Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
It’s funny how good art not only holds up but also shifts in meaning as the years go by. The Times They are A-Changin’ is such a piece of art. This venerated song of my parents’ generation, for many an anthem of the left, is now 50 years old.
And it is and was an anthem for the left, to be sure. But times have indeed changed and the people who are now in the way are the same people who were pushing the old guard out of the hallways a half century ago.
The establishment is ossified and self-serving. Dylan’s song is a song of rebellion and optimism. It speaks of a new world that is nearly incomprehensible to the older generation. We have a very similar situation today.
Whereas the baby boomers had access to much more information than their parents, and much more technology than their parents. Such a difference was there that the term “generation gap” was coined to explain the differences between the generations. How much wider is the gap today?
Talk to the average 60 year old person about social media and often one is met with at least some derision (which I believe masks fear). At least this has been my experience. This is of course by no means uniform. Some of the most technologically adept people I know are in their 60s and 70s. They built Silicon Valley after all.
However, I feel that the establishment in general fears more than celebrates the broad sharing of information and ideas. I feel that many see the world as far too tumultuous, and that technology is the culprit. Gone are the steady union jobs. Gone are the 2 parties one could count on. Gone are the 3 familiar talking heads giving the country the news every night. Gone is the world they used to know. And what do we have now? Twitter? God help us!
This past Sunday night I was watching Madmen which this season takes place in 1966 New York City. One of the key ongoing themes of the show is how the World War II and Korean War generations dealt with the massive influx of new ideas which were born from the baby boomers. There was a good bit of fear, but for many of the characters there’s even more a sense of just plain confusion. What the hell is going on?
Funny that the agents of change are now the bloated bureaucrats, but maybe that’s just the way of the world.
Both political parties are trying to deal with what is going on in broader society, change on par with what happened in the 1960s. The Democrats have the luxury of having an incumbent president who campaigned on “change.” This insulates them a bit to what’s going on but at least some within the party know that their time leading the idea parade is rapidly running out.
The Republicans on the other hand are beside themselves. It looks like Mitt Romney, a man so liberal he was elected governor of Massachusetts, is about to be nominated as the GOP candidate. This after a real challenge from the social conservatives in Rick Santorum.
But though Romney is the choice of the GOP establishment, the establishment could have dealt with Santorum had the former senator been able to go further or even take it to the convention. Santorum was a vestige of the 1980s Moral Majority. The current leadership of the GOP has placated evangelicals for over a quarter century. The “Christian conservatives” were/are not of real concern.
Ron Paul however scares them to death. Why?
Because Ron Paul represents a whole new way of playing the game. All the old tried and true ways of dealing with a rival candidate don’t work with Paul and his followers.
The reason the tried and true ways don’t work is because the game has changed. Interestingly Ron Paul, the oldest guy in the race, is the only one hip to it. Sean Hannity is not the future of politics, sorry.
But instead of embracing the new and fresh energy Ron Paul has brought into the party, a party which desperately needs young people to be sustainable going forward, the GOP has dug in its heels and declared that it will not bend to the Ron Paul barbarians. You know the barbarians who actually believe in free enterprise and small government. The GOP is the establishment’s party. Ron Paul is not invited.
The Dems have quietly looked on as Ron Paul has challenged the status quo in the GOP. But they aren’t smiling. The Obama machine knows Mittens has the ability to squeeze out a win. But though Ron Paul has the potential to lose bigger, Ron Paul also has the potential to win a mandate ala Ronald Reagan in 1980. This would be a disaster for the Dems because suddenly the TEA Party becomes mainstream and real issues are suddenly on the table. There would be a massive influx of new, market oriented thinking in Washington, and big bureaucracies—the heart of the Democrat Party, would likely be cut. Romney isn’t going to cut anything.
So both the GOP and the Dems fear Ron Paul because he is a true agent of change. Not phony baloney, big government 1930s-esque change. But real, honest to goodness, new ways of thinking, 21st Century, change.
It’s coming whether the establishment of both parties wants it or not.
So again in the words of Bob Dylan:
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.