Monday, January 26, 2009

Pretty Vacant

A thought on President Obama and the election, in light of last week's inauguration.

I visited my friend late in the day on Shabbos, and as is our minhag, we were sipping tea and discussing America as it pertains to the Jews. My friend was voicing her fears about our favourite topic of late, namely what the next 4 years is going to bring both for Jews and "the Free World At Large".

It occurred to me, as I was listening, that Obama was the perfect candidate for Young America. Gen Z is all about gesture morality, a "one step removed" ideology that is based on an individualized sense of what is "Right For Me", as represented by a reactionary lifestyle. Both this generation and Gen X are galvanized over the environment, but respond differently: whereas my graduating class from university chose to spend a year replanting the northern tundra in order to restore the damage done by Big Lumber, Gen Z chooses instead to buy hybrid cars.

So, when faced with a candidate who spoke in reactionary terms, who mentioned change without specifying the particulars of what "change' meant for him and the country, Gen Z found their ideal candidate. Obama's strategy was undeniably brilliant: present himself as a vacant repository for whatever "change" meant for the given Gen Z-er, as a picture frame upon which they could project their individualized ideology.

In the lyrics of my favourite Sex Pistols song, Johnny Rotten rants about the "pretty vacant" ideology that was destroying the UK. Let's hope that the foreshadowing of that song proves irrelevant to America and its allies over the next 4 years and beyond.

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