Generation O

So many have already circulated this wacky but uncannily profound piece by Sarah Silverman that Kmer Rouge bloggers have probably already started showcasing it. I want to use it to make a sober, hopeful point in advance of tonight's debate and while Obama is slightly ahead in most polls. In my piece "Obama's Jews" (in the current Harper's), I report that Obama is leading among young people in general (18-29 years old) by some 25 percent. The various pollsters I've talked with put it simply to me: if young people come out in large numbers, Obama can't lose; if not, he may not win, for all the "cultural" reasons and divisions we have analyzed to death since 2000.

Silverman's gag, in other words, is not merely about Jews in Boca. It identifies the hinge of this election and a sweeping generational shift. Young people, Toto, are not in Kansas anymore. The polls also suggests why we should assume good news no matter what happens in November. For the Obama campaign has all the trappings of a movement: progressive domestically, multi-lateral internationally, and truthful, not truthy, in its organization. If he loses in 2008, he will win in 2012. The country's problems will, in any case, take a generation to get serious about.