Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Counter Cultural Concerns

Most of Europe regards the 1960s as a decade of music (inevitably), the cementing of the Berlin Wall & les evenements et le soixante-huitards. In the US, however, the legacy of that decade has been, well, a little more disputatious. At the heart of the divide that opened up during that period was the Vietnam War, an issue which has both directly & indirectly had a bearing on every US Presidential race since.
This was the basis for a Guardian article by Michael Tomasky on Monday ( ):
"Unfortunately liberal baby boomers themselves have all too frequently lived up to the caricatures the right has drawn. Many lionise the decade (which is natural -- they had their youth, the music was great, and nobody cared about sexually transmitted diseases) and think, on some level: 'If only politics could be like that again.' They tend to forget the bad parts, of which there were plenty."
Tomasky's central argument is that the Republicans' obsession with the legacy of the 60s would be perpetuated with Hillary Clinton as the Democrats' candidate in November.
Obama was born in 1961 & therefore, as Tomasky drily notes, "it is a pretty safe bet that he wasn't out there throwing Molotov cocktails at the age of seven."
The baby boomer element of the Democrats has been its biggest drawback as well as, occasionally, its greatest asset. Bill Clinton was elected largely on the issue of the US economy in 1992. However, his relative youth, compared to George H.W. Bush, was seized upon by many of Clinton's contemporaries who wanted the "Woodstock Generation" to govern America rather than someone who fought in World War II. The downside of this element for the Democrats is that this generation is now perceived, rightly or wrongly, as hedonistic, fickle & self-centred. Many voters under 45 see Hillary Clinton's continued candidacy as proof that the baby boomer generation won't hand on the torch to those who came of age in the Reaganite 80s, such as Obama. The Republicans will assuredly make political capital with that (never mind that John McCain is 72).
An unexpected development on Monday was Michael Moore's endorsement of Obama ( ).
The film maker backed Ralph Nader in 2000. Viewed from this side of the Atlantic, Nader again appears to be the most progressive & substantial candidate, but I can understand Moore's decision to back the Ohio senator.

No comments: