24.8.04

FOURTH TURNING ALERT. David Broder (via Betsy's Page) is anguished about the youngsters squabbling.
The only thing that will save the country -- and end this breach in its leadership -- is that the boomers are now in their sixties. Another generation will eventually come to power, and the country will finally be spared from constantly refighting these same battles.
True enough. But the kind of world that generation inherits will be one shaped by the social pathologies unleashed in the 1960s and thereafter. It is not enough to complain about the divisions, Mr Broder.
Will we ever recover from the 1960s?

What's happening with the bitter dispute over John Kerry's role in Vietnam confirms my fears that my generation may never see the day when the baby boomers who came of age in that troubled decade are reconciled sufficiently with each other to lead a united country.

I remember precisely when this premonition of perpetual division first struck me. On Aug. 19, 1992, the third night of the Republican National Convention in Houston, Barbara Bush and Marilyn Quayle were the featured speakers. The first lady praised her husband's fine qualities and Mrs. Quayle turned her fire on the Bill Clinton Democrats, who had just finished their convention in New York.

Through almost gritted teeth, Marilyn Quayle declared that those people in Madison Square Garden, who were claiming the mantle of leadership for a new generation, were usurpers. "Dan and I are members of the baby boom generation, too," she said. "We are all shaped by the times in which we live. I came of age in a time of turbulent social change. Some of it was good, such as civil rights; much of it was questionable."

And then she drew the line that has not been erased: "Remember, not everyone joined in the counterculture. Not everyone demonstrated, dropped out, took drugs, joined in the sexual revolution or dodged the draft. Not everyone concluded that American society was so bad that it had to be radically remade by social revolution. . . . The majority of my generation lived by the credo our parents taught us: We believed in God, in hard work and personal discipline, in our nation's essential goodness, and in the opportunity it promised those willing to work for it. . . . Though we knew some changes needed to be made, we did not believe in destroying America to save it."
It is time to recognize that, indeed, many of those changes were questionable. Perhaps it will be up to some future generation to say "enough." The counterculture got all the ink. The rest of us had to grow up in the world they left us. And, Mr Broder, your Silent Generation cohort is complicit -- by its acquiescence -- in the mess.

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