A golden jubilee is by definition the celebration of a fiftieth anniversary.
Fifty years have passed since a watershed year in our history: 1969. Yet many of us, I suspect, will find little gold or jubilee in this anniversary.
Yes, 1969 was the year America put a man on the moon. That feat deserves a raised glass.
But 1969 was also a year of change and chaos, ushering in cultural shocks that reverberate today. 250,000 protesters marched against the Vietnam War in Washington D.C. That summer, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan, and the patrons and sympathizers rioted in response, launching the gay rights movement. At Woodstock, N.Y., 350,000 music fans gathered for a rock concert that turned into a debacle of rain, mud, trash, sex, and drugs. Senator Edward Kennedy drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island and left Mary Jo Kopechne to die in the car. The first troop withdrawals from Vietnam commenced, an early sign of America’s failure to win that decade-long war.
Most importantly in terms of landmark events, 1969 marks the end of the beginning of the “long march through the institutions,” a philosophy advocated by the Left to take control of schools, churches, the media, and the culture in general, thereby instituting radical change without bloody revolution. Influenced by the writings of Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, German radical and student leader Rudi Dutschke coined the term “the long march” in the late 1960s. Dutschke helped spark the 1968 student protests in Europe, riots that in turn inspired student unrest the following year in the United States.
Now, after a half-century, the children of 1969, and their children, have completed that long march. In the election of 2016, for example, a vast majority of journalists in the mainstream media—most online sources put the figure at 90% or more—supported the Clinton campaign. In October, 2018, the Media Research Center found that the media’s reporting on President Trump was 92% negative for his first eighteen months in office. The Washington Times reports that the number of liberal professors versus conservatives in our universities is 12 to 1. Hollywood has become such a bastion of progressivism that one actor, who spoke anonymously for fear of professional repercussions, said “In thirty years of show business, I’ve never seen it like this. If you are even lukewarm toward Republicans, you are excommunicated from the church of tolerance.”
This drumming out of moderates from the Party has pushed the Democrats far to the Left. The days when Democrats like Joe Lieberman, Tip O’Neill, Richard Lamm, and Patrick Moynihan held office are long gone. Patrick Moynihan, for example, once supported a ban on partial birth abortion because “I think this is just too close to infanticide. A child has been born and it has exited the uterus. What on earth is this procedure?” This year Democratic Governor Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act, which will ostensibly allow abortions until just before birth. Democrat Joe Lieberman won his 1988 senate race with help from some prominent Republicans and was a key player in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security Act. This year newly elected Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for open borders and describes herself as a “democratic socialist.” Many of her contemporaries have also declared themselves socialists, though if pressed most of them seem unable to define the word.
Those radicals of the 1960s seem to have won the game.
Or have they?
Here’s a question for these would-be socialists: How much longer will ordinary citizens follow these leaders, many of them wealthy and removed from the American mainstream, who claim to know what is best for their inferiors? How much longer will voters support politicians who seem unconcerned about the problems of their constituents and whose agenda often seems dangerous, or crazy, or both?
For half-a-century American pride and patriotism have suffered the death of a thousand cuts. But here’s a prediction:
That era is coming to a close. Its rollback began in 2016. Given the current antics on Capitol Hill, in our universities, and in the press, the demise of progressivism will continue.
Now there’s a reason to celebrate.
[Image Credit: Ric Manning, Wikimedia, CC BY 3.0]
Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.