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July 05, 2005

An Open Letter to My Younger Sister

I have a much younger sister, Lisa, who has sometimes said she was sorry that she wasn’t old enough to be involved in the late 60’s as I most definitely was.  She always thought she’d missed being part of the political vitality of that time.  I understand that.  I was too young to take part in the Civil Rights Movement which I felt like I missed out on but I was right there with the anti-Vietnam War rallies, the social experimenting of that time, and the environmental movement and I enjoyed it.   

On Friday, after hearing that O’Connor had resigned, I thought that Lisa is going to get what she wished for. 

But I am so sorry for her and for all of us.  I would have much preferred a time when we could build community together, all of us, red and blue and purple.  Instead, it sometimes feels like we are about to really see a new version of the Vietnam War era, maybe with some parts of a softer McCarthy Era and a non-violent version of the Civil War thrown in as well.  Or possibly, if the story about Rove outing Plame and committing perjury really has the legs that it’s starting to have, we can throw in Watergate as well. 

I would not have wished what I fear is coming on any of us.  I would rather continue to spend my discretionary time and money on writing and playing with my beautiful young niece and finding new hiking trails and camping in Mexico.  I can and will still do some of that of course but increasingly I find that I will choose to spend some part of my discretionary time and money on rebuilding democracy in this country.

And that has forced me to try to see why this happened – why did we get this awful administration?  How did we get a Democratic Party so inept and sometimes not easily distinguishable from the corporate side of the Republican Party?  Why is it that we, and so many people of other generations as well, have to get in and mop up this mess?

All I can think is that we didn’t finish the job we started to do in the late 60’s.  The Vietnam War ended; the Civil Rights laws were in place; governmental money was being spent on decreasing poverty; the gap between the rich and the poor was at the narrowest point in history; environmental laws were enacted, and so on.  We didn’t understand that democracy is an on-going process, not something we can step in and “fix” periodically.  We allowed ourselves to get complacent and did not stay on top of the Democratic Party, let alone national politics.   Then we could not believe our eyes when the right wing started kicking our butts.  With the election of Clinton, we thought we were safe but we weren’t.  We didn’t realize that he was an anomaly – a once-in-a-generation charismatic politician.  And the rest we know.   

So this time we are going to have to stay with it past what is likely to be a long and arduous mop-up time in order to establish a sustaining and on-going democracy as well as a healthy Democratic Party.  So, welcome sister and all of you who are choosing to be part of this.  We will need all of us. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 5, 2005 at 03:01 PM in Miscellany | Permalink


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Remember the old Chinese blessing that is actually a curse: "may you live in interesting times . . ."
I'd just like to say about Clinton, Charismatic, yes; of the people, yes; for the people, no. He was a megalomaniac who used peoples faith in him to give us NAFTA and gut welfare.
As for these interesting times . . . it is up to all of us, from every generation, to overcome the social alienation that has corroded our society since the 70's and pitch in and take back democracy together.

Posted by: Mike in Bangor Washington | Jul 14, 2005 2:01:09 PM


I like that way of putting it - "the social alienation that has corroded our society". I've been focusing on the need to rebuild democracy and have seen the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as our only hope. Your perspective helps me tie it together. Thanks.

Posted by: Lynn | Jul 15, 2005 8:30:55 AM

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