What Boomers Have Seen

Sitting here on the far side of 60, I find myself musing occasionally about all the events my generation witnessed in real time as they happened. Every generation compiles its own similar list over time, to be sure, but the ebb and flow of history that Boomers witnessed over time was certainly a helluva ride.

Here’s my personal variation of the list. I’d love to see yours.

  • John Kennedy assassinated
  • Beatlemania
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Civil rights movement
  • Vietnam
  • Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated
  • First human sets foot on the moon
  • Woodstock
  • Nixon resigns
  • Iran hostage crisis
  • Collapse of the Soviet Union
  • The dawn of the digital era and the internet
  • The Great Recession
  • First black U.S. president
  • The Chicago Cubs win the World Series
  • The Donald Trump regime

It hasn’t all been fun but it’s all been amazing to watch unfold. As Dr. Winston O’Boogie once said, “You should have been there.”

The Man Behind the Curtain

Here’s the guy who’s setting the agenda for the United States of America. He’s a stone cold fascist and an unrepentant white supremacist. The only appropriate response to this president (Trump or Bannon, take your pick) and this kind of regime is resistance. Period. Full stop.

(And if you need a primer on resistance in the age of Trump, here’s a great place to start.)

My Nightmare Scenario For 2017 Has Nothing To Do With Trump

I’m going out on a limb here so bear with me: My biggest worry these days is that the most serious threat we face will be something that’s not on most people’s radar right now. I believe it will be something that takes place away from the glare of the Washington spotlight, likely drowned out of your newsfeed by the ongoing cacophony of Trump tweets and the outrage du jour over Spicer’s latest misdirections and deflections.

I believe that 2017 will see unprecedented restrictions on voting rights—aimed explicitly at Democratic voting blocs—enacted on the state level. Republican majorities in one state legislature after another will enact impediments to minority voting that will dwarf in scale and scope anything we’ve seen so far in states like North Carolina.

And here’s the thing: No one in the Justice Department is going to lift a finger to stop it. The protections of the Voting Rights Act have been dismantled, relics of a different era with different values. And if this is going to be stopped, it will have to happen state by state. If it isn’t stopped now—and if I’m right about the nature of the threat—then the resulting system will probably include some sort of voting (for the right people, at least) but it will be anything but a democracy.

It CAN Happen Here

I’m not big on the concept of generational identity but my generation—the so-called Baby Boomers—has certainly been lucky (or unlucky) enough to witness a large number of newsworthy events over the years. They include:

  • The assassination of President Kennedy
  • Beatlemania and the 1960s cultural revolution
  • The Vietnam War
  • The first moon landing
  • The only presidential resignation
  • The impeachment of President Clinton
  • The Bush/Gore election fiasco
  • The 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S.
  • The election of the nation’s first black president

As we slowly vanish from the scene, however, those of us who are still alive are glimpsing perhaps the most newsworthy event of them all: The United States of America’s descent into despotism.

Upton Sinclair and Frank Zappa titles notwithstanding, it’s clear now that it can happen here. And it is happening.

A Letter to My Elected Representatives

Senator Tim Kaine
Senator Mark Warner
Representative Robert Wittman

I am writing today to urge you as strongly as I possibly can to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration later this month. The office of the presidency is being hijacked by someone without the experience or moral authority to govern in a democracy. Moreover, the legitimacy of a Trump presidency is questionable, at best, considering the totality of the circumstances surrounding it.

Normally, of course, it is desirable for opponents to close ranks after an election and then work together for the common good to the extent that it’s possible to do so. This election held in 2016, however, was anything but a normal election. As Democrats consider which responses to a Trump presidency are appropriate, it’s critically important that they do not for victim to their own best instincts. If the Democratic Party and its leaders have any hope of being effective in protecting the country over the next four years, they must appraise the threat and react to it as it actually exists, not as they were taught to behave in the theoretical confines of a Civics class.

For a variety of reasons, a Trump presidency is inherently illegitimate. If Democratic leaders like you want to respond to it in a way that’s consistent with their responsibilities to the country and their constituents, then they must not confer on Donald Trump a legitimacy that he has not earned. Failing to boycott the inauguration would legitimize and normalize the presidency of the most dangerous, least qualified president-elect that the country has ever seen.

It’s also important to note that during the entire term of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Republican Party did all it could to delegitimize a president for whom there was no rational reason to do so. Eight years ago, rather than graciously accepting their loss after the devastation of the Bush presidency, Mitch McConnell and his colleagues plotted to obstruct and undermine Obama’s term in office. Following that, there was a series of slights and roadblocks that were literally unprecedented in the history of the country. (Perhaps you remember John Boehner denying the House chamber to Obama for a State of the Union address?) I mention this not to suggest that Democrats sink to the level of McConnell and Boehner but rather to point out what should be obvious: The Democrats can never prevail if they continue their failure to respond proportionately to their opponents’ tactics.

The bottom line for me is that this is not normal. You do not do the country or your constituents a service if you pretend that it is. Again, I urge you as forcefully as I can to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration. The GOP will howl, of course, but I am quite certain that history will respect and embrace those courageous politicians who take a stand in the face of this abomination.

The Desperation of the Democratic Party

Greenwald’s recent interview with Amy Goodman is well worth your time and attention: “It has become exceptionally important to Democratic partisans to believe that the reason they lost this election is not because they chose a candidate who was corrupt and who was extremely disliked and who symbolized all of the worst failings of the Democratic Party. It’s extremely important to them not to face what is really a systemic collapse on the part of the Democratic Party as a political force in the United States, in the House, in the Senate, in state houses and governorships all over the country. And so, in order not to face any of that and have to confront their own failings, they instead want to focus everything on Vladimir Putin and Russia and insist that the reason they lost was because this big, bad dictator interfered in the election.”

I guess no one should be surprised at the time and attention Clinton supporters are devoting to justifying themselves after November’s debacle but the result of nominating Clinton speaks for itself. Of course, there’s no way to prove a counterfactual, i.e. that Sanders would have beaten Trump if he’d gotten the nomination, but it’s important to note the obvious: Clinton lost in precisely the way that Sanders supporters predicted she would. Given that Sanders’ supporters provided a far more accurate analysis of the electoral landscape in 2016 than Clinton’s supporters did, it seems clear to me whose advice the Democratic Party ought to be heeding in 2017… and whose advice it ought to ignore.

“Democrats would be smart to embrace Keith Ellison as DNC chair.”

Matthew Yglesias over at Vox offers his analysis of the contest for Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee and I think he gets it exactly right. Keith Ellison’s candidacy for this post is simply too important an opportunity for the Democratic Party to miss. The entire piece is worth reading but the nut graf is here:

Signaling to supporters of Bernie Sanders that they have an ownership stake in the party while reassuring the party’s core African-American supporters that they aren’t being ditched in the post-Obama era is solid step toward unity.