Letter: Triumphalism Trivializes Democratic Change

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Orange County is where the blue wave made landfall. Voters of all political affiliation who voted for winning candidates earned the right to celebrate. But divided government means Democrats -must govern, not just resist Republican one-party rule. We all hope both parties will perform better than in our last decade.

The historical moment was blurred by the notion espoused in an Indy reader’s comments that lyrics in Bob Dylan’s 1964 civil rights anthem, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” somehow were a “prophetic” prediction of Democratic Party success in the 2018 OC midterm election. Those of us who took social and even physical risks demonstrating for Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in the 1960s know better.

Indeed, those of us who saw Dylan perform that song know he loathes hearing people interpret his songs. “Day of the Locusts” was Dylan’s revenge on Ivy League elitists and others hijacking his literary legacy.

Next generation Americans should know Dylan’s songs stirred the national conscience in the 1960s when Democratic Party leaders controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress. Intoxicated by decades of one-party rule, Democrats presided over military conscription laws discriminating against the poor and racial minorities.

Democratic leaders were caught red-handed in official lies denying U.S. national security policy was failing in Vietnam, a war the majority of Americans eventually opposed. Under two Democratic presidents (JFK and LBJ) the U.S. pursued a no-win military strategy, ultimately costing over 58,000 American lives, most under the age of 21, 10 times more than the War on Terrorism.

In 1964, opposition in the Democratic Party to civil rights was still blocking legislation ending institutionalized racial segregation. President Johnson acknowledged the historic 1965 Civil Rights Act was made possible with the support of Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen.

It’s historical revisionism to even imply Dylan’s 1964 song is about success of the Democratic Party in 1964, much less 2018. Also, Democrats lost far more seats in 1994 and 2010 mid-terms, under Clinton and Obama, respectively. OC and California may well have fallen under San Francisco-based one-party rule, but clearly the nation has not yet embraced the new California paradigm.

Dylan’s timeless song affirmed the times are always changing in America, because the Constitution empowers people to reward success and punish failure, so what government does right is sustained, what’s wrong is corrected. Anyone thinking one party has a monopoly on right or wrong should listen to a few other Dylan songs, starting with “Idiot Wind,” “Slow Train Coming” and “As I Went Out One Morning.”

 

Howard Hills, Laguna Beach

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