By Art Hyland
Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Ev’ry way you look at it, you lose
Hey, hey, hey, the song, Mrs. Robinson, is now FORTY-FIVE years old.
Well, enough about disappearing decades for those in the Baby Boomer generation. But what about the lines from the song, how were they heard by people back then? And since then. Never mind that Paul Simon’s lyrics were originally written about Mrs. Roosevelt; no one knew that then, nor most now. (Simon purportedly said he was asked by the director of The Graduate to do a song, and he chose one he had already made and the name Robinson worked musically–same number of syllables– and close enough in meaning for the movie song.)
I submit that the Boomer generation (including in Great Britain), via its music and entertainment culture, incredibly altered its own generation and several that followed by shaping an attitude about politics as something beneath what it had been in this country’s history. And this great, popular song, perhaps more symbolic than any other, helped to solidify attitudes about politics then, and in the 45 years since it was created. The next lines were:
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio
A nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you…
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away
The song became popular in 1968; and of course, like any popular song, especially one by a rising duo like Simon and Garfunkel, remained very popular for many years that followed. Concurrently, home and car audio fidelity was making huge gains, which experience alone was enough for music to be played repeatedly.
What this song consciously and unconsciously helped establish was first of all to carve into our 60s and 70s culture the degradation of politics by mocking presidential debates as having no choices except losing ones (Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey were the 1968 candidates– while presumed Democrat nominee Robert Kennedy had been killed during the primary). And secondly, it told us to yearn for the greatness of a recent past, using a living baseball hero as a prop for how we should want to have a real leader to lead us, a strong, mythical personality, someone for President who didn’t exist then and never will.
For the Left, Robert Kennedy became that person, but he had “left and gone away.” His death made him a liberal martyr who became that mythical someone who would have been “perfect” if only he had lived. Liberals searched for that perfect one for years–Clinton came close, and was tagged the first Black president in an effort to establish his perfect status– but only in 2008 did liberal presidential perfection come via Chicago. The One was born, some say in Kenya, others Hawaii, but he came nevertheless, to save the earth and our nation. Dreams came true for those who prayed, in an ironic twist of the secular Left copying the religious Right.
If you allow for an extension of this 45 year theme whereby conservatives generally opted out of politics and liberals did the opposite, it helps to explain the continued growth of liberalism and bigger government, because conservatives by and large took it to heart that politics are for losers, and left the field to liberals, who to this day–and Barack Obama personifies this–feel they are the ones to lead the nation to Nirvana. Of course, a major exception was Ronald Reagan, who for eight years successfully paused the relentless growth of liberalism in America, but even a Reagan couldn’t stop the culture from wanting to find an answer to all its woes in government. Despite his warnings that government isn’t the answer to the problem, that government IS the problem, his influence was temporary, and the beat continued on. Reagan was indeed a political hero, not unlike DiMaggio, except he was conservative, and to a secular, liberal culture dominated by Hollywood and a big government media, he was disqualified despite being highly successful.
Liberals who entered politics all dreamed of becoming the Joe DiMaggio for their time and place, whether a mayor or a presidential candidate. In general, liberals began to think that government needs to lead people to better lives by telling them what they can and can’t do, and moreover, what they should or shouldn’t do. They’ve usurped religion by making government into one. It was and is a cultural movement that ignored the Constitution which was deemed to have a fatal characteristic of being very old, and written by dead white men, which fact became a cause celeb to mock in and of itself. Besides, that relic of a document never made it to the Top Ten. In today’s vernacular, it just isn’t Trending. And why would it? It specifically limits government, and that’s just not modern enough for a liberal, secular world where information, knowledge and authority rests with the chosen, earthly few.
Wind-testing politicians were thus bred and born for generations to come. And they’re still with us. No better example of one is none other than (Joltin’) Joe Biden, the laugh and gaffe machine for Democrats of all ages. His display of same at the vice-presidential debate was classic liberal. Figure out which way the popular culture is thinking about things, and sure enough, there will be politicians like Biden ready to articulate exactly where their people are going. You want more from government, I’ll give it to you. You don’t trust corporations, I’m you’re man. You’re a minority who thinks you’ve been screwed, I’ll fight for you by giving you beads and trinkets in exchange for a simple little thing called a vote. Won’t cost you a thing either. Debt, deficits, recession? We’ll fix it, we know everything there is to know, trust me.
For conservatives, the 2012 election represents perhaps the last chance to stop the liberal, fiscal train wreck from destroying this nation. They realized they left politics to others for decades, while passively allowing the federal government to metastasize into a fiscal (and social) monster, out of control and totally out of money. Mitt Romney, a businessman much more than a politician, suddenly stands as their spokesman, one who gravitates toward a nation as it used to be–like when his father was Michigan governor– allowing individuals and companies to be successful so that the government can be successful. Conservatives never believed in a political Joe DiMaggio because they know that the nation can only be the success it was and can be again, by allowing its 380 million citizens to make their billions of individual decisions themselves. They are praying both that Mr. Romney wins this election and that he truly believes as they do, that Washington D.C. can never own the wisdom of that collective power, or of the power of their spiritual belief.
And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
(Hey, hey, hey…hey, hey, hey).
It’s too bad liberals who listened to and loved this song never heard these lines.