During the Vietnam War one political dynamic emerged that crushed the Democratic Party for a generation. It was known as the hard hats versus the hippies. The hippies were thought of as elite rich kids who had the courage of their conviction as long as it was avoiding service to country and walking out of class. This led to what Kevin Phillips called The Silent Majority and informed Republican narratives from Nixon to Reagan. While working class kids were sent off to Vietnam to die, these children of the elite burned draft cards while some ran off to Canada to avoid chipping their well-manicured nails.
Some applied for conscientious objector status facing jail time. If jails were filled just as in the Freedom Riders struggle the nation would have noticed their moral stand. Instead most chose the easy path. Now we have Pajama Boy as the poster hipster for the Obama Administration.
A picture is worth a thousand words and this one reeks of elitism. Like the Vietnam era meme this one projects an image of the soft life. The birthright of comfortable living. This kid has clearly never worked a day in his life. Never broken a sweat unless gaming and considers himself a progressive even though he shops at union busters like Target, Starbucks, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. He is a poseur with no skin in the game and blogs in solidarity with the masses but would never invite one into his home. Unfair maybe, but in politics perceptions matter and this one will do more damage than a thousand Koch Brothers.
During the Vietnam era the AFL-CIO realized they had a problem with members supporting anti-union politicians simply out of disgust for the next generation. An organization called Frontlash was welcomed into the Family of Labor’s network of support groups. Frontlash existed to fight the backlash, to encourage young people to vote, to engage to be a part of the community in a constructive way. Later Frontlash organized chapters of young union workers and college students to educate and mobilize the next generation about labor’s issues. Sure they likely won’t get a union card after graduation, but as shoppers and citizens they could have an impact on their community. No movement has more of an impact on American communities than labor. Union workers are the best of any community.
Now the Democratic Party is at it again with this Pajama Boy who is clearly taking a break from his Occupy tent in this cold weather. Dressed in smug comfortable self-righteousness he is emblematic of what young progressive political and sadly many young labor staffers consider the true community. That isolation, that ignorance of what real people face day to day is just the sort of bubble that Frontlash burst to great effectiveness. Unfortunately Frontlash was disbanded when SEIU President John Sweeney was elected AFL-CIO leader in the 1990’s.
It is time to take on the hipster-hardhat backlash before it is too late and bring back Frontlash. Hipsters need not be shunned they just need to be educated. Unfortunately Pajama Boy doesn’t learn anything about the real community listening to the NPR echo chamber and reading Daily Kos. It’s not too late but if this picture is the future of the Democratic Party then those thousand words will be the eulogy of the real progressive movement in America.