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Monday, April 27, 2009

To be Liberal and Proud in America

There's a new freedom in America. Self-identifying liberals are feeling, well, liberated. We see in the national discourse a revival of the once-proud nomenclature of liberal, liberality, and liberalism. What is amazing to me is how quickly it has happened. Not long ago, a handful of months back, in fact, to call someone liberal was to poison the political well of opinion about that person's views. If that person was a politician, fuh-geta-boudit. Their career was over if you could make the tag stick. And so it was for almost two decades.

Echos of JFK's nomination acceptance speech to the Liberal Party in New York in 1960 have seemed quaint--until lately. Consider Kennedy's words then:

"...if by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'"

Although many liberals made their way through what were the dark times for their breed by swapping the L-word for the P-word (progressive), some are now reclaiming the mantle of Roosevelt.

The Internet is the battering ram with which American liberalism has made its surprise, sudden comeback.

Today, Paul Krugman's (pictured above) New York Times blog called "Conscience of a Liberal," seems to be earning the title the author lays claim to. At the same time, Ariana Huffington's Huffington Post is the clearing house of new liberal media. Then there's the person who has made the most of the Internet's potential in a single victory: Barak Obama.

We'll see how long this lasts. As baby boomers age and, pardon my crassness, begin to die off, the likelihood of a continuity of this trend becomes greater. While that generation had its moment of being liberal-ish, they have clearly become more conservative on many, if not most, issues. Their younger siblings, Generation X and their children, the Millennials, are far more progressive. Scratch that. We're far more LIBERAL!


Sepora said...

Interesting blog and post, but your generational discussion is missing an important part of the equation: Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term.

It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. Many experts now believe it breaks down this way:

DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
Generation Jones: 1954-1965
Generation X: 1966-1978

Here is a recent op-ed about GenJones as the new generation of leadership in USA TODAY:

LA Journalist said...

Thank you! I am supremely interested in America's generational populations. You have given me a great gem of information, which I will definitely research. I feel foolish for not knowing about Generation Jones. It so reconciles the holes in my overall theories about the monolithic boomers. I plan a major undertaking regarding the generations from the Baby Boomers through the Millennials in the not-to-distant future (probably a book) Thanks again.

Old Hermit Dave said...

Although we still have much to learn about herding cats, it is always nice to watch the country begin to move from the radical conservative right. As a extreme liberal atheist I will continue use the www to promote the liberal cause.