02:41PM | 0 recs
Good point

And something I've been thinking about myself for a while.

While there are plenty of young people who are socially conservative, issues like gay marriage and abortion seem to matter less to young Republicans than they do older ones. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that all us Gen X'ers and Y'ers, regardless of political ideology, grew up with social liberalism as "the norm".

Our fights are more over economic and foreign policy issues, and I'd much rather debate those than topics like gay marriage (which will be a reality in this country).

However, the article does note that even after the political leadership may be in our hands, Boomers will still be the largest reliable voting bloc -- something to consider.

by LiberalFromPA 2006-12-15 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Good point

For the most part, the "social issues" aren't getting much traction among younger voters. Abortion has gotten some, but even here, younger voters opposed to abortion seem to be more interested in reducing abortion than making it illegal. Most young people are fairly tolerant and fairly pro-gay.

As for the young Republicans, there tend to be three types that I have observed.

1. Those who are Republicans because their parents are Republicans.

2. Uber libertarians. They have no use for the religious right, but have no interest in helping society either.

3. Religious conservatives. They are often conservative because that's the way they were raised, however, they do tend to be more liberal than their own parents.

by wayward 2006-12-15 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

I'm glad somebody beat me to the Faulkner quote.  Let me just add 2 more famous ones.  "Those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it." (Socrates or somebody?), and my favorite from Marx--"The weight of all the previous generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living."  So yeah, I understand why people younger than me feel that continuing debates over Vietnam, etc. are so oppressive.  But, the new war flows out of the same mindset that got us into Vietnam, about America's place in the world, and how the country defines its interests, its allies, and its enemies.  And who do we find out from Bob Woodward has been the emininence grise behind Bush on Irag?  The very pre-boomer Henry Kissinger, who wanted to replay Vietnam all over and get it right this time!   We are still trying to shake loose from the old, Cold Warriors (substitute terrorists for communists) let alone the 60's kids.

by jmf 2006-12-15 06:23AM | 0 recs
It Was Buffy, No Wait...

"Those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it." (Socrates or somebody?),
That would be:
    "You know what they say: 'those of us who fail History... doomed to repeat it in Summer school."
      Buffy, The Vampire Slayer in "Afterlife," Season 6, Episode 3.
No, wait...
    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
      Goerge Santayana, Reason in Common Sense, volume one of The Life of Reason.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-15 06:57AM | 0 recs
It's Not The Baby Boom Per Se That's Doing It

I think there's a huge act of misplaced causation here:

I am not endorsing Obama with this post--I actually voted for Edwards in the most recent Dailykos straw poll--but I have to admit a powerful, internal hunger to see the ground shift within the "culture wars" away from the long-standing paradigm of the 1960's. As someone born in 1974, as is probably the case with everyone in Generation X and forward, I just can't identify with all of that. As we have seen from 1992-2006, every single Baby Boomer based election will probably continue to be about Vietnam, the "counter-culture," the south as a distinct region, single-issue advocacy, "electability," and old, linear and single-issue based discussions of ideology. Enough already!
Vietnam and draft-dodging are legitimately tied to the Boomer generation.  But the rest have nothing specifically generational about them, and have more to do with the process of political dealignment resulting primarily from the Democrats embrace of Civil Rights.

There was, of course, a generational component to that, since the white Boomers were the first generation of whites to broadly questions and challenge the racist assumptions of their elders, while identifying in multiple ways with oppressed blacks.  But limiting civil rights to a matter of (white) generational politics is just another way of belittling and avoiding the basic issue of racial justice--an issue for which blacks themselves were the primary motive force, with a distinctly pre-Boomer leadership until the emergence of SNCC in the early 60s.

A truly excellent 2001 book about this broader constellation of political reconfiguration is Democracy Heading South National Politics in the Shadow of Dixie by Augustus B. Cochran III.  Publisher's Weekly said:

Cochran, a native Georgian labor lawyer and professor of political science at Agnes Scott College, uses V.O. Key's 1949 classic, Southern Politics, as a blueprint for analyzing fundamental structural pathologies in contemporary American politics, which he does with chilling clarity. "Key argued that because Southern politics lacked strong, responsive parties, was based on a narrow electorate, and was designed to perpetuate white supremacy, Southern electoral institutions lacked the coherence, continuity, and accountability that could make Southern politics rational and democratic." Just as this politics hobbled the South's ability to become an industrial democracy, Cochran argues, its contemporary structural twin is crippling America's ability to become a postindustrial democracy, with policies shaping global market forces to serve the common good.

"Specifically, the maladies of the Solid South included elections that ignored or blurred issues; weak, elitist and even demagogic leaders; a proclivity to avoid problems and coast along with the status quo; rampant corruption and policymaking by deals; voters who were confused and apathetic; an appallingly narrow electoral base, including low turnout among even those lucky enough to be enfranchised; a resulting tilt toward the elites, while the have-not majority got taken for a ride."

Explaining this list's familiar ring, Cochran fuses insights from an impressive range of fields, tracing the interaction of money in politics with historical processes of party realignment and carefully nuanced racial politics to produce a poorly aligned national two-party system that bears many one-party characteristics. Attentive to differences as well as similarities between the Old South and American politics today, Cochran's argument is subtle yet sweeping, profound yet almost self-evident once his powerfully coherent picture is completed.

More recently--roughly a year ago--Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's book, OFF CENTER: The Republican Revolution & the Erosion of American Democracy showed how conservatives in the GOP took advantage of that situation to build a razor-thin majority--a majority that was highly dependent on holding instutional power, which they have now lost.

I just heard Hacker on the radio, talking about his new book, The Great Risk Shift, but he spoke briefly about Off Center, saying he and Pierson have an article coming out at TNR, arguing in part that the GOP loss of congressional power could prove fatal to their whole setup, and Dems could be in control for a long, long time if they play their cards right.  (Agenda setting, and creating the illusion of "moderation" are key factors here.)

This dovetails with much that Chris and others have written about the growing regional isolation of the GOP.  These are the factors, IMHO, that will be far more significant.  They will not automatically dismantle everything on Chris's list.  But they will create pre-conditions for doing so.

Now, a new generation of activists certainly  will help in this process.  There is no doubt about this.  Old institutions are always most vulnerable to opposition by people who haven't grown to accept them. But single-issue advocacy groups, for example, were a response to a particular alignment of political forces.  That alignment has long since passed.

The groups persisted because of inertia. And the internet is helping to change that--not nearly fast enough, IMHO. But it is happening.  There's a generational component to this, of course, as I said before.  But a good number of Boomers--me, for one--have never liked this setup, have always criticized and resisted it.  And MyDD and DKos have both repeatedly pointed out that there are a lot more older users online--including Boomers--than the stereotypes suggest.

Finally, the generational focus distracts attention from a related demographic shift that's going to be even more profound--the shift to a minority majority nation, and the challenge to overcome the lingering dominance of a white electorate vs. a multi-cultural population.  Last Earth Day, I wrote an article that discussed how The Willie C. Velazquez Institute (the Southwest Voter Registration Project's think tank) is approaching the task of articulating a long-term integrated mutli-issue approach to political activism, specifically looking at their urban-centered, working-class approach to environmentalism, with very different linkages than old-fashioned Anglo environmentalism.

In short, I'm arguing that generational politics is just one facet of a much more complicated process, and to the extent that what's being rejected is a narrow, "old, linear and single-issue based discussions of ideology," then chalking it all up to a generational view of politics is itself an "old, linear and single-issue based discussion" that will continue to lead us astray.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-15 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Honestly Chris, That may be the best article you have ever written on here.  Amazing, hits the nail on the head and is just freakin fantastic.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-15 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Mark Sanford. Are you kidding? Surely you jest. He is the only person likely to  actually bring pigs that shit into the White House, not just on the lawn.

Surely you know the story? /27/2004052732244.htm 24.html

by buckbatard 2006-12-15 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Of course I know the story.

I also know he became a bit of a folk hero for it down here. If a VP Sanford brought pigs into the Senate chamber, I guarantee you that the American people would love it, even if it didn't do anything other than getting pig shit on the Capitol floor.

People who know what's going on know that Sanford is a terrible Governor. A lot of Republicans voted for Democrat Tommy Moore. However, most people don't follow politics and don't know what's going on, which is why Sanford won easily.

My point is that he is a master politician, and a rather unconventional one, even if he is a terrible Governor and even though I strongly disagree with his policies.

by wayward 2006-12-15 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Somehow the Permalink to the McCain/Sanford discussion is bringing up this post.  Please check those links!

by buckbatard 2006-12-15 07:11AM | 0 recs
Meet The New Culture War, Same As The Old Culture


So, instead of Boomer vs. Boomer, we have Gen's X and Y vs. Boomer.

This is real progress!

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-15 07:18AM | 0 recs
Too Caught up in Stereotypes to be Useful

Obama and generational stereotypes? It doesn't make sense to me.

People think in categories and stereotypes, but this doesn't always help with explaining things, especially when applied to political issues or candidates.

The boomer generation was not monolithic culturally or politically. The shallow consumer-cultural components (rock music for example) might have been widely shared, but the boomers as a generation never really shared a broad agreement regarding structural change, politically or economically.

We have all those sixties images of long-haired protestors, but in fact, that was a vocal minority, concentrated in the middle-class and at the colleges. Even in those supposed hotbeds of radicalism, many college students were normal, traditional, 'Mericans, interested in dating, careers, nice cars or stereos, church, etc, especially when the Vietnam war didn't impact them personally. (There were only a few years when the draft was actually hard to avoid. I'm 51, so I was close enough to worry about my draft number, and become politicized by the war, but they stopped taking people the year before I hit 18. The war didn't have the nearly same impact on my younger brother.)

The cultural divide that has been exploited most effectively by the Republicans as well as the press, is not generational. Instead they use differences between the classes as expressed by cultural stereotypes. The latte-swilling volvo-drivers vs the real-working-guy, or the traditional "normal" family in the heartland vs the San Francisco Liberal. Lots of code words to evoke homophobia and racism.

These cultural stereotypes are based in the culture wars of the sixties generation and they continue to do service for the Republicans in order to demonize those Libruls as the belonging to some other tribe.

by MetaData 2006-12-15 07:36AM | 0 recs

to use a vastly overused metaphor... you have hit this one out of the park my friend... whole hog.

It is so past time for our generation to start having some of the relevancy we deserve.

Also I commend you for not going too over the top with the generational warfare thing, as I have been known to do from time to time.


by neutron 2006-12-15 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The End of the 1960's?

Generational crises happen at regular intervals, and we are overdue. The Nixon Thesis is now 38 years old, while the FDR Thesis that preceded it died at 36, as did the Progressive Thesis that preceded it, and the Civil War Thesis that preceded it.

The thing with Obama lies in one number -- 44. That's his age. He was born in 1962. Technically he's a baby boomer, but he is not subject to all the tsuris of the Nixon Thesis or the AntiThesis.

There is enormous hope for finding a new way to argue, because our REAL problems are not being addressed by either the Nixon Thesis (pursued by Bush) or its AntiThesis (pursued by Clinton). Both are failed.

Much more at _philosophy/index.html

by Dana Blankenhorn 2006-12-16 04:49AM | 0 recs


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