Andrew Sullivan’s brain seems to have turned still more completely into mush, as he quotes approvingly this message from a younger reader on the Left.
Your old farts really do miss the point completely, don’t they? These younger people were convinced that political involvement was useless because the system was so broken. They came of age anywhere from the second Clinton term (Lewinsky) through the disaster of the Bush years. They have no reason to believe that politics can work, or that it is possible to effect any large scale change, so they work locally or just opt out.
This is what Obama has tapped into. The reason all those thousands of young Dems registered for the first time and voted in a primary was because he made them believe honorable politics was possible. And if someone like Obama gets chewed up by the system because the forces arrayed against him are too strong — just look at the sworn enemies who are teaming up to bring him down, united by nothing more than a vested interest in the status quo — then they will conclude that the system is as broken as they thought it was.
The mistake is reading this as an Obama personality cult, in which case “grow up” would be appropriate. But the Obamaniacs I meet are nothing like that…
they don’t sing his praises, they sing their own. They are intoxicated by the idea of a politics where things they thought were not possible become possible, and people talk to each other like adults. They don’t think he’s going to fix things, they think they are.
What the old farts might want to consider is that these young people who have no particular vested interest in the current system might be seeing the rot much more clearly than the fogeys who have been entangled in it for decades. And the mature folk might want to accept that the burden of proof is on them to show why such a viscerally disgusting political game is worth playing.
Opting out of that is not immaturity, it’s intelligence.
Let’s see. These kiddies figured that if they registered to vote and campaigned for a leftist candidate, the Archangel Gabriel would show up and blow his horn, human nature would totally and completely change, the two party system and all opposition to immediate Socialism would vanish, and they would be able to do exactly as they pleased. After all, they deserve nothing less, being finer and better people and more sensitive and intelligent human beings than any other group of people or any generation which has ever lived. And if they don’t get the total and complete political gratification they are entitled to (on the basis of their youth and overall marvelousness) in this their first election, well! that will certainly prove that the American system is fatally broken and irredeemably corrupt, and they should simply opt out.
I certainly agree with the last part, as I don’t think young people so unsophisticated and self-infatuated have much of anything useful to contribute to the American political dialogue anyway.