Political Upheaval, Yesterday and Today

The political upheaval in the 1960s and ’70s had similarities to what we are seeing today. There also were major differences. NOW They Make it Legal: Reflections of an Aging Baby Boomer devotes attention to the political unrest, mostly among young people, over the Vietnam War. The frustration back then had to do with young people protesting a war on the other side of the globe that we didn’t want to be involuntarily drafted to fight and die in. I don’t know what young people are most frustrated about today, but it’s good to see them taking an interest in politics again.

Seeing liberal students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison rallying around Bernie Sanders and spearheading his upset in the Wisconsin primary recently made this Baby Boomer wax nostalgic. In NOW They Make it Legal, I describe cutting my political teeth at Madison in the 1970s. My first week on campus I participated in a protest when Ford pardoned Nixon that ended with an American flag being burned on the Capital steps, the remnants of which ended up on my dorm room wall. As a journalism student, I covered the 1976 election between Ford and Carter, which also was the first election I voted in.

I make a number of observations in NOW They Make it Legal, which was written before the current presidential race, that have found new relevance in today’s campaign. I’ll report more on these in the coming months.