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Dog Whistle 2008: "Generational"

Rangoon78's picture

Dog Whistle 2008: "Generational"

Born in1 946, I am among the first baby boomers and I have dutifully checked the "white" or "Caucasian" box in official questionnaires. Due to this background, I know i was not alone in being marginalized and labeled as an obvious racist for my outspoken support of Hillary in 2008. All of my attempts to raise issues with candidate Obama fell on deaf ears to many including, sadly, my sweet and kind hearted daughter.

Until now, the overpowering feeling was one of anger. Yet now I am coming to see the pitiful plight of those who believed the worst of people like me. I see that the full force of this false narrative that was heaped upon young Americans to secure the continuity of the imperial presidency was too much for millions to resist:

CBS News 2007:

"Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more -- and it is time for our generation to answer that call," declared Barack Obama, uttering the word "generation" no fewer than thirteen times in his speech announcing his intention to run for president. There is no mistaking his campaign theme: it's time for the old to move over and make way for the new.

Obama's book The Audacity of Hope makes it clear just whom he's calling old: "In the back-and-forth between Clinton and Gingrich, and in the elections of 2000 and 2004, I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation -- a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago -- played out on the national stage," writes Obama. It's a theme he's returned to with increasing frequency lately. "There's no doubt that we represent the kind of change Senator Clinton can't deliver on. And part of it's generational," Obama told Fox News in early November. "Senator Clinton and others have been fighting some of the same fights since the '60s. It makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done."

(H/T Libbyliberal)
Paul Harris: Portrait of Our President:


Among Martin Luther King’s most famous words are his hopes that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

That dream of King’s was what many believed Obama would one day fulfill. Perhaps he has, just not in the way anyone thought. In 2013 – amid drones, assassinations, mass spying, secret courts and tapping journalists’ phones – it seems that Obama’s race matters less and less, while his inner character is shining through for judgment. It is sorely wanting."

NPR 2008:

…If you voted in one of the Democratic primaries or caucuses, your age probably determined your vote: The older you are, the more likely you were to vote for Clinton, and the younger you are, the more likely you were to vote for Obama.

Part of this divide is easily explained, since Obama is younger, 46, and Clinton is 60. But, Obama has a particular appeal to young people such as Zahir Rahman, a sophomore at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Identifying with Obama

"He's hip to our culture and seems to know where younger people are coming from," Rahman says. Then he explains Obama's appeal as "someone who's new, offers this idea of hope, of change, which really isn't attributed to either party or any of the other candidates who are running."

But that's not the only reason young people vote for Obama, says Cliff Zukin, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. Unlike their baby boomer parents, voters under 30 are incredibly tolerant.

Activist filmmaker Michael Moore levied a heavy charge at older Americans who didn’t vote for President Barack Obama in 2008: They’re racist.

Moore made his comments Thursday during a forum hosted by PBS host Tavis Smiley and Princeton University Professor Cornel West.

“…and that’s younger people — because they’re not as racist as the previous generations,” Moore said to applause and laughter…

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nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

The young Obama campaign workers that I encountered in 2008 just dripped condescension towards the long-time (therefore older) party loyalists. They did smarmy coy about all the middle-aged and older people being racists -- "it's just how they grew up", apparently totally unaware that they were talking to rooms full of people who had participated actively in the civil rights movement at a time when that was not all that easy or comfortable to do. They explained that they would be running the campaign because the long-time activists didn't understand the new way to do it. And they were just incredibly self-righteous about being enthusiastic in the campaign, as opposed to those who had worked in every campaign for years and were somewhat more matter-of-fact about it. They told us that we just didn't understand how important politics are. As a reluctant supporter of Clinton towards the end of the campaign, I was of course a racist.

At that time I still thought that the legacy party might be turned around. I assumed that with some experience, the young people might become an asset for liberalism. I suppose they were an asset in that their destructive approach helped the decline of the legacy party.

Submitted by lambert on

... on what your daughter feels now.

* * *

The campaign workers were trained to use those points, and probably believed them. Isn't there something in the Bible about millstones?

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

correct that to some extent this is a "generational" attitude.

I am constantly completely "blown away" by the contempt that many young people demonstrate toward "Boomers." When I see it, I attempt to explain that the "average Boomer" had nothing to say about economic or foreign policy (in the past, just like in the present).

The Elites of Both Parties have completely ignored the American populace for decades (as I can see, anyway).

But this often falls on deaf ears.

It is very discouraging.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Thanks for the excellent post. [Hey, I feel much better now--I'm a 'whipper snapper' in comparison (just teasing, OK?).]

Seriously, not knowing anything about your background (meaning are you a native-born Southerner, Easterner, West Coaster, etc.), may I just offer an observation. Because I am simpatico with your concerns, and the "unfairness" of the accusation.

IMO, anyone showing the kind of contempt that you describe is not even worth worrying about. It is clearly a reflection of their ignorance--and no more.

I'm hoping to get to drop back by later today and expound a bit on my attitude. As background, I was born in some of the (today) "reddest of the red" part of the US, but have traveled fairly extensively, and lived in all quadrants (and the mid-west) of the US except for the most southwestern quadrant. I have also lived and studied in Latin America for years, as well as outside of the Continental US for many years--in Alaska.

However, with the exception of perhaps a couple of years AFTER I lived in Latin America and Alaska (when my native Southern accent was greatly diminished), I have "lived with discrimination," based on no more than "an accent." [And this is not just limited to the "racist" charge. It often includes "the stupid redneck Southerner meme."]

So I'm not trying in any way to diminish your concerns. I'm simply trying to say that from personal experience, I've learned that it is difficult, if not impossible to change the attitudes of many folks who show their ignorance by "labeling" others with whom they disagree.

I hope that you don't take offense from my frank observations. I'd like to take this (later) as a segue into discussing a topic that seems to be misunderstood by some liberals regarding Southern conservatives--they are NOT all "Bible Thumpers" or racists. Although there are more than enough of them, LOL!

[Which is not to say that many of their views are not toxic. Most are--which is why I can no longer vote for a "conservative Democrat." Unfortunately, I have off and on over the years, and perhaps unwittingly, have contributed to the extreme "rightward swing" of the Democratic Party.]

Regarding "nihil obstet's" comment above:

I suppose they were an asset in that their destructive approach helped the decline of the legacy party.

I occasionally (but with some regularity) check out polls at Real Clear Politics.

The CNN poll from yesterday is a very bad omen for the Democratic Party. IMO (especially for 2014). The fact that Ed Markey is struggling so much in Massachusetts, says a lot.

And, it's beginning to look like 2016 would be a very good year for "third party" candidates (or as I believe DCblogger says, "emerging parties"--not sure if that's exactly her term).

I see a HUGE number of "Rand Paul" stickers (same was true for Ron Paul) at our University--approximately 15,000 students. I have a feeling that the "Snowden-Debacle" will play tremendously to the "right's advantage"--especially for a young crowd, who spends so much time using electronic media.

The CNN Poll showed a double-digit drop among 18-29 years old (or thereabout, age wise).

The numbers on a Syrian War (under the direction of Dems this time--no one will be able to deflect blame unto Republicans), the spying on Americans, the beginning of the dismantling of the Social Safety net, and on and on, tell me that maybe for the very first time, there could be a chance for an actual candidate "from the left" (and I don't mean a corporatist who supports one or two liberal social issues).

I remain hopeful. ;-)

{Please excuse typos, syntax, etc. In bad environment for blogging.]

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Daughter has retreated to her former apolitical stance will not talk about politics. Whenever the subject is brought up… I have a life I am a mother Etc.
The maddening thing about former obots is their contention that "" they're all crooks and it wouldn't have mattered."

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Until I saw Lambert's reply, did not realize (sorry, reading in a rush, in a public space), nor did I realize that you were concerned about the effect on your daughter.

I apologize that I didn't pick up that sentiment. I thought that your concern was "the opinion of activists and the Democratic Party chattering class, and society in general" (i.e., Michael Moore, etc). That's why I went into my "spiel" about not worrying about others opinions. So, pretty much I guess my opinion was irrelevant to your concerns. Good luck with attempting to convince her that activism is all important. Whatever her views.

Speaking of Moore, as much as I have enjoyed several of his movies, I think that he's a sell-out regarding "liberal values, etc."

And I also believe that he would take the stance of the Democratic Party leadership, on anything "today." Sadly, I believe that when he started out, he held liberal values.

But once he started making "big money,"--well, they're whatever the Dem Party Establishment message of the day is.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

The generational curse goes back to Big Orange and 2004. Big Orange did not just go after the Washington power elite who kept losing elections, it went after anyone who had been active in Democratic politics for a long time, in other words, ordinary political volunteers. That got even worse in 2006. I am convinced that one of the reasons Ned Lamont lost the general election was the viscous attacks make against Lieberman volunteers, including teenagers, on blogs. But the in 2006 was reserved for older party workers who were regarded as corrupt. So when Obama came along it all just fell into place. Markos Moulitsas is a horrendous digital bully, but it took me a long time to realize that.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Thanks for the "history" lesson on Big Orange. I never read Kos. Here's why [from Wikipedia]:

Moulitsas is a fellow at the New Politics Institute,[31][32] a think tank of the New Democrat Network, which was founded by Simon Rosenberg in 1996. The NDN's stated purpose is to help elect "centrist" Democrats, and is considered by many to be a successor to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), an organization that Simon Rosenberg resigned from in 1996.

So, I'm sure you're right. Back then, I was "nowhere near" blogs in 2006, but was actively engaged in listening to "Air America" Radio, and my understanding is that one reason for Lamont's defeat was the "Establishment Dems" helped defeat "the insurgent Lamont," LOL!

Heck, Bill Clinton (and other big name Dems) even "stumped for" Lieberman. [See

Bill Clinton Campaigns For Lieberman,

AP/ February 11, 2009, 6:13 PM,]

My impression is that today, Kos is not even one of the most-read diarists on his blog. At least, that's how it appears to me.

I fear that much of the "generational war" has to do with the "neoliberal" agenda. And it has infected both Dem and Repub corporatists (so-called centrists).

When we return, will search for an audio of Chrystia Freeland describing this agenda--shared by the corporatists or centrists of both parties as--"predistribution vs redistribution."

That's the reason that the Dems focus on "the young" these days, and have decided to (along with Republicans) throw seniors under the bus when it comes to "entitlements."

It was a fascinating take, and explained a lot of what is happening today. Apparently, this is the rage of both left and right think tanks, now.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

That's my impression also, regarding the Lamont campaign. Lamont won the primary, but instead of backing him as their candidate, most prominent Democrats either sat the election out or aided Lieberman in some way or another. This was my first clue that the idea of reforming the Democratic Party from within was daft. That party is a hierarchical organization, and like any such organization, it works for the purposes of its leaders. Until its leaders think they need to change direction, there's not going to be any change.

But a lot of people still have to discover that for themselves...

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Wish it weren't so, but agree that:

This was my first clue that the idea of reforming the Democratic Party from within was daft. That party is a hierarchical organization, and like any such organization, it works for the purposes of its leaders. Until its leaders think they need to change direction, there's not going to be any change.

But a lot of people still have to discover that for themselves...

I was still VERY engaged and activist within the Democratic Party until the Establishment Dems (with the help of the "frightful" candidate John "I don't do redistribution" Kerry and Dick Gephardt) undermined Dean's candidacy. And there was Ned Lamont.

This party has no "grass roots" (in the eyes of Elite and Establishment Dems). Al From and the DLC took care of that.

So, between the One Percent (who "vet" all candidates, I'm convinced) and the Dem Leadership, we're either stuck with "corporatist, neoliberal Dems," or we promote our candidates who are true to liberal values.

Conservatives suffered many defeats when they got sick of their Party Establishment. And it was a long, hard process.

But they won.

(And I believe the their descendancy is WAY overblown. Which is an observation--not a statement of support. The corporatist media simply want to keep a neoliberal, corporatist Dem or Repub in office--and narrow the field to practically the same candidate, as they did in 2012.).

In advance, please excuse typos and bad syntax. ;-)

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Sullivan sounds like a cross between Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes (Fox News).

Bowers' prediction was fairly accurate, I suppose.

A Dem strategist, pollster, demographer named Ruy Teixeria has been predicting a major demographic shift since at least the 90's.

It appears that the PtB believed that a relatively young person-of-color would be the best vehicle to usher in the demographic change, and win over both the youth and the minority vote, so crucial to form this new "post New Deal" coalition.

Wonder what they thought when they read yesterday's CNN Poll . . .

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Crap, Lambert; you made me read Andrew Sullivan. I've been slimed:

If you are an American who yearns to finally get beyond the symbolic battles of the Boomer generation and face today’s actual problems, Obama may be your man…
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face.

Submitted by lambert on

I told you to put down your coffee!

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

I've reached the point in my life where I plan to take the advice the Henry James character who shares your name:

“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?”

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

“…and that’s younger people — because they’re not as racist as the previous generations,” Moore said to applause and laughter…

By this same logic, those who voted for Clinton (the Boomers, one supposes based on this narrative) were clearly less sexist...

I do a lot of pushing back on what I take to be specious claims about how racist or sexist people are for having certain positions or attitudes. The 2008 Democratic primary was an excellent example of why. When you label someone, whether that label is "racist", "sexist", "communist", or what have you, you make it OK to dismiss whatever they say as thoughtless. You also make it a lot harder to admit afterward that they were right and you were wrong, should that prove to be the case.

As a matter of general principles, I've always assumed that progressives have their own blind spots and unexamined prejudices, but until the 2008 primary, I don't think I'd ever seen a really clear example of how widespread that phenomenon actually is.