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Amoral Majority

February 25, 2005
By Travis Charbeneau

It's February 16, 1999, and conservative activist Paul Weyrich, the man who coined "Moral Majority," is fed up. In a "Letter on the Moral Minority in America" he advocates quitting politics. This famous elegy is still archived at conservative Newsmax.com:

We got our people elected. But that did not result in the adoption of our agenda. ... politics itself has failed ... because of the collapse of the culture. If there really were a moral majority out there, Bill Clinton would have been driven out of office months ago. I believe that we probably have lost the culture war.

As though in confirmation, right across from this lament at 2-21-05's Newsmax.com, a sidebar ad exclaims, "Man - OH - Man, more Power in Bed With this powerful formula!"

But the Weyrich archive brightens throughout the early Bush years, and by November 8, 2004, we find: "God is indeed a Republican."

Or did Weyrich nail it in '99? Some argued in the Sixties that any "revolution" was already over and won on the only front that really mattered: culture. A post-war, post-industrial shift in consciousness that began with the Beats had not looked back. As Shelley maintained, poets were "the unacknowledged legislators of the world."

Our modern poets, musicians, and myth-makers, in academia, the media and Internet have "legislated" American culture, of which politics is only a part. And, while fundamentalists east and west may hate it, the pipers call the tune. Happily for me, I like the tune. You can dance to it. I give it an 88.

Like many boomers, I came of age chafing under the repressive, hypocritical conformity of the Fifties and early Sixties. We were urged by the nation's founding documents, teachers, parents, churches, to "realize your full potential" so you could become a wage slave at the military-industrial complex of your choice, helping to prevent third-world peoples and women from exercising theirs.

But, naively accepting "full potential" at face value, my fellow-chafers and I set forth to establish truth, justice and the American Way as we saw it. A main timber in our anti-Puritanical party plank: your right to party! And darned if that didn't appeal even to Young Republicans and others to whom napalmed children meant little.

The hippie exhortation to relish daily experience found a hedonistic chink in the armor of young conservatives, turning them into today's "socially liberal" Republicans. Those hard-partying Bush girls. Daughter Cheney's inconvenient "lifestyle choice." Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Quality of life, or plain old "fun," is the aspect of change Weyrich and others most despise because it opens the way for a powerful, revolutionary lever: tolerance. With tolerance, all things are possible. Even "more power in bed with this powerful formula!"

During the Sixties, our comrades on the New Left denounced "cultural revolution." They called culture warriors hippies, dropouts, esthetes, politically unreliable. They insisted on direct action and produced the Weather Underground, a few acts of vandalism and at least one spectacular armed robbery.

We called them violence-enthralled party-poopers. Inside-out Puritans. We wanted the revolution of individual consciousness sung by working class hero John Lennon. Lennon pronounced 1970 "Year One" in his new revolutionary calendar, and, indeed, by 1970 it is possible that enough people had enough "raised consciousness" that a critical mass existed. Since then, both by slow osmosis and abrupt chain reaction, we have changed the world - or wrecked it, depending on your point of view.

Again, any plan to change the world by changing minds was universally dismissed as flower child pap. But politics, for all its noise and pretension, can't help being driven by culture. Culture spoke louder than politics even in the Reagan Era, with its failed promise, much to Weyrich's disgust, to roll back counter-cultural contaminations.

Even then, the majority of Americans were little better than weekend hippies, dutifully showing up for work, voting for the Gipper's PR machine, telling the kids "just say no"; furtively smoking pot, watching porn, arranging for the occasional abortion. And going to church on Sundays trying to make sense of it all.

But, of course, "it" makes no sense. The materialistic American Dream can't deliver in the pursuit of happiness. Nor can a reactionary political spasm that re-elects a born-again fraud with a one percent "mandate." Culture is legislated by poets, not by politicians and their various deities. Especially for Generation X, vile Boomer spawn; aka "the Future."

Like many of their boomer elders, Gen-X rots from within by what, in any other context, would be termed Christian charity, loath to cast the first stone on adultery, abortion or gay marriage. It's that tolerance thing again, prompting the thoughtful to consider: "there but for the grace of God..."

That sort of thing can lead to an open mind, even a doubt that God is indeed a Republican.

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