Monday, July 14, 2008

Victory Lap

So, the candidate this blog tacitly approved of became the presumptive Democrat nominee.

And the reason why, I think, has more to do with one factor than any other.

No, not race (or...actually...a seeming lack thereof), or sunny optimism. Not sweeping oratorical skills, either. And, no, not even liberal politics in the middle of a Democratic revival.

I think Obama's ascension has the most to do with his age.

Now, I'm not discounting all the other things, because those clearly helped immeasurably...but the real challenge is explaining how "lack of experience" didn't knock him out of contention in Round One. But consider -- what's the one thing that could simultaneously explain away "lack of experience" and (in the right light) be an asset?

By way of explanation, I've been a little generation focused these last few weeks thanks to this book (thanks KK!). Granted, the author is making a case for Generation X relevancy, while hating on the Boomers (like my Ma and Pa -- for being lasped hippies who've sold everyone out for a coupla dollars more while shameless peddling thier sixties mantras like they still mean something) and the Millennials (like myself {and, if you're reading this, probably you} -- who the author claims are too wrapped up in the superconnected, monoculture, narcissistic consumerist world our Boomer parents left us to care a lick about anything bigger than ourselves). Needless to say, he namechecks Obama as an uber X-er.

Now, I'm not going to necessarily go down the whole road with him, because I (for one) haven't written off everyone born between the mid-seventies and mid-nineties as ineffectual quite yet. But I do whole heartedly agree that Boomers have lost almost all moral authority. Consider most of our government has been ruled by these Boomers for at least a decade and a half. And all of them are feeling either slightly guilty or slightly ashamed. Consider our last two presidents -- Bill essentially ran his campaign as a modern hippie, yet once in office was the most pro-business, centrist democrat ever. Dubya ran as a straight-laced conservative who would bring true morals back to White House, yet back in the day was a hard partying boozer with an inferiority complex (whose psychodrama continues to play out on the world stage). Neither was quite the straight shooter they pretended to be. Both of thier narratives, in fact, contained huge shifts in points of view. Bill was the college radical made straight. Dubya was the partyboy made straight. Neither actually believed anything then...and probably still not now.

Compare, please, to Barack Obama.

Read his race speech. (In essence, that's pretty much all I need to say on the subject).

If you were like me, prior to that, you didn't even believe politics could be played like that in the United States. You're ear for political discourse had become so atrophied you didn't believe there could even exist (in the words of Mr. Stewart) a candidate who speaks to the American people "like they're grown ups." Barack, in that speech, was balls out. What he believes isn't pretty and gussied up -- the way an individual in the middle of generationwide realligning of values has to be. He's open, saying here I am and here is the way it is. If you're going to argue against me, you're going to have to argue on substance, not on keywords and catchphrases.

Obama knows that the thing that trumps experience is judgement...and to any generation born post-1960, judgement rings true when presented with honesty. Intellectual honesty. Boomers don't know how to do that. They don't because their entire generation is built on a huge lie -- the lie of peace and love and all that bullshit -- which clearly no longer exists. Boomers are the reason we have Celestial Seasonings and carbon credits and Whole Foods (and from the other side, things that sound 60's friendly, like Compassionate Conservatism and No Child Left Behind and the notion of "evildoers"). The sold out concepts of hippie idealism, repackaged for 2008.

Fortunately for us, that shit don't cut the mustard no more.

Now, there's alot of them out there . . . but they don't have a pony in this race. They (ha ha!) have been put into the position of voting for their parents or their offspring. I don't, unfortunately, have much faith in them. But they've been in control of politics in this country for 16 years. It's not a force to take lightly. On the flipside, there's clearly enough in us to win this election. The truth is, as time goes on, we've got alot more at stake. Let's make it happen.

(PS -- Yes, I made some broad generational generalizations. Of course I don't believe that about every member of said generation. Sorry if you're offended, Mom. {I know you're not a hippy.})

(PPS -- I don't think my Mom reads this.)

(PPPS -- I hope not.)

Barack on a bumper car image from The Big Picture which you should check out if you enjoy bright shiny things.

Without Further Comment #19 ("OK, Done!" edition)