Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pity The Poor Boomers

Pity the poor boomers being bought down by McCain
And pity for the boomers being threatened once again
Bought low by generation X and a gen that has no name
The boomers have the numbers but they still can’t play the game
(To a confusion of half remembered melodies from the John Wesley Harding album – Bob Dylan 1967)

It was another asinine headline - Next week the Boomers go bust – in a generally vacuous media coverage. The thrust being that whoever wins boomers lose, as McCain is pre-boomer and Obama post-boomer.

First up, let me take issue with the modern definition of a baby-boomer - born between 1946 and 1964. This construct only arose to fill the vacuum between the real extremities, 1945 – 1950 and the later gen X. Real boomers, of which I am one, are barely half a decade of procreation.

We are nothing more than the product of the pent up deprivations of wartime. It was the greatest ‘love in’ in history and the only thing that really distinguishes we true boomers is numbers.

Next let me say that many of us have utmost respect for certain of previous generations and are generally proud of our progeny, aforementioned gen X. But I still confess not to understand why we boomers are constantly vilified and envied. Numerical superiority does not imply any special attributes.

Sadly most of the traders responsible for the current global meltdown, not to mention a growing number of commentators and journalists, don’t even need a razor in their bathroom cabinet. At least boomers would bring a sense of history and experience to moderate youthful exuberance.


abi said...

I've always resented that our generation has been so resented. I think the previous generation resented us for having so much while they grew up having so little. And the next generations resented us because of our sheer numbers, knowing they'd have to support us someday - and that day is now.

But I also think we're resented because we are so identified with the 60s. Yes, we were right about a lot of things, but let's face it - we were obnoxious about it.

CampaignTrailer said...

Interesting post. Relevantly, as many prominent experts have noted, Obama is a member of Generation Jones–born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and GenXers.

Here's a recent 5 minute GenJones video features many top pundits (including David Brooks, Clarence Page, Dick Morris, Juan Williams, Karen Tumulty, Howard Wolfson, Michael Barone, etc.) specifically talking about Obama (and Palin’s) membership in Generation Jones, as well as the surprisingly big role that GenJones is now playing in this election, video is at top of this page:

Kvatch said...

Well... As the guy that straddles the cusp of Boomer/GenX (at least using the broader '45 - '64 definition), I have to say that I don't feel much like a member of either generation. I don't remember anything about the 60's. My first political memory is of the Senate hearings that lead up to Nixon's resignation. I don't remember Vietnam. I've never known job security, and don't believe in Social Security.

I was raised with boomer sensibilities and thrown into an X'er world. Am I a member of 'Gen. Jones'? If so, then how come I can't identify with Obama?

It's a conundrum...

Cart said...

Abi, resented is an interesting word here; clearly I resented the mis-assigning of the latter ‘boomer’ (Jones) group.
CT, welcome and thank you for the GenJones stuff. Only in America where everything must be put in a box. But that Vid and my young cobber, Kvatch, flash a lot of light onto the issue.
I was an age, even here in Australia, to be excited by the Kennedy’s and King, and heartbroken by their death. Those were very personal experiences and the responses are still welded onto my being. I was politically active by the mid 60s, dismissive of the light-weight hippies but wholly engaged in social liberal issues, like ensuring Aborigines should be constitutionally recognised as people.
In short, I was of an age to engage with a swag full of profound social/political events. For all that, I easily recognised Obama’s potential while he was positioning during the 06 mid terms, perhaps because of those formative experiences.

D.K. Raed said...

well I came on the scene right in the thick of boomerdom. the maternity wards were so full, they had to put our bassinettes out in the hospital hallways. our schools were so crowded, one-on-one time with the teachers was unheard of. is it any wonder we strove so hard for separate identities from previous generations? and isn't it a shame that for all our quest for individualism, so many of us ended up being group-thinkers?

I am abashed to think that when my generation's time at bat came, the best we could throw up the presidential ladder was Bill Clinton and Geo W Bush. So I willingly pass the torch to Obama. May his generation (whatever you want to call it; I had never heard of Generation Jones) have better success than we did. Just don't mess with my social security! Hrmphhh!

Cart said...

DK, you sent me off questing with your individuals – to Monty Python’s Life of Brian:
Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't need to follow me, you don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all individuals!
The Crowd (in unison): Yes! We're all individuals!
Brian: You're all different!
The Crowd (in unison): Yes, we are all different!
Man in Crowd: I'm not...
The Crowd: Shhh!

Australia hasn’t had a boomer leader, unless it was a family of kangaroos of course. Current PM is a GenJones and the former was Jurassic.

D.K. Raed said...

LOL, "yes we are ALL different!"

re your excellent Dylanesque riff "pity the poor boomers being brought down by McCain" ... well, we will NOT be brought down by him if he remains a senator. Oh sure, he will keep trying to privitize our social security and raise our taxes so he can lower taxes on the wealthy & subsidize wall street fatcats who don't think their money should really be at risk, but we will tune him out!

Now as far as generational war goes, that is why we need a realistic assisted suicide law! ooooh, too dark?

lindsaylobe said...

I tend to agree; Boomers are popularly maligned as a generation of ‘me too’ swinging hippies when only a very tiny slither even came close to resembling such a label.

Enthusiastic 20 + years journalists still "wet between the ears" applied the labels under the ruse of relative post modernism without the need to gather any empirical evidence.

Best wishes

Cart said...

Thanks Lindsay. Given that you are from the last great unnamed generation I greatly appreciate your comments. Well, I usually do, so a special thank you.