Us Boomers are getting older by the day and one might presume to think that with our approaching golden age comes a lifetime of experiences that we have cultivated into a compendium of wisdom we can pass on to others. Maybe.. maybe not. But we certainly have been witness to many of the tumultuous periods of the last 50 years and from that likely our own opinions on life and politics have probably been an evolutionary process. We look at the current election, poltical events in general, and our country on the world stage, with a different eye than the young. It’s a kind of reserved optimism fed by a little idealism, tainted with a dash of cynicism… and sweetened by old fashioned patriotism. “Another election… been there, done that… same old ideas and false promises, just the faces have changed. Where’s George Washington or Honest Abe when you need them?”
There’s no question that during those Days Of Rage and the Viet Nam War that we all felt varying levels of social pressures and change.. and I vivdly recall the politicans of our past trying to cater to the young at the time, even when the young were not quite 21 years old and ready to vote (that was changed down the line by Nixon). But the young sure had the attention of the TV cameras on our college campuses. George McGovern comes to mind.. and Hubert Humphrey trying to be “hip”. George Wallace (popular for many other reasons as well), Eldridge Cleaver.. comedian Pat Paulsen, and a pig named Pegasus. If you are a Boomer you likely recall those names vividly as candidates (serious or not) for the 1968 presidential bid.
I suppose for the most part we all begin life copying the poltical beliefs of our parents. I was raised in a middl-middle class family in a predominantly all-white area of Chicago and I went to all white public schools (odd how we add into descriptions of our past the racial mix of the areas in which we were raised). My folks were not staunch republicans but it was their voting tendency. Not sure why dad fell into that mix given his urban/rural past kinda fit the democratic profile.
Mother, on the other hand, was raised in a family of middle class small business owners. Both of them reflected the coomon feeling of the day that you disliked the Truman administration and you “Liked Ike”. Mind you, dad and mom didn’t go about proclaiming their dislike for one politician over the other (ala “That lying SOB!”) although I heard graphic renumerations from other extended family members from time to time. But I did more or less adopt the idea of it’s-my-country, love-it-or-leave-it attitude. I hated the college demontrations, riots, and social discontent and I truly did not like hippies.
Yeah.. hippies. They were the social icon and reasons for all our social ills. Those pot-smokin’, free lovin’, commune-hopping, paisley flower-wearing, guitar-twanging, flag-burnin’, peaceniks were a threat to all mankind. Well, that’s what I thought at the time. In fact, kids being kids as we were in those days, my little clique of socially opinionated “republican” teenage buddies grooved on the dream that since all the acid-tripping hippies of the world were in one spot at Woodstock that someone should just nuke ’em all. Radical? Yep. Reflective of common sense? Nope; we were young teenagers. Reflective of the mood of the nation at the time? Most certainly.
While a student at a small junior college in downstate Illinois I recall the anti-war movement strong on that small campus as well. The resident hippies would occassionally camp out under the campus flag pole and their anti-war rhetoric mixed with the popular music of the day coming from their loud amplifiers could be heard for blocks. A few of us, donning American flag patches slapped on our shirt sleeves, would hang around making sure these clowns would not be tearing down “our” flag and burning it. Crazy times by today’s standards, but real enough when you lived through them. All this had an influence on my own political thoughts of a perfect world. If the government felt a war was necessary in Viet Nam then by-golly, let’s stand behind the president. Uh, huh. Those were wild days to be sure. (oddly, even to this day.. in spite of having a far more mature attitude and more conservative reactions, presumably… I still feel the old twinge when I meet a fellow Boomer who admits to having been a hippie).
In the years that followed I owned and managed a couple small businesses, retail and service respectively. My political thoughts took on new variations given now I was a contributing part of the economy and my existance and survival was part of whatever governmental controls were in place to regulate commerce or whatever industry I was in at the time. Still republican in my voting tendencies I nonetheless did cross-vote at times… voting for a democratic candidate on a national level but republican on a local level, or vice versa, depending on the person and their ideas that fell into what was important to me at the time. It was during this period that I became what I prefer to describe myself as… a liberal conservative. In essence I concede that there are certain social needs (programs) that the government needs to fund to maintain a social equilibrium, but by and large I prefer government to be regulatory rather participitory where needed regarding industry and the public good. I also believe in some level of allowing the free market to correct itself… which can mean at times painful adjustments (fluctuating inflation, deflation, etc.) but in the end makes us stronger. I also believe that our country is just one in a huge world economy and that the time is gone regarding thoughts of political or market isolationism. We need to get along.
So.. my current views of the world are a far cry from standing around that campus flagpole just waiting for the next hippie to give a bad eye to the flag. I am way beyond that.. and as a nation we are way beyond all that. So if it seems I am not overly jumping for joy at the candidate prospects for the current election or jumping on some candidate’s bandwagon based on their great ideas for change… I’m skeptical what any of them can do. I do know what the current President has done, and likely will do if re-elected to another term. But like I said in another post… if any prez don’t have Congress don’t be surprised if he can’t do what he promised. We only have ourselves to blame for that one.
So, how have you evolved poltically?