Obama,  The Left

Out of the way, old farts

I’ve been neglecting the excellent blog of the Los Angeles-based writer Marc Cooper, and have therefore added him to our blogroll.

Along with us, Marc was among the “decent” Obama backers denounced by the Unrepentant Marxist himself, Louis Proyect.

Marc has been writing a column for The LA Weekly newspaper. He concluded that gig this week with some perceptive observations about Obama, the Left and generational change.

I had the treat of spending the last week of the campaign in Nevada with an entire team of young union activists deployed by the SEIU [Service Employess Internationl Union] as last-minute shock troops for the Obama campaign. Let me gleefully report to you that the overwhelming majority of this new generation of activists seems to have no organic relationship nor any real interest in the radical political formations born of the 1960s. No surprise there, I hope, fellow boomers. Back in the midst of the ’60s, I remember us being curious about those who had come before us, specifically in the ’30s, but we felt no links and little resonance. If I’m not mistaken that’s why we fancied ourselves as the New Left.

Now, there’s a New New Left out there and — thankfully — it looks, acts and thinks very little as we did. It has learned from our mistakes, fortunately. And it wants to get things done. This, of course, strikes the old-fart, left-wing blogs as being reformist, or sellouts or whatever. Actually, it’s about getting things done by meeting the population where it really is and moving it forward. Not by confronting and insulting it. [My emphasis.]

We’ve spoken a lot in the past months about how the election of Obama represents a generational changeover inside the American political system. Perhaps it’s time to see the same transition within the activist left. I had to laugh when I saw the emergence of Progressives for Obama. Its original membership list read like the Madison chapter of the AARP (though it did eventually broaden out a bit). I think it would be refreshing if all the 50-, 60- and 70-year-old progressives still hanging around and offering all their years of invaluable advice to Obama and his supporters would consider a different option: How about just getting out of the doorways and getting out of the halls, and realizing that old road is rapidly aging. The times, they are a changing. All that is solid melts into air.

I would only add that leftwing old-fartdom isn’t simply a matter of age. There are older old farts and younger old farts.