I often hear the term generation gap used, but rarely is it applied to politics. It might be used to describe differences in opinions and political stances as it was in the 1960’s, but there is another type of generation gap too. This generation gap affects how people perceive past presidents. I think this topic is very relevant today because of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president.

Every kid growing up has a president that they identify with their youth. For kids and teens of the 1950’s it was Ike. In the 1960’s it would probably be JFK, and maybe in a negative sense, LBJ. The 1970’s were a decade of political upheaval when the presidency was tarnished by Nixon and Watergate, and didn’t recover until the 1980’s and Ronald Reagan. In the 1990’s it was Bill Clinton. For our current decade it will most likely be George W. Bush.

For the young voters of 2008, Bill Clinton will be the president that they grew up with, and the Clintons surely will use those good feelings about the 1990’s to return to the White House in 2008. There were many households where Clinton was loved. There were also quite a few where he was hated. When commentators bring up the fact that nostalgia for the 1990’s could play a role in Hillary Clinton’s popularity this is what they are referring to.

Compared to what has transpired since he left office, people are starting to look back on the Clinton years as good times. This type of emotional fondness is what the Clinton campaign is counting on to carry her to the nomination. Usually it is the GOP who is trying to turn back the clock, but in 2008, it might be the Democrats who are trying to return us to another time.

The Clinton generation gap is going to be where her campaign is going to look to cash in on the appeal of her husband. Barack Obama is trying to counter this by saying that we need new leadership for a new generation, and he may be correct, but fond memories are a giant hurdle to overcome in the primaries. If she gets to the general election, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Republicans will try to revive all the moral questions about the Clintons, and to be completely honest, some of those moral and ethical questions are justified. I have never cared for campaigns that want to turn back the clock. I have always been interested in progress. I don’t think that it’s true that you can’t go home again. You can, but things are certain not to be the way you remembered them. Times change, people change, and what each generation views as presidential changes too.

Links to other articles related to this topic:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2007/01/28/BL2007012800575.html

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2007/02/clinton_on_clinton.html?nav=rss_blog

Be Sociable, Share!