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.This kind of nostalgia now slashes its way through today’s politics and policy debates, and its lack of connection to specific issues betrays its eighties-crafted anchor in intergenerational conflict.“This is nothing at all to do with health care,” said Tea Party leader Mark Williams in a CNN interview.“It’s about this nation deviating from, or this government more accurately, deviating from this nation’s legacy.”“Things we had in the fifties were better,” another Tea Party leader told The New York Times.“What we want is to get back to where our country was one hundred years ago,” said an Oklahoma Tea Party leader on CNN.“It’s kind of a time for another Eisenhower,” Bob Dole told Politico in a discussion about 2012 presidential candidates.The language—“back,” “real people,” “deviating from,” “slipping away,” “the way it was,” “different country than I grew up in,” “legacy,” “better time”—underscores the fierce yearning for a fantastical authenticity and conformity of old-time fifties America, sans the real-world downsides like lynch mobs, religious bigotry, burning crosses, chauvinism, union-busting, and smokestack pollution that plagued the mid-twentieth century.Whether or not Tea Party leaders are specifically pointing to the actual 1950s is less important than that the broader movement is advocating that bigger, 1980s-manufactured concept of The Fifties™.The tragedy, of course, is the elimination of the kind of moderate Republicanism that once played a pivotal political, cultural, and legislative role in the real 1950s and 1960s.Conservatives today accept no compromise positions on taxes, national security, social issues, or anything else, because to Republican leaders, conceding such middle ground is akin to aiding and abetting the hippies—an unthinkable proposition, but not just to them.Let’s be honest—since the 1980s, Democrats have largely surrendered the memory of the sixties, placating—rather than challenging—the “Die, Hippie, Die!” frame.This—not just campaign contributions and corruption—explains why they have refused to champion a wildly popular Medicare for Everybody idea—they simply don’t want to re-litigate the sixties.This too helps explain why President Obama has refrained from cracking down on exorbitant Wall Street pay—he fears being called a “redistributionist” and being lumped in with the sixties radicals he spent his campaign fleeing from.No doubt, the dynamic is most pronounced on issues of war and peace.The 1980s lampooned antiwar activists as a modern sixties counterculture disciples whose unrealistic pacifism endangered the country.Yet, rather than using the Iraq War to change this image and remind the country that the Vietnam protests of the sixties stopped a similarly wrongheaded policy, most congressional Democrats simply validated the sixties hatefest by supporting the invasion, fearing “no” votes would get them tarred and feathered as hippies, just as they had been in the Reagan years.When Iraq turned into a Vietnam-like quagmire, the process just picked up where it had left off—even as the antiwar movement was proven correct, conservatives nonetheless vilified the left as hippies driven by blind anger and ideology, and Democrats responded by essentially agreeing.A back-and-forth during the conflict’s bloody months in the summer of 2007 tells the tale.Writing in the The New York Times Magazine, war proponent Michael Ignatieff summed up the hawks’ argument, saying that while progressive antiwar protesters may have “correctly anticipated catastrophe,” they did so “not by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology.” Putting forward Jeane Kirkpatrick’s “blame America first” argument, he added that antiwar voices are motivated by a sixties-hatched belief that “America is always and in every situation wrong.”That same week, influential Democratic politicians made headlines echoing the same argument.In a story headlined “Centrist Democrats Take on Left over Iraq,” Politico reported that leading lawmakers warned the supposedly all-powerful hippies that they would risk losing the presidency “if they present a face to the public that is too angry in tone” in opposing the war.The volleys and countervolleys exposed what, on the merits, should be unimaginable oxymorons.To continue a perpetual backlash, conservatives since the 1980s have developed a vested interest in preserving the memory of a 1960s that was, in reality, the historic apex of progressive achievement.At the same time, progressives now flee from that era as if it were their dark ages.Even more absurd, the right, through the Tea Party movement, now uses the very sixties protest tactics that ended the fifties to make its case for ending The Sixties and bringing back The Fifties—for fear of a new sixties they believe is on the horizon [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]