The recent anniversary of the music festival Woodstock reminds me that the tenets of the hippie generation represented by that event — peace over war, love over hate, and recognition that we’re all in this life and world together — have been mostly on the rise for the last 50 years. Both political parties found some value in those messages, if not always in the same way. But now, those who oppose those views are no longer willing to accept their minority status.
A basic concept upon which our nation is based is that the majority rules, but starting about 20 or 30 years ago, it seems the minority decided to no longer accept that. They watched the way post-war America was going — in the direction of civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, etc. — and didn’t like it. By the 1990s, computers helped with their minority-status problem. They pushed the long-standing American tradition of gerrymandering to new levels of detail and manipulation to create legislative political majorities in places where they represented only a minority of the population.
Today, (with many politicians determined to roil the worst attributes of humanity — the opposites of the hippies’ message), we are poised on the edge of a very fine line in our basic democratic ideals. If the majority does not assert its voice, then the minority (angry and egged on by politicians playing to their basest sentiments) will continue to use fear to divide us and defeat the real American dream. That dream — of a better world for all — is the ultimate Woodstock legacy.
I’m Catherine Forslund, and that’s my perspective.