Sixties Envy

by Robert Costa

Madison, Wis. — George F. Will once observed that the Occupy movement suffers from Sixties envy. “Imitation is the sincerest form of progressivism because nostalgia motivates progressives, not conservatives,” he wrote last year. “Tea Party Envy is leavened by Woodstock Envy — note the drum circles at the Manhattan site — which is a facet of Sixties Envy.”

As I watched the “Recall Ball” on Friday night at the Labor Temple, I was struck by how many of the younger performers and audience members openly expressed their Sixties envy — how they take their cues from Boomer leftists.

Punk rocker Tim McIlrath, the 33-year-old singer for Rise Against, was the main culprit. “My generation has a lot to learn from your generation,” he told the crowd, which featured hundreds of gray-haired AFSCME members. “My generation has a lot to learn from the protest culture of the Seventies.”

With that, McIlrath began to strum Neil Young’s “Ohio” and the older attendees roared. They may be trying to oust Governor Walker, but decades later, they’re still singing about “Nixon coming.”