Home > Uncategorized > The REAL Boomer Prototype is NOT an Aging Flower Child…

The REAL Boomer Prototype is NOT an Aging Flower Child…

July 27, 2019

I just finished reading a week-old NYTimes article by Charles Homan titled “Bob Dylan and the Myth of Boomer Idealism”. The article was mostly about Martin Scorsese’s recent movie, Rolling Thunder Review”, which was a partly fictionalized account of a series of concerts Bob Dylan did in 1975. But the overarching theme was captured in this sentence that appeared near the middle of the article:

We know now that the real story wasn’t the people at the protests and the concerts; it was all the people who weren’t.

As one who did attend protests and concerts, but also one who worked with the public in an effort to pass school budgets and improve schools, this has always seemed true to me. My “fellow boomers” often appeared at the microphone complaining about how their taxes were being squandered on public education. They sometimes showed up to protest a syllabus that included a book about the traumas of growing up poor and Hispanic. More unsettling, they appeared at the microphone when we wrestled with re-drawing attendance zones so that schools were more racially and economically diverse. Where, I wondered, were those “fellow boomers” who sought a better world for the poor and downtrodden, who wanted a more progressive form of education?  As I observed national politics it became evident that “the people at the protests and the concerts” had little impact on elections even though pundits tended to think of the Boomers as flower children. Later in the same article Mr. Homan writes:

Today’s politics are shaped far less by the intra-Democratic street fighting of 1968 or Vietnam or Watergate than by the subtler, structural consequences of the Civil Rights and Immigration and Nationality Acts: the black-and-white part of the ’60s, not the Day-Glo coda that dominates the ex-hippie narrative.

I’m not sure Mr. Homan is entirely right in this assessment. I think that the intra-Democratic street fighting of 1968…Vietnam and Watergate DO dominate our politics today as much as Civil Rights and immigration. The progressive wing of the Democrats, who are chastised by the moderate DNC and largely marginalized by the mainstream media, represent those who went to protests and concerts and understood what the street-fighting of 1968 was about even if they didn’t support it. They also view any form of war as unacceptable and see the burgeoning budgets for the military as wasteful. They also have faith in government DESPITE the Watergate episode in our history, remaining fully engaged in the ideals of politics despite the smarmy undertow Watergate exposed. The Progressives also want racial justice as well as economic justice and want to restore America as the City of the Hill, the nation that welcomes those who are downtrodden and oppressed by their government.

One thing I am sure of: in 2020 we need to restore our focus on the ideals of this country instead of the power of this country. If we do so, that debate will be the focal point of all elections and we will have a substantial debate on ideas instead of a superficial round of name-calling.



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