The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Battle of the Sixties

A little optimism is kinda nice every once in a while, right? As reality has peeled support away from the GOP and caused the right's politicians to turn the Slime-O-Matic campaign machine up to eleven, we're seeing the inevitable result: the people still cheering loudly at GOP events are the scariest elements of the true-believing base. Racists, the desperately ignorant, religious fanatics, ideologues, and so on. In other words, the first people to join extremist movements and the last people to give up on a lost cause.

E.J. Dionne takes a look at it all and suggests that maybe this is it-- the last time we'll see the right campaign on the bitter legacy of the 1960s. The embarrassing idea that fighting in Vietnam was a brilliant plan somehow subverted by treasonous hippies. The lingering fears that a racially integrated/non-theocratic/equitable society will cause national collapse before you can say "bust up this chifforobe."

Ayers has been dragged into this campaign because there is a deep frustration on the right with Obama's enthusiasm for shutting down the culture wars of the 1960s.

Precisely because Obama is not a baby boomer, he carries none of that generation's scars. Most Americans (including most boomers) are weary of living in the past and reprising the 1960s every four years.

Yet culture war politics is relatively mild compared with the far right appeals that are emerging this year. It is as if McCain's loyalists overshot the '60s and went back to the '50s or even the '30s.

I disagree with his larger point that a new hard-right is rising phoenix-like from the ashes of McCain's presidential bid. After all, the "mainstreaming of the far right" is a process that began in the Reagan years and reached its zenith under the current administration. Sure, if you were to hang around with a group of College Republicans you'd hear them making the same tired remarks about Vietnam and the Black Panthers, but from footage of McCain and Palin's campaign appearances it looks like the faithful are more AARP than UCLA.