Riding the bus back and forth to work, my reading today was Rick Perlstein's Nixonland. I'm into the middle of the book, a harrowing description of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, where the rage of rising expectations met the backlash of aggrieved authority. Tonight, Chicago is the scene of Senator Obama's victory celebration, and the coincidental symmetry made me wonder whether tonight's news signals the end of an era of backlash that has lasted forty years. There remain many who didn't want it to end, those who remember William Ayers bitterly when many younger people wondered who he was exactly. But that attempt to wave the bloody shirt fell short. This makes me think -- I suppose I should say hope -- that the battles begun in the 60s are finally over.
I don't know if the new era will differ that much from the old one. Frankly, I don't expect much, but I do suspect that there will be a new era, now that things that couldn't be have come to be. Everybody ought to look at politics a little differently after this night and after this year. A great battle of the "culture war" is over. As a result, some armies may disband, and new armies may form. As John Dryden wrote, 'Tis well an old age is out/And time to begin anew.