Why the 1968 Revolution Has Become Normalized: A Thought Experiment Reply

Many older people, or those familiar with Western political history in the 20th century, will remember that 1968, exactly half a century ago, was a revolutionary year in the sense of uprisings that occurred throughout the Western world (and elsewhere). A brief summary can be found here.

The three most significant forces that were associated with the 1960s upheavals were the anti-Vietnam War movement, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution. Let’s try this thought experiment. Let’s say we could travel back in time and inform a New Left activist (say a protestor at the 1968 Democratic Convention) of what the world of 50 years later was going to be like. What would we say?

-The Cold War would eventually end, as would the arms race between the USA and USSR. In fact, the USSR itself would end, and the former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact nations would become (mostly) liberal democracies, with China becoming the leading international financier of America’s public debt, and America becoming China’s major export market.

-The US would withdraw from Vietnam five years later. The draft would end the same year, never to return for 45 years. Imperialist war would be delegitimized to the point where mainstream Americans would not accept war if there are any significant levels of casualties on their side. The state would be relegated to fighting wars with limited troop engagements, proxy armies, mercenaries, and technology, while losing half a dozen wars in a row.

-The US would have elected its first African-American president, Martin Luther King would be an iconic national figure akin to George Washington, and racism would be as much of a social taboo as Communism 50 years ago.

-A woman would win the popular vote in a presidential election. A quarter of the House of Representatives would be women, as would a third of the Supreme Court, with the appointment of two male Supreme Court Justices nearly being derailed by allegations of sexual harassment or assault.

-In 1973, abortion would be legalized nationwide by the Supreme Courts. Homosexuality would be legalized nationwide in 2003, and gay marriage would be declared legal in all 50 states by the Supreme Court in 2015.

-Ten states plus D.C. would have legalized recreational marijuana, and 23 states would have legalized medical marijuana.

-In 2018, there would be a Republican President that is married to a Playboy model, hangs out with porn actresses (porn was largely illegal in the 1960s), African-American rap singers (there was no rap music in the 1960s), and Hollywood sex tape mavens (Kim Kardashian would have been considered the equivalent of Linda Lovelace back then). A Republican President that has no problem with allowing states to legalize marijuana or the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage (imagine LBJ or Nixon saying that). A Republican President whose biggest fans are the types of folks who would have been Wallace voters in 1968s, and whose biggest supporters have been the sons of Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell. The Trump presidency is like Hugh Hefner getting elected President in 1968 with the backing of George Wallace voters, Billy Graham, and Billy James Hargis.

In short, liberals should stop with the bellyaching. They won!

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