Obama and The Death of 1968

With the nomination (and likely election) of Barack Obama, it is time to recognize a long overdue truth. 1968 is dead. Let me explain.

I have scrupulously avoided the recent spate (will it go on all year?) of stories about the significance of 1968. I wasn’t yet born then and my parents were too old or were, perhaps, culturally disinclined to join the hippie revolution. Nevertheless, 1968 happened. I know this because, like everyone born since then, I have been told that I’ve been living in its shadow for my entire life.

It hasn’t been easy. For one thing, my parents did take advantage of one “Me” generation imperative: the divorce. For another, the evanescent nature of our cultural mores since that time has been a challenge to adapt to. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they’ve changed. And, often, for the worse.

But what could one expect? These children were formed in a post-wartime nation; children that came of age in a country that had changed so rapidly – from television, drugs, and widespread prosperity. Their burdens were few. Of course they would rebel against their crew cut father in the Grey Flannel Suit and their silently seething housewife mother trapped in the Feminine Mystique. Of course.

So their rebellion was understandable. And it didn’t hurt that there were, again, all those great drugs (where did they come from?) and the Vietnam War around to try and get the boys killed.

But this didn’t make it any easier to take their self-celebrating indulgence, their self-righteous proselytizing, and their self-involved carelessness. We, who came after this generation, suffered at their hands.

And it has been our responsibility to clean up their mess (which we have slowly been doing for years).

You can see this everywhere. In the caution those of us born after 1968 take with our marriages. With the care we devote to our children. With the hard work we apply to our jobs and country (the entire Internet revolution is a product of Generation X / Millennial initiative). And with our good faith efforts to understand and connect with those who are different from us.

For the last sixteen years, we have had to live with the realized culmination of the 60s cultural wars. First with the hippie proxy Clintons and now, still, endlessly, with their countercultural opposite, the establishment frat boy Bush. It hasn’t been pleasant. And, as a result, America has never, in my lifetime (how about yours?), been in so dire a position as it is today.

In short, that generation has failed.

Which is why I now, with the candidacy (and likely presidency) of Barack Obama, proclaim the death of 1968.

Obama is one of us; a caring, hard-working father who seeks understanding and rational, utilitarian solutions to our country’s problems. He is a man who can put aside the differences of 1968 and take the best of both sides of that war of circularity. He is a post-hippie, born in that time, but not of it, with the capacity to see beyond the near horizon to a farther shore, to literally embody a greater destiny for our country; a place where the goodness of 1968 comes from both sides of the cultural divide.

Will this be easy? No. The torch will have to be pried out of the hands of our elders (witness Hillary Clinton’s craven campaign). But pry it we will. And when that time comes, the country, and the world, will be better off.

Of this, we can all be certain.

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16 Responses to Obama and The Death of 1968

  1. quentin says:

    (…the entire Internet revolution is a product of Generation X / Millennial initiative)

    Revolution? The Web has devolved into an amorphous global-scale marketing focus group session. There is nothing “revolutionary” about it at all, my “millenial” friend!

  2. Rob Howard says:

    ??????? Can you name even one policy in which Obama differs from the hippies? The whole anti-war thing is little more than an attempt to resurrect 1968.

  3. THOM STEVENS says:

    IJNDTERSTING POINTS ON THE “FAILURES” OF THE 1968 GENERATION AS THAT OF DTHE SIXTIES AND EARLY SEVENTIES. ALBET, WE DID NOT DO WELL IN CERTAIN AREAS, THAT IS SURELY A REAL POINT, BUT I ASK YOU TO READ SOCRATES COMMENTS ABOUT THE GENERATION THAT FOLLOWED HIM.

    THE BATTLE AGAINST GROSS MATERIALISM AND ATTACHMENT TO THINGS RATHER THAN IDEAS WAS AN ABSOLUTE FAILURE–IN FACT THIS GENERATION IS MORE “HUNG UP” ON STUFF THAN WE EVER WERE IN THOSE DAYS3

    WHERE I DIFFER WITH YOU IS ON THE HISTORICAL NATURE OF LIFE. ACTIVITIES THEN, AND A POSITIVE APPROACH BY THOSE PARENTS WHO WERE IN THE VARIOUS MOVEMENTS HAVE MADE THIS PRESENT GENERATION ALMOST–NOT QUITE–BOTH “COLORBLIND AND GENDERBLIND”. THERE ARE STILL ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED BY YOUR GENERATION MY SON AMONG YOU) AND THOSE ARE THE FAILURES OF OUR GENERATION WHICH IS REGARDS TO WAR, GREED AND SELF IMPORTANCE MUST BE ADDRESSED SO THAT FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL LOOK BACK AT YOURS AND WORK ON THE FAILURES THAT OCCURED DURING YOUR TENURE.

    THANKS FOR A GOOD ARTICLE

    THOM STEVENS
    655 EDEL AVE.
    MAYWOOD, NJ 07607

    PS. I TYPED IN CAPS AS I AM LEGALLY BLIND AND THIS ALLOWS ME A BETTER LOOK AND IS MUCH EASIER. THANKS

  4. Michael says:

    As a child of the 60′s and the boomer genertion, I cannot honestly mourn its passing, except where it touches on personal friends and acquaintances. We were the most self centered, self absorbed, childish, foolish, and easily fooled generation that ever was. So I agree with your observations of my g-g-generation, and hope you are correct that 1968 is dead.

    I disagree with your take on Mr. Obama. I think, at this point in his career, he is nothing more than 1 more smooth talking, good sounding dreamer. Hey the world needs dreamers too. But for a position of authority and leadership requiring high levels of executive skill, you want a do-er, one with a record of accomplishment. Perhaps Mr. Obama may achieve that as he continues to work, serve and grow. But he isn’t there now, and to elect him president at this stage of his development would be like re-electing Jimmy Carter. I think Obama has more potential, but at this stage is just as naive and unprepared for the level of leadership required. Work another 8 years showing true leadership, proposing game changing legislation, working bi-partisanly across the aisles to get buy-in and build the networks and connections that make an executive leader effective; in the meantime gain valuable experience. Then come back and ask for my vote. Until then, nada. Unlike my-g-g-generation, “I wont get fooled again”.

  5. Jack Foster says:

    A rather parochial analysis, I think. Why attack boomers? We’re going to need their votes come November!

  6. Leef says:

    Personally, I would feel a whole lot better about Obama if he had a) more experience in Washington (I mean, one term as Senator, zero accomplishments in Congress?), b) were much more specific about his ideas and plans for the economy, the war, social issues, etc., etc., c) could answer the questions, “Change from what? Change to what? Change why?”

  7. Sandy says:

    We of the 60′s are still around and have matured and understand the problem’s of this country. We have lived through major race riots – Vietnam war and many other issues in this country.

    Do not dismiss the older voters of this country and say they are forgotten.

    They are the true patriots of this country and cannot be dismissed so easily.

    They are also the most reliable voters in this country and should not be dismissed as a past generation.

    When you reach our age and have lived your life then you can dismiss us.

  8. Frank says:

    “America has never, in my lifetime (how about yours?), been in so dire a position as it is today.”

    Ah, from the mouths of babes… Either you were born sometime during the second term of Ronald Reagan or are a lousy student of contemporary history. I am older, but still only a tail-end boomer and can assure you, times, not all that long ago, have been much more, so muchly much more, dire than today. NOT. EVEN, CLOSE.

    To echo Michael a bit, Reagan succeeded the Carter admnistration that saw an economic morass including double digits in unemployment, interest rates, and inflation. He proceeded to solve these problems with lower taxes, less regulation and smaller government – - precisely the oppostite solutions being proposed by Senator Obama, obviously another terrible student of history.

    If he wins I hope he can muster his highly self proclaimed judgement to surround himself with a group of older advisors with at least a basic grasp of these historic facts. If he doesn’t he is neither as smart or jusdicious as his promotors claim.

    It looks like the election will hinge on whether Obama can fool enough youngsters the first time to outnumber those of us oldsters who “won’t get fooled again.”

  9. gary says:

    have you ever wondered what happened to the hippies. those that didn’t fry their brains have infiltrated our social institutions. they became school administrators, teachers. college professors(of course),judges,politicians,government bureaucrats.greenies,etc.they have managed to cleverly and incrementely change and control our lives and have created a second rate nation.Obama is their messiah.

  10. USMC GI Bill Veteran. says:

    The author has simply “missed it”. I am a 60′s person… I, and the vast bulk of people from the 60′s worked hard, raised our families, stayed with our wives… No big deal.

    There is a clear minority from that time that found it difficult to even begin to lead responsible lives… “The self-indulgent few”, I think. These people went on into Liberal Politics, Academia, etc. I know them when I see them.

    Obama is clearly of that group, via his mother. What the author is trying to pass as ‘something new’ and not part of 1968 is just plain wrong. Obama & political party are just the 60′s, round 2.

  11. Democritus says:

    I am afraid that Obama is the very embodiment of 1968, as is suggested by his training in the tactics of Saul Alinksy and his association with the likes of Ayres, Khalidi, and Wright. Please, no accusations of guilt-by-association, for Obama’s relative lack of experience makes it necessary to consider who has been responsible for his formation. There is very little in the way of an objective record for the junior senator and community organizer. If he differs with 1968 in any way, it probably is in the rationality and practicality of which you speak, for unlike the pleasure-seeking, self-indulgent, and phony revolutionaries of 1968 Obama is probably a real radical, one who is prepared to act. Beware! If he is elected, we are in for a clamorous and turbulent four years, not at all the sweet post-partisan times his rhetoric suggests.

  12. Chad3337 says:

    There is not one shred of evidence that Mr. Obama intends to work with both sides of the cultural divide. Don’t be fooled by his chimera-like qualities. He is a product and prototype of the far left, and will govern from that perspective. I can’t think of even a single issue on which he has come up with a novel or bipartisan solution.

    Unfortunately, I think he is going to win. The retaliation and blow-back when voters discover that he’s neither prophetic nor able to deliver on his messianic, grandiose promises will be enormous, and will breed a level of cynicism more profound than exists even now.

  13. smg45acp says:

    Obama is just another incarnation of the failed policies of the 60′s liberals.

    He has nothing new to add to the already tried and failed policies of liberal Democrats that have come and gone before him. Resurrect Lyndon Johnson die him black, make him 30 years younger and you have Obama.

    He is just repackaging of the same old 60′s crap. But without all the great music and crazy hairdos and fashions.

  14. KHamp222 says:

    No one was apparently concerned with the lack of experience of George Bush, who screwed up so badly in his first term that the country apparently felt he needed extra time to complete the assignment … like a kid with a phony diagnosis of ADHD taking the SAT.

    These words “experience” and so on–they’re just code words for “status quo”. And the people who deploy them–the status quo, as sick and screwed up as it is, is working for them and they don’t care what they have to do– they’ll sell all three billion people on the planet down the river to protect the good deal they and their friends have got.

    But it’s not working for the vast majority of Americans–it’s not working for the planet which has been irreparably damaged by the oil men and their binge. This insanity is bringing us to a tipping point. The planet is dying, our prestige is rotting on the vine, our constitution is in shreds, our people are scared of their own shadows, the Soviets think we’re a joke because of the mess the “experienced” candidates have made of the past 8 years. And Putin’s just the beginning…

    You guys have simply got to admit it: you f’ed the pooch, thoroughly, egregiously, and irreparably.

    That’s why so many people are saying: Step aside, boys. There’s a new sheriff in town. Even if Obama loses, your day is DONE. He’s awakened a sense of hope, of possibility, that many would give anything to snuff out–because it threatens your self-interest.

    Keep flapping your jaws–keep flailing about in your negativity–the world is going to change whether you like it or not, whether you give it permission or not. And you can get with the program, or get left behind. It’s as simple as that.

  15. susankps says:

    KHamp222, the 60′s generation had a slogan, “Don’t trust anyone over 30″. 30! What arrogance. It’s almost unbelievable. From the tone of your reply and many similar remarks I’ve heard from the younger generations, I’d have to say the boomers seem to be on the receiving end of some pretty nasty karma they put out 40 years ago.

  16. susankps says:

    Sorry, it was “You can’t trust anyone over 30.”

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