Poor Joe Klein. Seems he blames his generation for the dysfunction in DC. In a new piece for Time he really only blames one group for the dysfunction, calling it a “desperate last gasp of a white majority and an era.” Um, okay. Apparently Klein seems to think the black minority in this country electing leaders like Charlie Rangel is not at fault. Or that the leadership of the country’s first Generation X leader, Barack Obama, has no culpability in the blundering of DC.
I struggle to unwind the logic of his argument from the general angry rantings of a liberal. Klein compares the modern-day Tea Party to the New Left of his youth. While he admits the New Left of his youth did not appeal to much of the public he defends it nonetheless, arguing “we opposed a criminally foolish war; we marched for racial equality.” I am pretty sure those in and sympathetic to the Tea Party would describe their fight as something similar like not saddling their children with an unbearable fiscal debt or being witness to a holocaust masqueraded as giving women “choice.”
Klein, like most liberal rantings, brings in anecdotal evidence to back his position. Using Senator Ted Cruz’z father (not the Senator himself) as an example he creates an image of the House GOP, the good Senator from Texas and the Tea Party as being full of racists. I do not even want to get started on his extremely shortened history of how the GOP became crazy. Simply put, there is more to it than Roe vs. Wade, Ronald Reagan and then the Tea Party.
In the end Klein gets to his point but again it is intermixed with liberal ranting about how gerrymandering is the devil, lobbyists are bad and money in politics is corrupting. I wonder where Klein was when Obama raised over $1 billion for each of his Presidential campaigns or Illinois Democrats basically wiping out the state’s Congressional GOP delegation though gerrymandering? Probably reminiscing about the good old days of his youth.
I will try to be serious now. Certainly Klein’s generation, the Baby-Boomers, bear some fault for where the country is today. But to lay it all at their feet is foolish. The Baby-boomers did not create Social Security. Many Boomers were also barely old enough to vote when racial gerrymandering was codified under the Voting Rights Act. Likewise, Medicare was created in the 60’s when Boomers were just coming of age politically. In short, the generation of the Depression was extremely liberal and gave us many of the entitlements we have today. Entitlements I might add that Democrats refuse to touch and cause the deficit to skyrocket.
Much has changed during the Boomer’s era. We have gone through recessions, fought wars, and seen the economy change rapidly. New laws such as Medicare Part D have been passed and older laws such as the VRA, SS and Medicare have been modified. New Departments such as Education and Homeland Security have been created under both Democratic and Republican Presidencies. Deficit spending has gone higher and higher. But again, during this period Generation X individuals were going out and voting, expressing their preferences as they are allowed to do. In 2008 and 2012 Millennials dramatically affected the outcome of those elections.
As for those who make up the House GOP and give it a majority, many of them are not Boomers but Generation X’ers who came of age during Reagan and Clinton. Indeed, more and more of the Democratic Party is becoming the same. There may be considerable disagreement in DC among old and young politicians but it is simply reflecting our parties today. White men and women, young and old are more Republican minorities more Democratic. I wonder if Klein is willing to call the white women and young white men who voted for Republicans in 2010 a bunch of extremists? Probably not.
In essence, Klein’s piece is nothing but wishing for the good old days and hoping things change. Personally, I understand confrontation is part of politics. What is happening in DC is not a debate along generational lines (that is occurring within the parties themselves) but a debate over different visions for the country. One vision is represented by the House GOP and the other by a Democratic President and Democratic Senate. Klein should note this and stop blaming his generation alone for where this country is today and somehow linking the Tea Party to the era of segregation and minority suppression.