Obama's speech on race this week came at the precise moment when I'd been mulling over his appeal to my generation of boomers. It's been somewhat staggering for me to encounter the number of close friends of my own '60s-generation cohort who, in the past few weeks, have been rather quietly confessing to me their own begrudging admiration for Obama.
And I do mean confessing. For those of us who grew up reading Ramparts, not Facebook, it's somewhat uncomfortable, if not downright embarrassing, to admit to investing any real hope in a Democratic presidential candidate. It might be hard for the Millennials or even the Xers to fully grasp, but my generation was radicalized by LBJ Democrats more than by Nixon Republicans. We thought Jimmy Carter was a Southern conservative (and we were right). Bill Clinton, we thought, was the best Republican president since Ike (and I think the record confirms that notion as well).
But along came John Edwards and Obama this time around, and it was hard to deny that we were starting to hear some of the same arguments we had wearily been making over the last four decades finally coming from the presidential-campaign stump.
Not that we've been pushovers for Obama's message of Change We Can Believe In. Coming to us veterans of the Gulf of Tonkin, Chicago '68 and Kent State, it is a little bit like the Jehovah's Witnesses trying to hawk the latest edition of The Watchtower at a convention of atheists.
But I know I speak for these same friends when I say you can now count us among the O-boomers. We've sipped no Kool-Aid, nor been seduced by focus-grouped campaign rhetoric, nor driven senseless by finely tuned speechifying. Instead, we've looked around and reached three simple conclusions:
Cross-posted at L.A. Weekly.
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