Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Progressive Turn In America?

One thing I've noticed here in the South during the presidential campaigns for Senator Obama and Senator Clinton: the fairly quick withering worldview regarding non-whites and women. The good thing here is that the comments I've heard quickly ID the speakers as having some serious prejudices -- good to know who they are and that their days of power are dissolving. Clinging to past prejudices in light of change is a sure sign of extinction.

I recently overheard a county constable, who has been on the county payroll since sometime before Eisenhower I think, tell a most nasty joke about these two major contenders for the presidency. And no, I'm not going to repeat it. The joke, if you want to call it that, fell flat among the listeners, and none rebuked him. Was it mercy for the old geezer whose views and his days of power are fading fast? It was most generous if it was mercy, then.

Publius at Obsidian Wings made some noteworthy comments on the very historic event of Senator Obama's rise to prominence:

And all of this was accomplished by a black man named Barack Hussein Obama, in a nation of former slaveholders in a post-9/11 world.

I pride myself on being fairly cynical. Like any good child of the 90s, I’ve watched more than my share of Larry David. And I understand the frustrations that Clinton supporters and more hardened, cynical Obama supporters feel when they hear all the naive gushing praise for him — particularly from young people.

But they need to understand that many of us have never had a moment like this. We’ve never really been inspired — we’ve never “looked up” at candidates in a Paul Fussell “Romantic” sense. Candidates have never been bigger than us — we look down on them, we criticize, we tell dry jokes, we watch the Daily Show. We’re just not that inspired.

But for the first time, a lot of people are inspired. I don’t really remember 1992, and I didn’t exist in 1960. So I don’t know what this feels like. But I’m excited — I’m not in cult-like worship mode, but for the first time in my political life, I’m genuinely excited about the opportunities ahead. Maybe that will prove silly — maybe the proverbial 1968 lies just ahead. For now, though, I’m excited.

But even if 1968 lies ahead, who cares. When you see your teenage children experiencing crushes for the first time, you hopefully don’t call them over and say “these emotions you’re feeling now, they will soon be crushed.” You pat them on the back and wish their doomed enterprise well, and maybe savor a few youthful memories of your own.

And who knows, maybe this time, the good guys will win. Maybe in this version, there is no Nixon -- no 1968. Maybe Mercutio survives. It’s a historic and exciting time — progressivism appears to be in an intellectual revival. The Democrats — having shed its Dixiecrat wing — are poised to command the most progressive majority in American history."

I on the other hand remain a cynic. I do recall watching the '68 convention and the aftermath, I've seen the continued evidence of endless corruption and abuse of federal powers, I've seen great ideas rise, flourish and fall to the wayside when needs get a new focus. (Isn't it appropriate here to also say "I've seen the best minds of my generation ...."??)

I do see much optimism with an Obama presidency, but I also know that change is seldom legislated. It can happen, up to a point, and then the non-elected Americans will have to continue the job.

No comments:

Post a Comment