Thursday, September 4, 2008

1968 and 2008

In a very real sense this presidential campaign is a battle between 1968 and 2008. Obama's message is final culmination of the work of Abby Hoffman, Bobby Seal, et. al. And there is a sense that they have been working for this for forty years. Bill Clinton offered a little hope, but Clinton was really with ideals. When push came to shove, he signed on to Republican ideas because it gave him a positive legacy.

In contrast, Sarah Palin is a child of the Reagan era. It's hard for people to grasp the effect of Reagan on a generation, unless they are just that age. I'm two months older than Palin. So I think I know the national milieu in which she came of age. Our parent told us about the great victories and accomplishments of our nation. My grandfather would puff out his chest and talk about building sub chasers and destroyer escorts at Defoe shipyard, so we could win World War II. Yet, we had a generation of radicals on the news determined to lose the war we were currently fighting. Yet, every person I knew personally supported our war in Vietnam. Then we went though Watergate. People were pretty demoralized. But we got a reprieve with the Bi-Centennial celebration. But the respit was short. The economy tanked. My father was one of the few adults I knew that wasn't laid off from their job. I knew of no young people that had a job. Then came this guy from California. Standing with the Statue of Liberty in the background he said something that made us laugh and sent chills up our 16 year old spins at the same time: "A recession is when your neighbor is out of work, a depression is when you are out of work, and recovery is when Jimmy Carter is out of work!" I got that same feeling when I heard Sarah Palin say: "I guess a small town mayor is a little like a community organizer, but with real responsibilities." This was a Reagan like zinger, delivered with charm and a smile.

The time is running out on 1968. That set of ideas, which was bad to start with, is aging fast and without much grace. But the Reagan babies area just coming of age. 2008 is the year for the Reagan revolution to burst back on the scene with a new generation of inspiring leaders.