Excerpt from “Caring About Politics” by David Brooks and Gail Collins, New York Times, July 11, 2012
David Brooks: I was going through the decades of the 20th century to try to see which of them were primarily political decades. That is to say, was the most important thing that happened that decade political or not? In at least half the decades, politics was the most important thing that happened, though to be fair in the happier decades politics took a back seat. I think this vindicates my feeling that anybody who is not paying close attention [to politics] is not paying attention to the one of the main arenas of life in their time.
You can try to ignore politics, but it won’t ignore you.
My results follow:
1900s — Industrialization. Not Political.
1910s — World War I. Political.
1920s — Consumer culture and beginning of mass prosperity. Not Political.
1930s — The New Deal. Political.
1940s — World War II. Political.
1950s — Suburbanization. Not Political.
1960s — New Frontier, Civil Rights, Vietnam. Political.
1970s — Feminism. Not Political.
1980s — Reagan Revolution. Capitalist Revival. Semi-Political.
1990s — Silicon Valley. Not Political.
2000s — 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. Political.