Democrats & Liberals Archives

No Teen Spirit

Danny Goldberg, a manager, PR guy and recording label chief, is interviewed by Salon for his book, “Dispatches From the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit.” In the interview (and I assume his book) he makes two very interesting arguments about the Democrats and popular culture:

1. Dems like Joseph Lieberman have driven away a big constituency by attacking hip-hop music, video games, TV and Hollywood. But, they can’t do anything to change the popular culture (and why should they want to), so they should use it. It’s been pointed out that you have a good segment of popular artisans being anti-war, but the Democrats take offense to their use of four letter words.

2. The Democrats have failed to express a moral philosophy, instead entrenching themselves in fairly esoteric policy issues instead of a clear cut ideology. As Goldberg says in the interview:

I don't know why they [the left] can't talk about a moral conception of politics. I do think younger people want an idealistic framework for their politics, and the conservatives have been really good at creating an idealistic concept behind everything they do. I don't agree with any of it, but they have a philosophy you can understand. Even people who don't benefit from a tax cut feel that there's a moral concept behind the idea of what taxes should be, and that's why they support it. It's not that they're stupid. They buy into a moral philosophy that the conservatives express. Our guys don't express a moral philosophy.

And this may translate directly to the polls: "in 1996, Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by 19 points among voters under 24. In 2000, George W. Bush and Gore were dead even in that age group, a total of about 9 million votes."

To view the Salon articles (interview, book excerpt) you either need to be a paying premium member, or willing to watch a 15 second Macromedia Flash ad.

Posted by Ry Rivard at June 20, 2003 8:33 PM