As I contemplate the coming election, I do wonder if a sort of cultural turning point hasn’t been reached, which was elucidated lo these many decades ago by Huey Lewis and the News – that it’s soon might be seen to be hip to be a square. Or to put it in standard English – if being sober, responsible, cheerfully working at a blue-collar and non-corporate job, engaged in a traditional man/woman marriage, and living out in flyover country somewhere, and being a traditionally patriotic, fiscally responsible, striving small business entrepreneur and home-schooling more than the requisite one or two designer-perfect offspring … might be the default option for the rebellious and non-conformist? I mean, really – look around at the current social and educational landscape in some of our larger and supposedly more urban and urbane environments. Take a good long look; I have a stack of barf-bags handy. What could be more logical than to rebel against such decay, despair, conformity and criminality than to stake out a suburban (or even rural) homestead in flyover country somewhere and wholly become what the putrid 1960’s retreads were rebelling against in the first place?

Look, the standard-bearers of 1968 have taken over the higher ground, roosted in the educational, media and political establishments like a flock of grackles – shrieking to high heaven and splattering the surface underneath with a Jackson-Pollocking layer of artistic but bad-smelling dung. Well, really – what could be more fun to the naturally rebellious youth than to tell the baby-boom cohort of elders (who basically trashed every American institution as they moved through it, save perhaps the military, technology, the culinary arts – and possibly retail) to take a hike, I’m going to live like my grandparents, or maybe my great-grandparents? Plant a garden, go off the grid and make your own clothes, and preserved food? I know that Martha Stewart was responsible for a lot of renewed popularity with regard to home-making, but she always seemed to me to be someone striving for Right-Coast upper-class respectability. What does one make of web and cable cooking-show personalities like Ree Drummond, the accidental country girl who wound up on a ranch in Oklahoma, living a comparatively laid-back life, cooking and gardening, and home-schooling four children?

Could this rebelling by going back to basics account for the retro appeal of Mitt Romney? Staid, conventional, traditional 1950s-Leave It To Beaver-style marriage, large and happy family, picket-fence suburban ideal home – everything that the brigades of 1968 revolted against, and subsequently established a new normal of something completely different from it – and now a new generation is rebelling against that? Amusing to contemplate, anyway.

I just hope the fashion for girdles and wearing high-heels and stockings to vacuum the floor is one thing that never revives. That stuff is uncomfortable.


  1. Rich Rostrom

    There have been flickers of this sort of thing before. Remember Family Ties. with the ex-hippie parents and Reaganite children? And that was 30 years ago.

    The underlying trend is simple. Charles Murray found it in the data of the General Social Survey.
    See The White House and the Pauline Kael Syndrome.

    Short version: The GSS includes political alignment self-identification reports, which can be broken down by socioeconomic segment. From 1972 to 2008, every segment moved slightly to the right – except “Intellectual Upper Class”, which moved way to the left.

    So – there is a profound gap between the culture-setters and the general populace. This will continue for a long time. The culture-setters will continue to rag the unenlightened masses in their direction.

  2. Yes, I was thinking of Family Ties, too. I shouldn’t wonder that the ‘intellectual upper class’ will be absolutely crushed at how readily their guidance is being thrown off by the proles.
    Especially if the election turns out to be an overwhelming landslide for Romney-Ryan. The p*ssing and moaning will be EPIC!

  3. From an Eric Hoffer interview…

    “…I have no grievance against intellectuals. All that I know about them is what I read in history books and what I’ve observed in our time. I’m convinced that the intellectuals as a type, as a group, are more corrupted by power than any other human type. It’s disconcerting to realize that businessmen, generals, soldiers, men of action are less corrupted by power than intellectuals.

    “In my new book I elaborate on this and I offer an explanation why. You take a conventional man of action, and he’s satisfied if you obey, eh? But not the intellectual. He doesn’t want you just to obey. He wants you to get down on your knees and praise the one who makes you love what you hate and hate what you love. In other words, whenever the intellectuals are in power, there’s soul-raping going on.”

    Been trying to find the source for that – apparently it was from an interview Eric Sevareid did in the ’70s(?) – but an original source is hard to find.

    Seems true, though – it’s not enough to comply with the dictates from on high from the intelligentsia, you must LOVE them. Rather like gay marriage – you can’t be ‘eh, don’t really care’ about it, that’s not allowed. So I joke that it’s a great opportunity for lawyers to access the last untapped legal frontier – gay divorce. I don’t care about the subject, but it gives them something that satisfies their itch to MAKE me care.

    At any rate – if someone tells me proudly that they’re an intellectual, I immediately can figure that they’ve got plenty of theoretical knowledge which earned them good marks in school… and pretty much no actual experience with the real world and its ability to take theory and shred it in favor of reality.

    And that I need to stay away from them, because the attempts to implement their theories will most likely be painfully expensive and wasteful, ultimately futile, leaving things worse than before, and praised as a success because of their good intentions.

  4. Jim Burke

    No girdels – garter belts! ;-)

  5. Robin Juhl

    Don’t kid yourself about the military. It has been thoroughly inoculated with “political correctness.” There is a large enough contingent of “progressives” at the top to keep everyone else silent as they fundamentally re-make the US military into a buch of blue-hat clones. Just look at the rules of engagement, for instance.