Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Revolution Is Still Here

We remain a nation divided. The rift that formed in the 60s never went away. Like those of us who live in seismically active areas, the country – particularly the baby boomer generation – only acclimated to coexistence with the fault. Economic prosperity and career-building, the everyday world of rearing families, the new technologies that make our lives ever more comfy, all are nothing more than loosely composed landfill; hiding the geologically unstable foundation of our society. The divide remains. Has there ever been such an example of all-persuasive group denial? A socio-political Pompeii? Now, we – and the generations who came after us - are living with the consequences of a new and nasty swarm of seismic shocks.

Perhaps "The Revolution” of 35 years ago wasn’t The Big One. Maybe we’re in the midst of a tectonic realignment, which is still playing out over our lifetimes.

In a recent column, David Broder cited, of all people, Marilyn Quayle. He quoted her ’92 republican convention speech:

"Remember, not everyone joined in the counterculture. Not everyone demonstrated, dropped out, took drugs (aside by me: alcohol & cocaine are not drugs, eh Dubya?), joined in the sexual revolution or dodged the draft (aside by me: Cheney & Ahscroft got multiple deferments, Bush was MIA from his reservist duty, but none of that is dodging). Not everyone concluded that American society was so bad that it had to be radically remade by social revolution. . . . The majority of my generation lived by the credo our parents taught us: We believed in God, in hard work and personal discipline, in our nation's essential goodness, and in the opportunity it promised those willing to work for it. . . . Though we knew some changes needed to be made, we did not believe in destroying America to save it."

And there it is. Her words sit in plain sight, like a radically diverted stream bed on an otherwise benign landscape. Broder, back in ’92, predicted the baby boomers would be “leaning on your walkers and beating each other with your canes, because you still will not have settled the arguments from the Sixties."


He was right. There are two Americas.

The glorious experiment that was the 60s ended. The cultural icons, our leaders, were snuffed out, flamed out or assimilated. The conflict never resolved itself. Jimi Hendrix, just before he too stayed too long at one too many parties, saw the signs of full portent: “you’d better hope love is the answer, you’d better hope it comes before the summer.”

Is this election part of Hendrix’s apocalyptic vision? The battle lines are most definitely being redrawn. Swift Boat bitter vets, mustering for battle.
Paul Krugman speaks of The Rambo Coalition. Will it take a confrontation with the Rainbow Children (who have aged into the Rainbow People) to resolve this division once and for all?

An intervention clearly is in order. But who will provide the wisdom and decency needed, to prevail, over blood?

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