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Friday, October 28, 2016

Conservatives Long For The Sad Days Of Yesteryear

Well, I sure got that one wrong.

Four years ago, on the eve of the last presidential election, I wrote in this space of how the country has spent much of the last three decades “re-litigating” the 1960s, arguing over the changes wrought in that decade. As far as social justice is concerned, of course, the 1960s stand second only to the 1860s as the most profoundly transformative decade in American history. It was in those years that black folks came off the back of the bus, women came out of the kitchen, Hispanics came off the margins and gay people first peeked beyond the closet.

Conservatives have been trying to repeal the decade ever since, a crusade that seemed to reach its greatest clarity and lowest depth in the rush to define a certain jug-eared senator from Illinois who was, in 2008, running for president. He stood to become the first black man to hold that job. This was not an incidental thing.

For his supporters, it helped make him the embodiment of “hope” and “change,” the renewal of inchoate liberal promises that died with Robert F. Kennedy. For his detractors, it was the realization of every paranoia-drenched, racially-tinged threat to the white picket fences and Mom’s apple pie of status quo.

“You know what I hope Barack Obama is?” I wrote in 2008. “I hope he is reconciliation — the end of the 1960s at long last. And the beginning of something new.”

He wasn’t. That’s what I got wrong.

There are, after all, many words you could use to describe the period from 2008 to now. “Reconciliation” is not one of them. To the contrary, the nation has endured a four-year temper tantrum of shrillness and ferocity nearly unparalleled in history. You have to go back to the 1960s, or maybe even the 1850s, to find a time when America was this angry with itself.

  • nobsartist

    Funny, this has been going on for the same amount of time that the John Birch Society has.

    I hope we are seeing the death gasp of the JBS and the end of “conservatism” because both are just hiding behind the flag with a swastika on it.

  • latebloomingrandma

    The first decade of the 2oth century was America in full blown adolescence. In the 1960′ s after JFK was gunned down in the streets of his country like a dog, America exploded into what I call our great nervous breakdown. I agree with the astute Mr. Pitt that the Obama years were the great temper tantrum. It’s like the Congress is a collection of psuedo-sophisticated 7th graders in the school yard. -“-You may have won the contest to play ball, but we’re grabbing the ball back and we’re not playing. ” The only thing missing was the na-na-na-na- na. You know the tune. Brought to you by the rabid right wing media empire. (Who said the media is liberal?)

    If Romney wins, it shows that extortion can win and the presidency can be bought. His on the job training will be difficult to watch. We will have elected the biggest liar since Nixon.
    If Obama wins, I don’t know what will happen. Will the Republicans realize that they haven’t been able to thrown him out, so it’s time to meet him halfway, or will they continue their treasonous way?

    • 101strac

      Last night a political analyst( whose name for the moment,evades me) was asked,if romney was soundly beaten, would that mark the end of the radical teaparty within the republican party? His answer was, they are too deeply entrenched in the party, they are here to stay.
      This republican campaign was, for me, the lowest, most dishonest I’ve ever witnessed. The manipulations of the voting laws in various states in order to prevent probable Obama voters from casting their ballots. The list of unscrupulous, and I believe, illegal acts committed by these fanatics is something I believe should be looked at closely by the DOJ.
      I am told there are poll watchers at most, if not all voting places across the country, trying to assure an honest election. My God, we’re getting like a third world Country. I will be voting a straight Democratic ticket tomorrow, and for the forseeable future, until the Republican Party once again shows some semblance of sanity.

      • latebloomingrandma

        My husband and I will also be voting straight Democratic for the first time ever. We actually used to be registered Republicans for almost 40 years. We switched around the 6th year of Bush II’s term and never looked back. I understand what the Republican philosophy is, and basically live a conservative life. I don’t understand the rigidity and mean spiritedness of this new ideology of this Republican party. And the South needs to get over that they lost the Civil War 160 freaking years ago already!! America is a great country because we change and grow and integrate and include. Come on fellow straight , white, Christian people. You can do it. Open your hearts and minds and the best is yet to come. We don’t need old rich white guys running the country all the time.

        • I grew up and still live in the South, not all of us are still fighting the War between the the States, I thing if you check it out real good you will find just as much if not more racism coming from other parts of the Country. I still remember when I was 14 and went to visit relatives in Ohio, my aunt and uncle lived in a town where if you were black you could not come into the town until the sun came up and hadto to be out of town by the time the sun set or you would go to jail. I had never heard of such a thing being done like that not even in the part of the South I lived in. The town was made up was mostly people born in the the north with a few like my aunt being from the south, that is why I say racism is not only holding on in the south but the north also. My parents were born and raised in a segregated South yet they taught us to judge people on what they do and how they act not on the color of their skin. Something the 5 of us still do today. That is why I would not vote for Romney/Ryan for dog catcher or garage collector. I voted for Obama in O8 and voted for him again a week and a half ago.

          • latebloomingrandma

            Thank you for your perspective, as I have not actually lived in the South. Where I live in PA is definitely racist, so I concede that racism is all over. What do you think is the reason, however, that the south and midwest seems to be so solidly conservative “red”–more so because of cultural issues rather than race? Does the fact that our current Pres. is black just exacerbate this?

      • 1bythebrooks2

        Amen! Me too!

    • foolsdance

      @LATE – but you do know what will happen… the evil triumvirate (koch/rove/cheney) will emerge from his trojan horse and demand the return on their investment in him. Off to war we will go – padding their pockets. The rape of the planet will commence forthwith. Miners will once again have the right to die of black lung in service to their increasingly wealthy mine owners. women’s reproductive rights will be under fire. The rich will enjoy unprecedented tax cuts while the poor get poorer… the list is long and frightening.

      • latebloomingrandma

        And did Faux News cover anything about ALEC and their agenda, or were they just completely fixated on ACORN? Hmmm-I wonder why?

    • grammyjill

      Joe has been working on them. He said last night that he has several Senators and Congressmen ready to work with the President.

    • 1bythebrooks2

      As I have said before. Romney’s lies make Nixon’s look like little fibs and a walk in the park. Obama/Biden 2012!!

  • At this point I hope we see the sixties reborn. Those conservative aren’t just fighting the battles of those days again, they are going back to the nineteen twenties. Hell the eighteen nineties, they want the days of Pullman, Rockefeller, and Carnegie back. The history channel has gone so far as whitewash the horrors of those days in a redemption piece they call “The Men who Built America”, what a load. I notice they didn’t spend much time on the slave labor and child labor and the beatings and the low pay of the actual men, women, and children who built America. The truth of the new American Fascist movement is that their wildest dreams would be realized if they could kill Social Security, Banking regulations, Medicare, unions, and the hated minimum wage.

    Since the thirties, the conservative wealthy have had a strong love of fascism, look how many were fans of Mussolini and Hitler, Those mens children and grand children are the core of the inner republican party today and they follow the fascist handbook to the letter. Romney’s big lie theory is just the same as the fascist one isn’t it? The military worship, the false claims of morality, the fear and hate of foreigners and ethnicities, it is just fascism and like the countries that embraced it in those days we live in a divided nation of a few haves and a mass of have nots.

    • They really do want to start with the 1860’s and not move forward until the South and slavery wins. Federalism is the mantra in all these so called Republicans today. The Republican party (i.e. the T-Party) is nothing more than the old Southern Democratic Party. When they left in 1980 and moved in and took over the Republican Party during the Reagan years they have been marching to the right ever since. They understand that the end of the White Protestant is near as America becomes more homogeneous. They will have come here to continue their existence but by low birth rates they are falling behind due to immigration. Every issue they are against, everyone of them, is an avenue to their lessening of power and smaller population numbers. They are fearful of their future based on how they have treated those minorities who now outnumber them in the past. They are scared sh**less and long for the days when they were still in power and they know where that stopped and that was in losing the Civil War. They feel that by opposing everything progressive since that time is how they can secure their future. By fighting progress they will lose rather than win and we are being held hostage to their fears.

  • William Deutschlander

    Unfortunately your article is descriptive, exactly, of the Republican Cartel of the 21st Century!

    The Republican Cartel of the 21st Century is FOREIGN to the United States of America.

    The Republican Cartel of the 21st Century has taken the “brand name” of Lincoln and Eisenhower and completely diminished that “brand” to TRASH!

  • David_William

    Ever since Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, the rabid Right has been wanting their country back — The Confederate States of America!
    Regrettably, we have become a nation of the fearful and gullible manipulated by the cynical and corrupt.
    And all of our chickens are flying home to roost.

  • jstsyn

    This guy hits the nail on the head. Time to rid ourselves of these backward people before the country disintegrates into a mess worse than any of the recent past.

  • Tom_D44

    “A four year temper tantrum of shrillness and ferocity nearly unparalleled in history”? How quickly the left forgets the barage of ferocious attacks during the 8 year presidency of Bush – albeit some of it was deserved. But most of the day to day attacks were pure partisan politics.

    Cute article Leonard.

    • frivolous01

      The barage of ferocious attacks during Bush’s presidency?? Bush was not disrespected from day one of his presidency; Democrats did not state publically that their only job was to make sure he was a one term president; Democrats did not spend years questioning whether he was even truly American, accusing him of being anti-American, etc. Even after the very questionable victory over Gore, Democrats eventually let it go and rallied behind him after 9/11. Only to find out that the whole thing was a giant lie. Once that was discovered then yes, he was roundly criticized, and rightly so. Bush was responsible for hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian deaths and thousands of military deaths. Even the Repulicans have disavowed any knowledge of Bush, he wasn’t even invited to the RNC. Come on!

      • latebloomingrandma

        Exactly! How many ugly anti-Bush books have been written that landed on the best seller lists? The list goes on and on. there’s no comparison to the vitriol towards our current POTUS. And who goes after First Ladies? Some of things I’ve read in the blogosphere about Mrs. Obama have been really disgusting. I hope they have shielded their chidren from all this ugliness. Of course Hillary got her share also.

  • dtgraham

    There are a lot of interesting, thoughtful posts here and I enjoyed reading them. I’ve thought about this a number of times. When you look back at the 1960’s one thinks of the Kennedys, MLK, huge Democratic majorities, the great society, voting rights and civil rights. It was the zenith of American progressivism and should have continued, leaving permanent changes in American governance, culture and thought.

    1968 was the year it would all change with Nixon, Lee Atwater and the southern strategy, followed by Jerry Falwell and the rise of the Christian right a few years later. You can really trace it to that year. What if JFK had lived? Beyond that what if RFK had lived, been elected President, (he would surely have been) and been pressured by a very alive Martin Luther King on poverty, civil rights, and racial issues. Dr. King would have found a strong ally throughout the 70’s in Bobby Kennedy, who believed in and supported everything he stood for. I believe the Vietnam war either wouldn’t have happened or would have been ended quickly depending on what historical scenario you go with. The United States would’ve looked quite different today, and should have.

    These kinds of structural changes to culture and society can take a while to become permanently implanted on a nation. They never got that chance. The long shadow of FDR was still being cast on American politics culminating in a decade that gave birth to something great, but it died early leaving an orphan that couldn’t survive.

    I suppose one could conjure up historical what ifs for any nation, but America in the 1960’s was a special case in a special time. A very, very unique and special time. It’s one of the great historical tragedies.

  • grammyjill

    Romney holding a stump speach… I was looking around to see if the Beatles were here to bring out so many. Beatles? He doesn’t know John and George are dead? We can’t have that!

  • The left are the people that tell lies to keep the uninformed and misled socialistbots into believing that the conservatives are the evil doers. When in fact it is the democrats that want to oppress the blacks. They started the KKK among other originations that does more harm to every American than any plague ever could.