03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated 3 days ago

A Nasty Political Stomping -- What Now?

Joe Lieberman gave us a heavy stomping. So today he's strutting around Washington with a humongous smile and boasting he showed them. Why did Joe do a quick U-turn on expanding Medicare? Because liberals favored an expansion of Medicare!

And he certainly showed younger Americans when it comes to the crucial issues of the day -- the war in Afghanistan, bailing out Wall Street, health care for all of us -- old Joe is the winner and the Obama brigade is mincemeat.


For the youth of America, your wake-up call has arrived. Only seems only a few months ago you were preaching that Barack Obama's victory had brought a new day to America. The old divisions of the Baby Boomer Generation were past; the country was uniting and moving beyond the old battles. Well, do you hear the ring of the alarm clock? The dream is over.

The Baby Boomer battles are not generational battles, they're national. They are, exaggerating just a little, timeless wars. Although a new generation has moved to the rim of national power, the slate of contentious issues has not been wiped clean, the old political divisions have not evaporated, and the nastiness is not gone. That is what the alarm clock is saying.

And it is saying young Americans will continue to be ruthlessly fleeced by our corporate controlled medical establishment. After college, you will remain saddled with huge school loans. Forget about taking that fork in the road. No living an alternative life, no living on the margins of the mainstream, no taking a break to just look up at the stars. It's full-bore the corporate way! Want health insurance? Well, those expensive premiums are going higher -- much higher! Don't forget to pay your taxes. Others are paying less so your unfair burden is getting heavier.

And old Joe's big grin just got wider. If you listen closely, you can hear him laughing -- at you!

It was Joe who spearheaded through the Senate a large troop surge in Afghanistan, was in front to halt the public option in health insurance, and demanded the death of an expanded Medicare. Yes, Joe won and we lost. That's old politics -- one side wins and the other side loses. And it's the new politics. The dream is gone.

For several decades, most conservatives have believed the Right has been winning the political war but losing the cultural war. I'm not so sure. It seems to me they're winning all the wars. And still are.

The symbol of progressive America, not the reality only the short hand symbol, Baby Boomers, has been thoroughly trashed in our culture. "Baby Boomer" long ago became synonymous with self-indulgent and irresponsible and downright fruity. "Baby Boomer" is the other America, the bad America, which must be stopped. But Boomers are getting old. A new generation is rising up and now they are insisting America must change.

In having successfully discredited the Baby Boomer, the Right has of course discredited progressive politics. On the Internet, "Baby Boomer" means selfish liberal. Make money off their retirement, but trash them politically. Now, slowly, Generation-Y is being trashed. Gen-Y is beginning to mean spoiled and naive. Off the Internet, it's worse.

The battle to define symbolic words is a battle to control perception and to shape political decisions. Distort words and you control public policy. Private interests will win over the public good. This is a battle we've been losing for a long time.

Take the word "Woodstock," an event more than any event defined the Baby Boomers in our popular culture. Joe Lieberman's buddy, John McCain -- who Joe campaigned enthusiastically for in the presidential election -- just went on the Senate floor and lambasted the "Woodstock Film Festival," sneering: "In order to really do a lot more research on that great cultural moment, we're going to spend $30,000 for the Woodstock film festival youth initiative."

The Woodstock Film Festival has no connection to the Woodstock Music Festival that occurred more than four decades ago. The federal grant was to reach at risk youth in a Kingston, New York. But none of this matters to John McCain. The word is all that matters -- Woodstock! The symbol captured and distorted ... the political ground the Right controls. So out flies the word.

We spend billions of US taxpayer dollars to reach out to young Afghans and Iraqis, but when we want to spend several thousand dollars to reach out to young Americans, well that's wasteful government spending. Woodstock!

In the 18th century when leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked, "Sir, what kind of government are you forming for us?" Ben stopped, scratched his throat -- he needed a beer -- and shot back: "A Republic -- if you can keep it."

As a new generation comes of political age, I hope these Americans understand our democracy will exist as long as they can keep it. Our democracy will expand only if they fight hard for its expansion. Since Obama won the presidency, they have sustained several nasty political beatings. But the power of a president should never be overestimated, and he or she should never be completely trusted. A better president is certainly better than a lousy president but the rules of political warfare remain regardless of the president. This is important to remember.

And Boomers are asking, what now? Will this new political generation crawl under the covers or will it come out swinging? Will those who elected Obama turn their back on "we can" or will they dig in for the long battle?

There will never be suddenly a new day in America. The same fundamental political fights will remain and the same types of groups will remain locked in these fights. Joe Lieberman and his buddy John McCain hope you crawl under the covers and stay there. They hope you are crushed! Finished with wanting to change America! Yet, most Boomers, moderates and liberals, hope these beatings don't beat you. Because they know only you can keep it -- keep the fight alive for a better, more just America.