In the buildup of national elections, once again a major influence remains the elephant in the room. I’m referring to the legacy – make that plural, legacies – of the hippie outburst, especially in contrast to those on the Vietnam war side of the divide.
The wounds and tensions haven’t gone away. Just look at the continuing proliferation of POW-MIA black flags across the landscape, on one side.
For the other, the lines are much more hazy yet festering. As I’ve been arguing, hippies came – and still come – in all varieties and degrees, and likely nobody ever fit what’s become the media stereotype. With the end of the military draft, the movement lost a crucial motivating force and focusing definition.
Complicating the situation was the distancing many youths on the antiwar side felt when it came to politics. With its support of the military at the time, liberal politics were tainted with outdated Cold War ideologies like those of the conservative side. For hippies, radical was the label of honor. And the Democratic Party base of the left was splintered as its youthful potential allies had nowhere to turn or direct their forces in the political arena.
The horror meant going from a hawkish LBJ administration to one of Richard Nixon.
Fast-forward now to the present American landscape. Gone are the grandparents and parents of many of the now senior baby boomers – the core of the hippie movement versus the older generations. Yet political candidates still tiptoe around many of the reality issues, beginning with marijuana and other illicit substances, as if they’re too hot to touch. Let’s get real. Want to talk about litmus tests?
As we look at candidates, ask where each stands on a scale of continuing issues from the hippie stream. I find it enlightening.
- Peace and social justice activism.
- Sexual equality … including abortion rights.
- Racial equality.
- Environmental and ecological issues, including the outdoors.
- Educational alternatives and opportunities.
- Sustainable economics and fair trade.
- Spirituality and radical religion.
- Fitness along the lines of yoga, bicycling, kayaking, hiking.
- Organic and natural foods.
- Marijuana reform.
- Arts and crafts.
- Community as common wealth, including health care.
- Labor as a matter of respect and a livable income.
Well, we have Bernie running straight true to the cause. Hillary, more cautiously so. But on the right? Let me suggest being wary of anyone in the pro-war camp who hasn’t served. Period. As for other life experiences?
All of this returns me to my Hippie Trails series of novels. I’d love for you to come along. Just click here.