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Is it 1972 All Over Again? (Spoiler: No)

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The American Democratic politician, Senator George McGovern, during his campaign to secure the Democratic Party nomination for the presidential elections. He is backed by many followers of the late Senator Robert Kennedy. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Everyone is equally an idiot when discussing electability because nobody knows what they are talking about. The stronger someone makes a claim about electability, the more they embarrass themselves, and that very much includes in LGM comment threads. You’d think that the election of Donald Trump would have killed electability arguments, but alas, they are zombies. Yet because of the 24-hour news cycle and the fact that everyone sees themselves as a pundit, these debates are just worse than ever. Now, combine with this with the fact that for Americans, both popular and political culture started in the 1950s because of the dominance of the Baby Boomers and the arrival of television and everything happening today is just like this other thing that I remember. Older popular culture now never dies. So as an example, when I was 18 years old, in 1992, that music from 1972 sure seemed old. Well, 28 years later and the music from my youth is not only very old but is also significantly older than Who’s Next was when I was a kid. And yet Who’s Next is just as relevant as ever to our popular musical culture. Well, it’s pretty much the same for politics.

But what we can say is that the one time a half-century ago that everyone wants to talk about is historically contingent on that very moment and that your takes about how it is JUST LIKE TODAY are not well thought out.

Let’s take a step back and play a game. The year in 1972. You are a Democrat and your big concern is this: “Hear me out: what if we do John Davis again, but this time we do it exactly the same as last time?”

See how stupid that sounds. And yet the 1924 election was 48 years old before 1972 and the 2020 election is 48 years after that. 1924 is as relevant to 1972 and 1972 is to 2020. But because of these popular culture/media constructions about the relatively recent past, 1972 is supposed to be extremely relevant.

Here’s the thing–if you are relying on 1972 to discuss Bernie Sanders as a nominee, you need to start paying more attention to the present while reading about the actual past instead of engaging in vapid historical narratives that are completely disconnected from both past and present.

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