Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What the Fringe Element Does for Us

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," hippie-dippy edition! Just stop by here for all the sex, drugs, and rock n roll you can handle. We'll fly the astral plane, take a trip around the Bay, bring you back the same day... da da da dum dum!

I'm just barely old enough to remember hippies. What I remember about hippies is what most people remember, if they think about it -- there weren't many true hippies. If you want to know what it was like to be a true hippie, read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe.

True hippies did the Timothy Leary thing: They turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. If they were political at all, they didn't live any one place long enough to vote.

When we think of "hippie," we think of draft protesters and flag-burners, and young people taking over college campuses (and getting shot for it). These people looked like hippies, but they were intensely engaged in the political process. And their influence was out-sized. Politicians courted them and listened to their demands. Thanks to these political "hippies," we no longer have a draft, people can vote at age 18, abortions are legal, and it's ok to burn the flag.

The counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s was led by a small group of loud people and was given big-time press coverage. It sent shock waves of fear through Mainstream America. The Summer of Love spawned the Moral Majority. It gave us Richard Nixon as a president. Ordinary folks were just shocked to the core by all this protesting ... and sex ... and drugs ... and long hair.

The backlash to hippies was the conservative resurgence.

Now we are faced with a new group of loud, politically active, outsider freaks who are getting a great deal of press time. They are the Tea Party movement, the Dominionists, the "Pray Away the Gay" morons like Rick Santorum. These people are a tiny minority of Americans, just as the hippies were. And just like the hippies, they're getting some political traction.

Fear not, gentle reader! The same ordinary, run-of-the-mill Americans who were shocked by the hippies will be equally shocked by the Tea Party and by people who want to re-name Washington, DC the "District of Christ." Fringe groups make a lot of noise, and sometimes they change national policy, but inevitably there will be a backlash against them. Illogical as it may sound, the Tea Party may usher in a prolonged period of liberal politics.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" feel pretty certain that the conservative fringe will get loud enough, and belligerent enough, to nauseate the mainstream. Eventually their traction will fail, and they'll all go limping off to the Elks Club, and Bible Study, and minor league baseball games. Their only legacy may be reducing the amount of health care Americans can get. Vote at 18 vs. reduced or eliminated Medicare. Well, I know which one of those options is better for our nation!

"District of Christ?" Meet "Summer of Love." We all wanna change the world.


The Traveler said...

I found a really interesting excerpt from the Rachel Maddow show where she talks to one of the professors who wrote American Grace(if you haven't heard of it it's a book about the statistics of religion and politics). Apparently they were doing an update for the paperback version and they found that the tea party is statistically just the old religious right. And apparently they are the most disliked group in America, lol.


i was a semi/hippy...I dropped acid, but I also worked 2-3 jobs and took care of my kids...don't ask me how, but I did.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

When you put it that way, it makes a lot of sense, Anne.

Terri in Joburg

John Beckett said...

This is why I don't want to silence the right-wing fringe. I want everybody in the country to hear their plans. Once they hear them, then average Baptist or Methodist won't want them any more than the average Druid or Wiccan.

Kimber said...

Off topic Anne, but an article just landed on my desk where schools in Camden, N.J. students can earn $100 each providing they attent anti-truancy sessions and maintain attendance over the next few weeks.

Holy monkeys. Crazy talk...

But then again, the average graduation rate in my state is about 68%.

Article found via AlaskaDispatch

Bukko Canukko said...

There are many variations on the definition of hippie. Where I used to live in Australia, a hippie was considered to be the same as a "feral," one of the unemployed, brain-addled, non-bathers who "slept rough" (i.e. was homeless.)

My wife, who is of an age that she had friends killed in Vietnam and went to more than 300 Greatful Dead shows (with ticket stubs to prove it), defines a hippie as everyone who saw through the establishment paradigm of the time and tried to think alternatively. She still considers herself and her San Francisco friends as hippies. Most of them have jobs (or at least they did until the Latest Depression knocked a lot of them out) and they're still political (although not as much as us, but we're rabid.)

One more thing, which I'm sure you know but didn't spell out as such except for the "voting at 18 vs. Medicare cuts" line -- the hippies were pretty much right about what they were seeking, while the Peatards are pretty much wrong.

kimc said...

I lived in Marin County, California during the sixties: Hippie Central. I was more of a beatnik myself.
I hope you are right about the reverse influence of the TeaPartiers. I just read, and passed on to my email group, a really depressing article about the end of the middle class and what life will be like without it.
It's called The Fifth Stage of Grief for the Middle Class Way of Life