Friday, June 09, 2006

Constitution as Cadillac

General Motors has a multitude of problems these days. One of the few problems they seem to have solved was the fact that, until recently, their customers were literally dying off. When Yuppies moved on to Bimmers and Mercedeseses and Lexi back in the 80s, the average age of its customers started rising dramatically, reaching well into the 60s. The only thing that saved Caddy was the adoption of the over-the-top Escalade by the bling-bling crowd, which is now driving that number back down.

Today I read Glenn Greenwald's "How Would a Patriot Act." If you are a regular reader of his excelent blog, the book will be a quick read, though you might be in for a shock if you haven't fully internalized the implications of what Glenn is talking about. He's absolutely right about the danger he sees and its magnitude.

Those two paragraphs have approximately nothing to do with each other, you say? Trust me.

I also attended Glenn's book tour appearance in San Francisco earlier today. Glenn in person is a lot like Glenn in print: earnest, focused, polite, factual and persuasive. A crowd of about 75 attentive and supportive people showed up.

The thing that really struck me was the average age of the attendees. I didn't formally poll, of course, but I'd wager that close to 90% of the attendees were Boomers or older. A couple of women self-identified as Raging Grannies. I only saw two or three people I would peg as being in their twenties or younger.

I think this a symptom of a larger and frightening problem. Where are the college kids? The long-ago anti-Vietnam protests were largely a youth phenomenon. Can it really be the case that the vanguard of the resistance almost forty years later is largely composed of those same people?

I know the folks at Yearly Kos are talking about the diversity they see there. Maybe the younger San Franciscans who would otherwise have come were all in Vegas. And maybe a Constitutional crisis over separation of powers is still too abstract to appeal to most twenty-somethings. But I worry that, like Cadillac's cars, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights no longer appeal to the young.

That would be a failure of epic and tragic proportions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

TheYouth movement of the '60s was fueled by the Draft...and the neocons know it. Thus, no draft today. How quickly do you think the streets would fill if young people thought they were going to be sent to Viet Nam (I mean Iraq) if the Draft was brought back?

3:12 AM  
Blogger bluememe said...

A, I think you are right that (a) the draft was a major factor then and (b) a draft today would have a similar effect. That implies that immediate self-interest has a lot to do with such protests, and I suspect that is true, too.

So how come the aging hippies are still the ones protesting now? I can think of a number of reasons, but self-interest doesn't really fit -- at least not in a way that points specifically to them.

9:02 AM  

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