Among the many bonuses of advancing age, which include backache and balding, there is no greater horror than talking politics with your children and having them react as if you're Dan Quayle. It happens suddenly too. One day you're a cool populist hero who takes them to ball games and out for cheeseburgers, and the next day they're quoting Noam Chomsky and giving hourly updates on dwindling rain forests.
Jeff and Andrew Lopez, 22 and 20, and countless other young folk believe Ralph Nader would be king of the world if not for corporate-media perpetuation of nihilistic consumerism and a corrupt two-party political system. This hurts for many reasons, one being that they may be right. But the old man isn't as detached as the Trotsky twins think. Herewith, from the front lines outside the Democratic powwow in Los Angeles, a postcard from the revolution:
As the press has shown, any dope of a reporter can find three nose-ringed nitwits who don't know night from day and assail their lack of a "coherent message." This is an insult to 20-and-up rebels like those from the San Francisco-based Global Exchange, which educates and agitates on trade policy, environmental protection and campaign finance.
One day at a downtown rally, while Sandra Alvarez, 25, and her comrades ticked off a smorgasbord of corporate malfeasance, Jason Mark, 25, and three others left discreetly in two sedans, destination Hollywood. "There's going to be a party tonight for Terry McAuliffe, chief pimp of the Democratic Party fund-raising machine," says Mark, half threadbare chic and half Rat Pack cool. "It's hosted by Patton Boggs, this big law firm, so these are Public Enemies No. 1 and 2. Check out their website." (To wit: "Patton Boggs was among the first national law firms to recognize that all three branches of government could serve as forums in which to achieve client goals.")
"Corporations shouldn't run the government," Mark says with a lighted butt, stabbing cigarette burns into the body politic. Fine, but what do you gain by crashing the party? "In the short term, nothing. But you have to be in their face at every turn until you can build enough critical mass to shame them into reform."
Car No. 1 has arrived at the gated Sunset Room, a swank club. The three spooks claim they're checking on event lighting, and it works. They case the joint, come back outside and sketch a map of the inside.
Seven hours later, 25 demonstrators flash signs that include MCAULIFFE--CORPORATE PIMP. They're chanting "Shame on you" as the high rollers limo in. It's enough of a commotion that no one sees three nattily attired youngsters approach the door. That would be Mark and comrades Juliette Beck, 29, and Alli Starr, 32. With them is another youngster, Doris (Granny D) Haddock, 90, who walked clear across the country last year in the name of campaign reform. All four get flagged, but three scam their way in. Dan Quayle Dad then flashes his press pass; Starr hooks my arm as if she's my date, and we've all passed over to the other side.