Monday, November 7, 2016

In the Sunset of the Baby Boomers' Generation, Election Reawakens an Old Divide

I'm a boomer, born on the tail end of the generation, in the early 1960s.

At the New York Times:

They came of age in the 1960s and ’70s, in the traumatic aftermath of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They fought and protested a war together, argued over Nixon and Kissinger together, laughed at Archie Bunker together. As children, they practiced air-raid drills; as adults, they cheered the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In the 1990s, they saw one of their own become president, watching him gain glory as one of the most gifted politicians of his time, but also infamy as one of its most self-indulgent — a poster child for the Me Generation.

They are of course the baby boomers, the collective offspring of the most fertile period in American history. At 75 million strong, they have been the most dominant force in American life for three decades, and one of its most maligned. Enlightened but self-centered, introspective but reckless, they are known among the cohorts that followed them — and even to some boomers themselves — as the generation that failed to live up to its lofty ideals, but still held fast to its sense of superiority.

If Bill Clinton was their white-haired id, Hillary Clinton is their superego in a pantsuit. A second Clinton presidency could represent a last hurrah for the baby boomers. But it could also offer a shot at a kind of generational redemption.

“There is a kind of do-over quality to it,” said Landon Y. Jones, the author of the 1980 book “Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation.” “This is their last chance to get it right.”

A shared history binds the boomers — as do, broadly speaking, some shared traits. Their parents suffered through the Depression and World War II before rearing them in the most prosperous society the world had ever seen. Inevitably, perhaps, they were guided by two polestars: responsibility and entitlement.

Those dueling impulses powered the rise of both Clintons: one impulse galvanizing supporters who deeply admired their commitment to public service, the other galling critics who saw them as playing by their own rules...
Well, if the Clintons are going to be representative of the boomers, I think it's time to pass the baton.

Frankly, even Obama's a better representative, at least in terms of family values. He does seem like he's kept and raised a nice family, which is not true for the Clintons.