Ayers as a Codeword in the Culture Wars
I've been thinking about why the McCain campaign is so obsessed with William Ayers
. Why have they put so much time and effort in imputing Ayers' conduct 35+ years ago on to Obama's association with him 10+ years ago, and why is this relevant today?
The issue is that Ayers is a symbol for the Culture Wars
, the long-standing efforts by conservative Republicans to overturn many of the societial and cultural changes that came about during Vietnam and the 60s. Chief among these has been their efforts to overturn the Roe v. Wade
decision from 1973 that established that abortion was a private matter between a woman and her doctor. For McCain, Ayers is a symbol for everything that confronted him when he returned from Vietnam, for everything that had changed while he had been gone. During the last eight years, the Bush Administration has aggressively sought to undue many of the laws and reverse many of the changes made after Vietnam and Watergate. In particular, Cheney has sought to restore executive authority that he saw was unjustly diminished and constrained after Watergate. In addition, the Bush Administration has sought to undo many of the environmental laws established in the late 60s and early 70s. Ayers has become a symbol and a codeword for the Republican efforts to win, once and for all, the fight over Vietnam, abortion, and executive privilege.
There is one cultural change from the 60s that McCain and the Republicans aren't seeking to overturn. Unlike McCain, Ayers is still married to his first wife.