Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kids These Days

I offer this claim: "young people are skeptical of the traditional political ideologies, and even more skeptical of ideological claims and arguments." Not only do I believe it, I believe it ties together many of the insights offered here, which I will shamelessly plagiarize forthwith. Seriously -- if you don't read the posts over there then you're an accomplice.

Obama's not a radical, and therefore pundits seem confused as to what the young people see in him. But "young people" aren't hippies or beatniks or yuppies or neocons anymore -- they've seen (or heard about) those "isms" and have no desire to be the victim of still more broken promises. Most recently, they've seen huge deficits, violations of civil liberties, and an unprovoked war passed off as "conservative" and they ain't buyin' whatever the next snake oil
guy is sellin'. (Or as Dr. S put it, they [and we] are starved for the truth.)

But Obama's not offering suspect promises -- he's offering "a voice for the truth." Young people (maybe us too?) want to get off the fruitless swinging pendulum and do indeed yearn for normalcy. The pundits have not realized (and some may not be able to) that this is the new radicalism.

Of course, there's a hidden ideology in what you think "normal" is. And in this sense Obama's vision (as articulated by LTG) of a "post-racial, post-conflict America at peace" is indeed pretty radical, and I think precisely in line with what "the young people" think of as the ideal "normal".

But it's not a particularly political ideology -- there isn't some broad ideal scheme for how we should get from here to there. Instead, there are plenty of "obvious" incremental steps toward that particular utopia. Elect a black president. Base diplomacy on something more than macho posturing. Get the heck out of Iraq. Stop torturing people.

It is perhaps sad that we have sunk so low that there's a long list of obvious problems (maybe a presidential term's worth) that can be fixed before you run out of low-hanging fruit and actually have to consult an overarching political perspective to guide your next move. But it does give us the rare opportunity to try the radical experiment of "rationality" for a while.

Or, alternatively, we could elect McCain.

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