Time to move the Overton Window back to the center

If he’s the nominee, we’re in trouble.

Have you ever heard of the Overton Window? That’s the movable political “center.”

Back in the 1970s, the Democratic party stood for universal access to health care, a living wage and more. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was to be a program that would mostly end poverty in a single generation, but it was overwhelmed by the Vietnam War It was, however, a Democratic ideal, and Robert Kennedy would have continued those policies. The Republican Party platform at the time looked about like the Democratic Party platform does now.

Under Ronald Reagan, the conversation moved way to the right, and it continued to do so, fueled, at least in part by Fox News once it hit the airwaves. Suddenly, “liberal” was a dirty word and government was bad — always bad, no matter what. The Overton Window was parked squarely in front of conservative Republicans, and it has moved steadily to the right ever since.

The conversation kept moving rightward until today, the very things that were in the 1976 Democratic Party platform are considered “far-left,” or “socialist,” even though that’s exactly what the majority of Americans want.

Our two parties now represent 1960s-era Republicans and fascists, and both sit well to the right of center. Wall Street is trying to get the Democrats to put up another 1960s-era Republican against the fascist currently squatting in the Oval Office, and too many of my Democratic friends are rolling over and saying they’ll vote for that.

Sorry, but I’m not so sure I’m willing to do that again, and I know millions of others feel the same way. I’m not saying I won’t vote blue unless Bernie is the nominee, but it had better be someone who will work toward those same traditional Democratic values, because even if I get in line and vote for the moderate, as I did last time, millions of others will not.

A “moderate” (a 1960s-era Republican) will not win in 2020.

The DNC needs to understand that.Republican opinion writers are telling us we have to put up a moderate, but that’s just so David Brooks and his ilk will have somebody they can vote for. Well, I don’t give a damn how David Brooks and other moderate Republicans vote, I want a Democrat — a real Democrat, and I hope the DNC understands that I’m not in the minority.

I want health care and sensible gun laws and real action on climate change. I want private, for-profit prisons banned. I want minimum wage to be a living wage. I want prison camps for migrants and the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And the majority of Americans want those same things.

The ball is in your court, DNC. You can play to win or play to lose, but don’t blame me when Uncle Joe goes down in flames.

Listen to the young people

I like Joe Biden personally, but that doesn’t mean he can win the presidency. Young people won’t vote for him, and they have to live with the consequences of this election a lot longer than I do.

Joe Biden won’t win.

You can argue with that all you want, scream bumper-sticker slogans at me, hate people who won’t give in to your demands — and Joe Biden still won’t win.

In fact, no “moderate” will get young people out to vote. Here’s why:

Young people are getting out of school with a mountain of debt and no real job opportunities. They know we need real change if they are to have any chance of the life my generation was handed.

But we Boomers are a selfish lot. It has always and only been about us. Give us the power to change America for the better, we said in the 1960s. Our parents’ generation balked at that, so we protested, promising we would fix everything if they just passed the baton to us.

Then 1980 came. We had graduated college, paid off a few thousand dollars in debt, bought homes and started to save for retirement. Suddenly, our attitude became “I got mine, get your own,” and huge numbers of us voted for Ronald Reagan to secure our holdings. God forbid we should help people who were less fortunate — we just accused them of being lazy while we watched Republicans crush unions and steal our nation’s wealth.

Now, we’re at the age our parents were in the 1960s and ’70s, and we’re even more determined to hold onto power. We don’t care that our so-called leaders are denying science to the point that they’re endangering the very planet we call home. We are nearing the point of the collapse of our entire ecosystem, and no matter how “clever” we are, we can’t survive that as a species.

But sure, let’s suck the last few drops of fossil fuel out of the planet and allow it to cross the threshold of our ability to survive. I don’t care how smart humans are, we can’t breathe methane, and we can’t survive a broken food chain.

Young people know all this. They know that if we continue on our current path for just a few more years, we will kill the entire human race, perhaps within their lifetimes.

They know a vote for a moderate is a vote to continue along the current path of everything-for-profit and damn the consequences.

They need health care, and moderates say we really can’t fix that. Gradualism is the key, here, they say. Well, a single-payer system was proposed by Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago. How’s that for gradualism? Oh, and more Americans die every damn day we don’t fix this — approximately a half million since my son died from this cause 11 years ago. But, yeah, what’s a few hundred thousand human beings?

Young people need a living wage, but moderates say we should raise it up to $15 over the course of five years, even though it would have been $23 now if it had kept pace with inflation. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, you need that money NOW, not in five years, when it will be worth even less.

Yeah, I know. You’re going to invoke the courts. They already have the courts. Mitch McConnell has been quietly stacking the courts for years. And a moderate who appoints moderates won’t fix that, either.

Young people look at all this and demand better. If we don’t give it to them in the form of a candidate who they’re willing to vote for, we will lose again, just as we did in 2016.

We Baby Boomers can continue to hold onto power while the entire planet crashes, or we can step aside and let the next generation take the reins. God knows they can’t screw it up any worse than we did.

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