The Millennial Left and the Old Left

As we geezers are coming to find out, there is a new force in politics, the people who are trying to shape the future that they will live in after we are ‘gone.’

From Wikipedia:

Generation Y (sometimes referred to as “the Millennials” or “Echo Boomers”) refers to a specific cohort of individuals born, roughly, between 1980-94.

Generation Y are primarily children of the Baby boomers and Generation Jones (US only), though some are children of older Gen X adults…..

A central characteristic of what defines Generation Y is that they have no memory of the Cold War….

If the years 1981-2000 are used, as is common in market research, then the size of Millennials in the United States is approximately 76 million.

Who are these people? What do they want? And why don’t they realize that fighting the ideological battles of the past is more important than creating the future???

And most importantly, how can we help them to not have to reinvent the wheelPhotobucket

as they flex their newfound political power?

Warning: Gross simplifications to follow!

If you don’t remember the Cold War, you don’t have a true grounding in the ideological battles of today. The Left were Communists and The Right were Real Americans. “My country right or wrong” Americans. (Of course this ideological brouhaha all goes back much further as well, but that doesn’t matter, because I wasn’t born yet!) The Old Left have been portrayed as “outsiders” since the days of McCarthyism. That is when being a “lefty” could get you in real trouble, and that is when the Left started pretending they weren’t really the Left.  That is when the Right started to intimidate and bully the left into the continual defensive position they are in now. The incredibly real existential threat of 10,000 Soviet and Chinese Communist warheads pointed at us, punctuated by the Cuban Missile crisis, was all the leverage the Right needed to cast aspersions on the Left of being not just unpatriotic, but of actually collaborating with the “Godless Commies” who were trying to nuke us into oblivion. The Right were the Real Americans, the Left were suspect, and thus forced to defend.

This had nothing to do with the hippies, per se, btw. This was before Vietnam. The ‘chaos’ of the Vietnam protests …and the Civil Rights protest that burned down cities after MLK was gunned down by an ideological rightist… merely drove the wedge deeper.

And here we are, where the politicians of The Left are trapped by that same old meme of anti-patriotism and being “soft on defense” to the point of not being “able” (in their mind) of challenging effectively, let alone impeaching, the culmination of that “Real American” mindset, the criminal conspiracy of the Bush Administration.

Do the Millennials know about all of this? Do they know what perfidious sons of bitches they are up against? Yes they do. Maybe not the history, but since they can see fr themselves that culmination, they are NOT the naifs it is tempting to paint them as. If you’re old.

They know well enough what they are facing today. And they are choosing a new way of fighting the battle, of defeating the meme. Much to the chagrin of the Old Left, they are building a New Left. A more centrist, less ideological Left. A Left that can not only win elections but that, they hope, can win the hearts and minds of America and end the Culture Wars that way. “They” have a luxury “we” never did…the Right has effectively destroyed itself by gaining full power and revealing what the bankrupt philosophy it is built on does when it is given free rein.

At this juncture there are two choices for the Left. To try to destroy the Right finally and completely by, for example, impeaching Bushco. Or to, in effect, ignore it as it flops around like the dead fish that it is. While they build a new future that is NOT based on ideological differences…that they have no real attachment to. To win by governing well. While giving The Vast Middle no real reason to object or reject them. To show that The New Left….works.

Will it work?

It looks like we are about to find out. It may frustrate the hell out of us Old Leftists. Especially when we DO finally have a chance to pounce upon and destroy The Right. The danger is that “they” might become too centrist.

Perhaps they need some good Old Lefties to help keep them from falling into that trap? If so…it will be up to US to find out how we can help them. Right or wrong, with the state of the world, politics, and the destruction wreaked by the Culture Wars, I can certainly see why from their perspective they won’t be knocking down OUR door for advice. How can we help them build a new world?  


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  1. But since we have no real choice at this point,


    what is the best path for the Old Left?

    • brobin on July 7, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    telling them that they are wrong, but instead helping them to understand why we feel the way we do, calmly and without arguement (good luck with THAT one, you subvertive bunch of OLD lefties!)


    We can guide but we cannot squeeze them.  I have three children born in the years quoted above as Gen Y, and I assure you, I know of what I speak to here.

  2. … Generation Y is going to face some of the most terrible choices we’ve seen in our lifetime, global warming being only one of them.

    I think the hardships coming down the pike will define this generation in ways we can’t imagine.

    To me, the job of the elders is to continue to transmit the important generational information that, whether we realize it or not, was passed down to us.  That includes matters of the spirit as well as common sense information.

    They’re going to need everything we have, imo.

    • robodd on July 7, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    to explore progressive ideas without being categorized and branded as “red” or “pink.”  

    Unfortunately, they are being taught the opposite with statements such as “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”  

    Principles are not the enemy of the good.

    The right and the just is not the enemy of the good.

    And progressivism is a coherent set of principles that seek to assure the maximum of freedom and the protection of the vast majority of citizens.

  3. Are you saying we’re old and out of touch?  And will tomorrow’s essay address how fat and bald we’ve become?

    I grew up during the Vietnam draft era (but missed being drafted by about 2 years) which certainly affected me a lot.  And the Watergate episode affected me a lot too.  I’m sure these things seem like ancient history to the Millenials, just as stories about the Great Depression seemed like ancient history to me when I was young (and was thin and had hair).

    I’m not opposed to a centrist New Left if it can win elections, because it provides a defense against the right on things like judges and war policy.  As an offense it likely will be disappointing.  But I’ve grown used to disappointment.  


    • Edger on July 7, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Maybe Meteriot can help clue us geezers in?

  4. Maybe a realization will come that spending all our resources on wars and occupations and trying to keep the empire going – all to prop up fossil fuels and the easy life  oil has given us to the detriment of focus on combatting global warming and destruction of all living species, much less making us the most hated people on the planet- is not the way to go.

    Also in the age of computers, the internet, cell phones and ipods and ever-quicker communications, maybe the importance of privacy for those communications will sink in.

  5. They’re the first kids who are entirely comfortable in computer technology.  They’re the ones who are driving things like the growth of Youtube and Facebook and blogs.  They’re the ones who are building vast “social networks” we should admire.  They haven’t been drafted or threatened with a draft.  They have gone to college in huge numbers.  They are aware of how things run and who runs them.  They are connected to each other in ways other generations have not been.  And they’re aware of how important the future is.  They’re not at all like boomers imo.

    If their present “Left” is to the right of me, that’s just fine with me.  When you objectively weigh what boomers like me have accomplished (gross generalization here, I know), you can see why they might ask us for our stories but not for our opinions.  They will ask us for our help just as my 3 Gen Y kids ask me for money.  When they need it.  When it will help.  When they cannot do it on their own.

    Our parents (gross generalization here again) were jerks for fighting us.  We can make things much better just by telling Gen Y that we support them, that we’re not trying to take over their movement or re-direct it, and that we can squabble about what’s next after they get their candidate elected, which we’ll help them with.  After all, nobody, and I mean nobody wants a continuation by McSame.

  6. its in my drafts, i havent gotten back to it…

    but it involves a local mall, which wants to ban kids under 18 on friday and saturday evenings…and about the 14-year-old kid who is trying to protest it.  by boycotting!!?!!  and so, thing 2 is all “um, S***, they dont WANT us there….so, um, NOT going there is, um, like, just giving them what they want”…and he’s all “we have to do something, should we riot?”…and she’s all “um, no”, and then i’m all “he goes from zero to riot that fast?  dude (yes, i call my kids ‘dude’), you are NOT allowed to date S***”, and then she’s all “but ma-ah-ahm”…and “but, like, he’s ho-o-o-o-o-t”….

    so, um, yeah, they totally are going to need some guidance

    (i’m evil….i suggested that they hang out outside the doors of the mall and ask random adults to sneak them in….i think that’s the most effective protest.  beyond that, i told them that if they had enough kids, i would get them in as their ‘designated adult’, and then we would travel the mall and go to EVERY store in a straight line and holding hands the entire time…..THAT would be a totally righteous protest, no?)

    • kj on July 8, 2008 at 5:12 am

    my brain fired its last spark before it found this essay.  i know in internet terms “tomorrow” translates into ancient history, but i plan to print this out and read tomorrow at work.  

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