Retaliate for '68

Steve Novick

Despite my personal, admittedly twisted, and not very serious admiration for Richard Nixon, I have to admit that 1968 was a doom-laden watershed year in American politics. As Bill Clinton has written, 1968 was "the year that broke open the nation and shattered the Democratic Party; the year that conservative populism replaced progressive populism as the dominant political force in our nation; the year that law and order and strength became the province of Republicans, and Democrats became associated with chaos, weakness, and out-of-touch, self-indulgent elites; the year that led to Nixon, then Reagan, then Gingrich, then George W. Bush. The middle-class backlash would shape and distort American politics for the rest of the century."

But now, my friends, our long national nightmare is over. Thirty-eight years of progressive dominance is in the offing -- thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals.

As the Oregonian's Ryan White was kind enough to note in his blog before Game 5, in 1968, the Detroit Tigers came back from a 3-1 Series deficit to beat Bob Gibson's Cardinals. This year, the Cardinals beat the Tigers, taking the same 3-1 lead but then winning Game 5, giving America its first real World Series champion since 1990. (By "real," I mean: a National League team (i.e., no designated hitter) from one of the original National League cities.)

The gods have spoken. Their meaning is clear. The curse of what has been called the Year of the Locust is lifted. To quote the sign waved by one historically-minded Cardinal fan last Friday, it is time to "Retaliate for '68."

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    Okay, Steve, enough is enough. I lost money betting on the Cardinals in 1968, and as a sophomore in high school, that really hurt. It didn't even help much that my hero, Bob Gibson, lost the seventh game to a Portlander, Mickey Lolich (thankfully, not Denny McLain).

    The memory of that series, and the blown 3 games to 1 lead, haunted me throughout game five this year--and now you're trying to undermine my feelings of vindication with a crass political analysis.

    Is nothing sacred?

  • Mark Kirchmeier (unverified)

    Steve, I hope Slabtown/Northwest PDX native son Mickey Lolich, the best overweight athlete in the history of American sports, gets a dispensation from your curse. Mickey beat the Cards winning three World Series games.


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    Steve, this is a tough one for a Dodgers fan. i can't stand the Cardinals, but i admit, the last time the Dodgers won, so did George I. i guess the answer is to have the Boys in Blue win in off-years (1981, embarrassed the Yanks) and let someone else have it every 4 years or so. better to lose in the playoffs than elect Rs.

    god, this is hard!

    t.a., bleeding Dodgers blue forever

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    I thought the Red Sox victories over the Yankees and Cardinals were positive omens for Kerry in 2004. After all, they were a team from MA, whose management, including John W. Henry and Theo Epstein, supported John Kerry (even if Curt Schilling supported Bush). The Yankees, on the other hand, are owned by George Steinbrenner, who supported Bush and gave the max to him. Alex Rodriguez, likewise, gave the max to Bush.

    I hope you are right about the Cardinals in 2006...


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    Baby boomers wonder why Gen X was so dour and disaffected, and this post is a fine place to start. I was actually born in 1968, and I agree with Steve--that was the moment we exited the great progressive era of American politics. Every election since, we've swung further right. We were born into a grim period of cold-war politics, during the Vietnam war, delivered unto the raving cyncism of Tricky Dick. We had Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis, and Reagan's nuclear saber-rattling all before we hit teendom. I recall regretting that I'd never be able to drive because we'd all be nuked be I got old enough.

    I try to balance my optimism and cynicism, but I keep waiting for that pendulum to swing, and have been waiting since 1984, and it does--further and further right. May you be a prophet, Steve, may the period of my cynicism be over, and may this finally be the year.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    I'm ready! 1968 was the year of the Tet offensive, the year that Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were murdered. Our best hopes died with them and the Chicago convention, and the election of Nixon. I'm ready for hope. Suffering is a teacher and a new time may be at hand for an America that aspires to treat itself and the rest of humankind with dignity and kindness. The America with ambitions of empire is dying with the Bush regime and its failures.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)

    "I recall regretting that I'd never be able to drive because we'd all be nuked be I got old enough."

    Really? You spent your childhood obsessing over nuclear armageddon? Sorry to hear that, but I never could fully relate to you goth kids.

    Amusing sports-related superstitions aside, the real answer is quite clear. Keep running weak kneed, far left-of-center candidates and Democrats will lose most every time. See Humphrey, McGovern, Mondale, etc. A hardcore "liberal progressive" agenda simply doesnt resonate with middle America.

  • Sugarcandymountain (unverified)

    Hey, talking about Nixonian type comebacks, whatever happened with that Draft Gore rally?

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    Really? You spent your childhood obsessing over nuclear armageddon? Sorry to hear that, but I never could fully relate to you goth kids.

    I did, when I wasn't hunting or fishing in Western Idaho, where I grew up. Who's the goth kid, or were you just projecting?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    '68 was the year, but my analysis is a bit different than Bill Clinton's. That was the year the US elite [the real elite, the super rich] gave up on the American Dream. They decided that racial equality, good jobs, and a well educated middle class were not in their interest. They had King killed, and Kennedy. They decided they didn't want to pay taxes anymore, so they funded right-wing thinktanks, right-wing publications, and right-wing politicians.

    We got privitization, outsourcing, underfunded schools, lack of affordable health care, predatory lending, and God in government. They got even richer, thanks to the many tax cuts their lapdog politicians voted them.

    <h2>I hope Steve is correct, but I'm afraid it's going to take more than a World Series to make permanent change. Let's talk when the top income tax bracket is over 60%.</h2>

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