The voice of a generation

America stands on the brink of the third great political realignment of a century, following Franklin Roosevelt's Democratic realignment and Ronald Reagan's Republican realignment.

Whether or not he is inaugurated in January 2009, Barack Obama is the voice of a generation and the catalyst for a transformation in American politics that will open floodgates of idealism, reform and excitement that will astonish and amaze people.

The great realignment will be a progressive centrist majority that will elect a new president and Congress and be cemented by traditional Democrats, political independents seeking reform and national unity, and Chuck Hagel Republicans alienated by the abuses and hyper-partisanship of the Bush years.

2008 will ultimately be called the year of the political independent, who believe that America is not a nation of warring factions in red states and blue states, but the world’s great mosaic of diversity and democracy that we call the United States.

2008 will be the year of young people who pour into the democratic process in record numbers and put the lie to the myth that young people do not participate, when the truth is, great change occurs when the young are inspired, as they  are today.

There is a tidal wave of political independents who are largely and increasingly aligned with the views of Democrats who embody what I call Obamism, a post-partisan politics with a progressive centrist agenda for change.

There is a tidal wave of young people who now align themselves very strongly with Democrats such as Obama, who address them as serious people ready to claim their future.

There is a tidal wave of Hispanic voters who align themselves strongly and increasingly with Democrats, who support protecting our borders but do not buy the fallacy promoted by the right and repeated as false gospel by the major media: that Americans want immigration policies that are fear-ridden, reactionary and jingoistic.

The mass movement of political allegiance of independents, young people and Hispanics is the stuff that historic realignments and landslides are made of.

More than any candidate in either party, Barack Obama addresses these Americans, and in this sense he is the voice of our generation, as JFK was of his.

Recently I was a guest and co-anchor of Richard Greene’s Air America show “Clout,”  where JFK adviser and friend Ted Sorenson made his case for Obama, and compared him to JFK.

Sorenson spoke of their ability to light a flame that defines a generation, and argued for Obama’s wisdom and presidential judgment calling for direct presidential negotiations with adversaries as well as friends.
Sorenson compared Obama’s commitment to presidential-level diplomacy, for which he was criticized, to JFK’s diplomacy with Krushchev during the Cold War.

Kennedy was right; Sorenson was right; and Obama is right.

Does this mean Obama becomes president? Not necessarily.

Obama should be tested in the crucible of a campaign with many miles remaining to be traveled.  My hope is that Hillary Clinton can liberate herself from the chains of insiderism, as she has liberated herself from the chains of sexism, and rise above the maneuvering attacks, to speak of her vision, passions and dreams for America.

What would I suggest to Obama?  

Obama should offer the vice presidency to former Sen. Sam Nunn, probably the most authoritative and commanding American voice on national security,  a strong opponent of the Iraq war policy, ardent advocate of bold action against climate change, and a leading example of a New South that puts racial divisions behind us.

Obama should meet with New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Nunn, former Sen. David Boren, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and the leaders of the post-partisan national unity movement.  He should make their program his program, and their voters his voters.

Obama should state his intention to name a Republican such as Sen. Hagel as secretary of Defense, do so before Super Tuesday, and begin a crossing-over to unite the races, our people and our generation.  It is an extraordinary moment in American history, and the voice of a generation will now be heard.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Rep. Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House.  He can be reached at brentbbi@webtv.net and read on The Hill Pundits Blog.