Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Generation & Obama

In a story yesterday posted on Politico McCain and Obama: The Odd Candidates which surveyed their different methods of campaigning, relating and interacting.

Much has been made, for example, of the different ways of functioning, reflected by not just the candidates physical age, but the age in which they came of age.

Last week it was this, as reported on Politico's blog:

Obama aide Bill Burton, a campaign source says, went downstairs in their Chicago offices just now to collect a hand-delivered copy of John McCain's invitation to Goldwater-Kennedy-style debates with Obama.

"You know, you could have just emailed this," a somewhat puzzled Burton told the middle-aged messenger.

Last night Jonathan Alter focused on another change of the how the media landscape had changed with Youtube and how John McCain didn't seem to get that as he protested to a Newsweek reporter he didn't do something he quite clearly did and it's on video:

Okay, so clearly manifestations of their difference come out in their style and perhaps even the manner they decide to campaign, but I sense there is another manifestation of age as well, that affected why Obama won - against all his other Democratic competitors who were all baby boomers with the exception of Mike Gravel.

So another aspect of the town hall discussion caught my attention from this piece, McCain and Obama: The Odd Candidates:
If McCain is more freewheeling, Obama prefers order.

At town hall events, the Illinois senator can resemble a teacher in a classroom, occasionally encouraging better manners and dispensing rules on how the question-and-answer period will go down. Questioners must not shout, he says, but raise their hand, wait for a microphone and introduce themselves. He goes boy, girl, boy, girl, “so that nobody thinks I’m biased,” Obama says.
Now, that different could be animated by personality, but I suggest something else might be at play here that animates Obama's support for those of us 45 and under.

My generation prefers order. And optimism. As children, teenagers, then as young adults we looked on in abject horror at the convulsions of our society, politics and civic life.

Whether it was "Swingtown" antics of the 70s or the selfishness of the 80s or the misbehavior of the 90s or the exploitation of division of this decade.

Or the crime of a cover up of a break in during the 70s, the crime of a selling arms to fund rebellions in the 80s or the crime of lying under oath in the 90s or the ginned up war in this decade.

We all yearned for some order and to be able to witness things getting done. To be a part of a good time in America. For us, Camelot really was always, just and forever a myth.

And I submit that this is precisely why Reagan and conservatism was so very appealing to people my age when we were young.

But it's seemed that those yearnings of mine were ceded to Republican causes. That the other party, whose values I disagreed with, owned the sense of offering order and optimism.

Obama brings that home. He's a Democrat who values order and is optimistic.

For the first time in my life, those values are unified in him and his message. I think, too, that is why his nomination feels so unreal.

To be fair, McCain is not a baby boomer, he's of the prior generation. But in those swinging days of the 70s, he obviously wished he were of that younger generation, as evidence when he discarded his first wife who recently said (in a widely link report from Britain's Daily Mail), My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that happens...it just does.

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