I was born in 1967. I was 12 years old when Ronald Reagan was elected and even though both my parents were strong Democrats, living in Washington DC suburb, there really wasn't much political talk happening in my household.
I grew up during the Reagan revolution. The sweep of the conservative zeitgeist that rolled in after the 60's/70s era of labor rights, equal rights, sexual liberation and liberalism. I grew up when the pendulum was swinging back to the right.
Most of my life I considered myself conservative or at least not [gasp!] liberal (that dirty word). But I'm observing something these days. That word "liberal" isn't so dirty anymore and I think it speaks to a generational zeitgeist that the GOP is on the losing end of this time.
From 1980 through 2006, about 30 years, the right has enjoyed dominance. Dominance in narrative. Dominance in political power. Dominance in American culture. One need look no further than the fact that today's Democratic party is actually to the right of yesterday's Republican party in many ways to understand how far rightward their 30 year dominance has pulled the entire country, including the party that is supposed to represent the "left".
But look what's happening today.
In 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11 and the lies about the war in Iraq, an entire generation of kids witnessed GOP incompetence and dishonesty. A kid who was 12 on 9/11 is the same kid who was part of the Democratic party's "youth base".
Then there was a financial meltdown in 2008 because of "the free market" and "loose regulations". This while Barack Obama, a smart charismatic politician and leader, rose up, excited those youth and won the Presidency.
In 2011, the Occupy movement was born. And despite the fact that they considered themselves non-partisan, nobody was calling them conservatives out there. They changed the narrative in this country single handedly and returned the discussion to fairness and income equality and equality of opportunity. It's a leftist message, like it or not and no amount of shutting down Occupy Camps changed that.
I was 12 when a popular and charismatic Ronald Reagan excited a generation of people, including America's youth. I remember this show and really liking Alex Keaton, the young Republican that gave his hippie parents heartburn.
But now, those kids who were 12 when 9/11 happened; those kids who were 12 when the Iraq war was discovered to be a lie; those kids who were 12 during Obama's first presidential campaign and the Republican financial meltdown; those kids who were 12 when the Occupy movement was born; those kids who were 12 when the GOP exposed itself as the racist, bigoted, religio-fascist, plutocratic party it is; those kids who were 12 when it became, once again, OK to call oneself a liberal - THOSE KIDS are lost to the GOP just as I was lost to the Democratic party for decades.
I was a lifetime independent by registration. And yes, I voted both ways. It wasn't until 2009, after - AFTER - working for the Obama campaign and for Health Reform in my community that I changed parties - in part because I was invited to become a delegate.
The reality is the pendulum has swung back to the left. It will be here for the next 30 years. It was ushered in by a strong charismatic political leader, Barack Obama, in my the way the right's rise was ushered in by Ronald Reagan. But I think it will go deeper. The internet, the free exchange of information that is second nature to Americans now - and especially young Americans, has aided the swing left and may in fact deepen it.
After all, the right has solidified its "brand". Who wants to be associated with hateful old racists? With anti-gay bigots? With religious nutbags? With greedy heartless assholes? With people who ignore math and science?
No, the GOP has lost an entire generation. And the loss may be more even more profound than the Reagan revolution was.
9:27 AM PT: Wow! Thanks for the rec list, ya'll. I really like the discussion going on in comments, too. Some really insightful thoughts and ideas.