Eugene McCarthy died yesterday. RIP.
Isn't this a terrific pic?
I'm too young to recall the '68 campaign, but I do remember my parents speaking very respectfully of McCarthy. In the same tones, Adlai Stevenson's name was often mentioned. I distinctly remember (I couldn't have been more than 7 or 8) wacthing my mom take a bath while she told me about hearing Stevenson deliver a speech on the radio that changed her life. She not only admired what he said, she admired his intelligence, sophistication, his calmness. An uneducated little housewife from Detroit... My whole family (aunts uncles cousins) campaigned vigorously for McGovern in '72. What ever happened to the working class liberal? Do they still exist?
[If you ever want to get a fresh and hilarious perspective of the impact of that campaign year and its aftermath in '72 I highly recommend Hunter S Thomson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail of '72.]
This morning Meet the Press aired a segment in which McCarthy addressed the youth vote-- thier coming into political consciousness and the impact it was having on mainstream structures of power. I was struck by the _lack_ of an equivalent consciousness in our own times. I'm sure the absence of the draft has a lot to do with this, and the intervening cyncism of the last 25 years or so, but it is still disheartening to note. I don't want a "return" to the 60's, I want a debate or a coherent and persuasive (extended) discussion that could influence the average American mindset. That doesn't seem to be happening anywhere. Trying to discuss the war in my classroom was like trying to move a hibernating bear. Students are (for the most part) ignorant and anesthetized. That denial of the present is striking when one compares it to the level of awareness during Vietnam, I think. Interestingly, in the MTP segment, McCarthy comments on 1968 as a turning point in terms of the politicization of the young. It was a year with global dimensions of awareness that doesn't just come down to retrospective wishful thinking. I find that extremely interesting.
I have to go read about affect now.