Letters

Hillary in 2008? Plus, readers respond to an interview with Danny Goldberg about why the Democrats lost the youth vote.


Salon Staff
June 20, 2003 11:00PM (UTC)

[Read "How the Left Lost Teen Spirit."]

I'm 34 years old and have been a registered Democrat since I became old enough to vote. Mostly I agree with Danny Goldberg's comments about the Democrats, but I don't think he's been fair to Al Gore. I really couldn't care less whether he's in touch with youth culture. It seems to me that his policies were designed to ensure that after a lifetime of paying in to Social Security, I'll actually receive it when I retire! Not to mention environmental policies which result in our having a climate that remotely resembles the one we had when I was a kid, and let's not forget my right to have an abortion, or funding for education ... need I go on? These are policies that really help young people and I'd rather see a candidate who supports them than one who knows who Eminem is. Maybe if the Democrats hadn't let the Republicans get control of the mass media, we'd actually be hearing about how much better their dorky candidates' policies are for us than Bush's slash-and-burn tax cuts for the rich.

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-- Joy Romanski

In his interview with Andrew O'Hehir, explaining how the Democratic left can recover the youth vote, not even once does Danny Goldberg mention the military. Either he's speaking from jinky talking points, or he's quite oblivious to what the young people he claims to know so well really think. In Harvard University's study of undergraduate opinion late last year, for instance, we learn that students name the military as the most trusted institution, far outranking every other branch of government, with large corporations and the media in dead last. (Unsurprising that Goldberg might not grasp this, come to think of it, as his real bailiwick is the packaging of musical talent for large media corporations.)

In aggregate, the young today are the most socially liberal generation in the country's history. They are also the most hawkish and pro-military in decades. A viable presidential candidate with a progressive domestic platform matched to an aggressive, unapologetically strong national defense would crush Bush like a bug. (And sorry, Senator Kerry's over-nuanced, kinda-sorta-hawkishness will probably not cut it, in this regard.) Unfortunately, we are not likely to get such a candidate, for it is influential, Vietnam-era boomers like Goldberg who will not embrace this new, post-9/11 reality, still enamored as they are by the self-regarding, antiwar dissent fantasies of their own youth.

-- W. James Au

I've been waiting to hear someone say this for a very long time. At last, someone recognized the dull-as-dust presentations of liberals, from Al Gore to the environmental movement: racks of statistics and policy jargon has insidiously replaced biting satire, good music, style, and energy. Democrats, listen! Get rid of Terry McAuliffe and the corporate-bland DNC, find creative people to get the message out in languages the people understand, and fight to win! How on earth did it come to pass that Republicans seem to be having more fun?

A final note to Mr. Goldberg: Look to your own house -- if you have any power in the music industry, you could do a lot to support more politically active performers, not just the materialistic rappers and American idols!

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-- Dr. J. Grygny

When will Salon realize that Democrats are not Leftists -- they are at best welfare capitalists. Further, that Gore, Clinton and Bush have virtually identical foreign policies and near identical domestic policies. Why have you forgotten that eight years of war and sanctions on Iraq, that Plan Colombia, arms transfers to Turkey for the "evacuation campaign" against the Kurds, support for the dictator Suharto, the bombing of Serbia, etc. were all part of the Clinton era, and that it was Clinton who oversaw GATT, the creation of the WTO, major media consolidations, and increases in defense spending to the detriment of social spending?

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-- Nick Copanas

Danny Goldberg has a point: Moralistic liberal politicians waggling their fingers at popular culture hurt the Democratic Party. But Democrats need to become the party of liberation again without losing their critical edge. More effective liberal criticism of popular culture is needed, not less.

To take a specific example, many liberals think driving an SUV to Wal-Mart to buy the latest misogynist DVD has a lot of negative consequences ... contributing to traffic congestion, pollution, gender discrimination, overdevelopment, etc. Liberal leaders fail because they tend to moralize about such matters -- mocking Americans' weaknesses for large internal combustion engines or bad movies.

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Instead, Democrats could propose alternative models of liberation to the corporate-sponsored culture Goldberg embraces. As I see it, if you want to take a fast train to a warm summer afternoon at an unpolluted beach, then you shouldn't be voting Republican. And I don't care if you want to read Mad Magazine or Dante's "Inferno" when you get there.

-- David Hyde

In your June 17th interview with Danny Goldberg, he showed great perceptiveness in linking the lack of enthusiasm among the young within the Democratic Party with liberals' failure to express idealism as conservatives have. This is why, in pre-Ashcroft days, I called myself a conservative.

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However, I take exception to some of his words. Young people, like myself, do not care whether or not a candidate's strategist has heard of Eminem or any other musician. The implication that we do is an attempt to equate a generation with the products that corporations decide to offer to it. This did not work with the "Pepsi Generation" and it is not going to work today.

He claims Democrats act "As if popular culture had been created by Martians, instead of by the actual people in the country." This is deceptive -- this music isn't being created or chosen by kids listening to it -- it is written in boardrooms and focus groups, played by the radio stations that receive sufficient payola.

While I don't accuse Mr. Goldberg of being responsible for this, whatever hostility for the 18- to 24-year-old demographic may be felt by Baby Boom Democrats is exceeded by that felt by Baby Boom music executives today. The industry shows little interest in searching for and funding new, innovative talent, and refuses to use the Internet for distribution -- both necessary for appeal to youth. He is very wise to call Democratic whining about young non-participation as a pathetic excuse distracting politicians from their own failings. Is he wise enough to see that the excuses offered by the music industry for their own falling sales figures are no different?

By the way, Mr. Goldberg, was it truly necessary to take a dig at all Washington, D.C. culture just to explain the actions of a few legislators?

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-- Donald Crimbchin

[Read "She's Off and Running."]

It's been entertaining this week to watch certain Republicans' frenzied scramble to discredit Hillary Clinton's success both in politics and publishing. And yet, I worry that too much emphasis is being put on Clinton's potential campaign in 2008 while the 2004 election looms.

Unless we want to endure another four years of Bush, progressives -- Democrat or otherwise -- need to focus on the immediate task of identifying and promoting a candidate for 2004. Even Hillary might have trouble cleaning up the mess if Bush gets another four years in office.

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-- Julie Artz

I just want to say, thank you Joan Walsh, for cutting Hillary a break. I'm more than a little tired of the so-called "left" cannibalistically savaging its own, in the name of some mythical "balance" dictated by the right, who don't even pretend to it themselves.

Hillary is certainly not perfect ... but check out D.C. these days and tell me who is?

Take the administration ... please. Take them somewhere far, far, away. No matter what people "feel" about Hillary, she has far more guts, integrity, brains, savvy, and even, yes, humanity, than almost anyone else in the Beltway.

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I don't know if she's "likable" as a person but I don't need to. I respect her abilities and strengths. She's a politician, not my mother. What I care about is -- what is her agenda? Is it my agenda? And can she get it done?

And I believe the answer to that is a resounding yes. And I think it's time that we start concentrating on the future of our country, not whether we like her personality, clothes or hairdo.

-- Claudia Long

Joan Walsh's article about the reaction to "Living History" illustrates that media commentators, like Chris Matthews, are really entertainers, and they entertain for a very narrow demographic group -- white men who are afraid of strong, independent women.

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It also illustrates the fact that they can't stand the fact they are really irrelevant to the political process. All the carping they did about Bill Clinton, and, look, the voters elected him twice. All the carping they did about Hillary Clinton, and, look, she gets 55 percent of the vote, on the same night their candidate, Bush, was actually losing the popular vote.

I am like Walsh, I will give money to a Hillary campaign just to watch them squirm.

-- John Logan


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