Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Make It New

Kate, the Ol' Broad of Ol' Broad Rambling, has re-posted a diatribe from some dude on Facebook with the provocative title of "How do We Make Conservatism Cool?" It's good question with an apparently long answer that can be reduced to just a few words: We need to get back to the '80s!

Read it for yourself if you'd like, or you can just skim through this little compendium of '80 references in the piece:
  • "the era of Reagan": You saw that one coming a mile away, I'm sure.
  • “hip to be square”: No kidding, after providing his audience with a temporal milestone, the author leads off with a Huey Lewis and the News shout out. If that's not an expression of a primal longing for '80s retro chic, then I don't know what is.
  • "The Gen X-ers who come of age during the Reagan era...": Ah, youth ... wasn't it cool?
  • "Punk": As in the music/lifestyle/culture/etc., which had its Golden Age during the '80s, but is little more than just another overly commodified music genre today (and has been for quite some time now).
  • "Alex P. Keaton": Enough said.
So, basically, conservatism will be cool exactly because it's not cool now and will eventually draw the kids to it by virtue of its "non-conformist" benefits?

Good luck with that.

I bring this up because there is an analogy to this type of nostalgia that plagued the left for decades: the curse of the aging liberal who just wanted things back like they were in the '60s. These folks were the worse -- always complaining how things were just so much better in the '60s, students were so much more active and how there was so much more at stake (and shit) because there was, like, a draft and Vietnam and Nixon and -- Jesus Christ, just thinking about these dipshits makes my head hurt.

These aging anachronisms did two things that both anchored them to the 1960s and caused the left to essentially stagnate for much of the 30 years between the mid-1970s and mid-2000s. First, the "smart" ones retreated to an echo chamber -- academia -- where their ideas mattered little to those who weren't department chairs. Second, the "activist" class never adjusted to the times. Their tactics were always geared toward the media environment of the '60s and got really old, and much less effective, over time. Instead of adjusting, however, they stubbornly stayed the course and were happy with "fighting the good fight" so long as they were able to nostalgically look back at the '60s and say to themselves "Man, those were the days!"

Conservatives have already started down that road with their selective hagiographies of Reagan and are starting to sound just as pathetic as as those aging flower children did not so long ago. Looking to the past to determine what the kids of today are looking for is folly. It's gotta be new. Conservatism in the '80s was new, but after almost thirty years of being the only game in Washington -- it's not exactly counterculture anymore.

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