THE DECADE IS STILL WITH US: LOOK TO THE FUTURE, NOT THE PAST;
AS 2010 BIDS ADIEU, OUR CHALLENGE IS LIES AHEAD NOT BEHIND
Forget The End Of A Decade Hype, What Should Progressives Do Now?
By Danny Schechter
News Dissector, Author of Crime Of Our Time
Lets drop all the decade hype. I know we tend to structure history in ten year swallows: The 60's, the 70, the 80's etc. It is all so neat and so clean but, alas, not quite true.
The decade that began with the new millennium, doesn't really end unto the end of 2010, and that's not this year, even though we may want it too.
History doesn't self-package itself to fit a Greatest Hits song compilation. The 1950's with its anti-communist craziness and nuclear arms race started after the war, in the l940's and didn't end until Eisenhower's famous warning about the military industrial complex which is still with us all these years later. It was Ike who legitimated tricky Dick Nixon whose ride was just beginning. Tricky was devious but also an environmentalist and smarter than we gave him credit for.
The 60's as an era of drugs, sex and rock and roll didn't get going until mid decade as the Vietnam War's impact drove a whole generation into opposition. The 60's stayed with us, sparked by FM rock radio, until Nixon imploded and the war ended in l975.
Soon punk and disco brought on the Me generation and led us to Jimmy Carter's "malaise" and then to the rise of Ronny Raygun. When the left splintered, the right organized, putting in place a network of think tanks to take over. The conservatives drove the 80's until Clinton's centrism snuffed the spirit of the sixties in a 90's even as it appeared to be embracing it. It's the Economy Stupid led to deregulation and the crisis we are now coping with.
That led us to the neo-con emergence, and the stolen election of 2000, stolen by aggressive GOP tactics and Democratic incompetence.. With the help of various turncoats and oppositional media assets--like Fox and talk radio--they reenergized their movement by adopting 60's tactics while waging a culture war against 60's values.
Al Gore, now seen as an agent of climate change, blew that election and in the process blew up the power and personage of a political chameleon/wannabe messiah named Joseph Lieberman, a civil right activists turned sleazy opportunist and health care reform killer. He's still with us, like gum on a shoe, more obnoxious to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Pary than ever, as a new year begins.
Barack Obama's election seemed an anomaly, but clearly it was disgust with his predecessor that drove him from obscurity to the presidency. Obama's "outside-inside" strategy inspired millions of new voters. He organized, rallied new voters, used social networks and invoked change orieted slogans with more symbolism than substance.
But once in Office, the office took over, co-opting his populist inclinations and burying his grass roots movement in a miasma of paralyzing pragmatic centrism rationalized as the "politics of the possible.' Supporters became recipients of emails, not potential activists to lobby for his agenda. He allowed his "Army" to dissipate while he moved into using the Oval Office as a bully pulpit. His followers were demobilized as he gave speech after speech.
Obama realized that the Bush era had not ended in the bureaucracies or in the media and halls of Congress. To undercut its lingering impact, he moved right possibly to later move left. He embraced some of Bush's tough-guy national security boilerplate. He got along with Pentagon power by going along. Compromise began to become his mantra. Miniscule reforms were presented as great victories. Withdrawal from Iraq was delayed as was the closing of GITMO. He seemed to be on a short leash as the real power brokers checked and check mated initiatives.