Thursday, April 24, 2008

“Talkin’ ’bout my generation”

From a 27-year-old reader at Andrew Sullivan's. A briliant observation, and scathing indictment of the yuppie/boomer generation and how it relates to Obama v. Clinton.
[...] It's difficult and often hyperbolic to define a generation's attitudes toward anything, let alone something as complex as voting behavior. But, I do believe this election is being driven by an Obama voting bloc that, to a certain extent, blames the anxieties that I mentioned above on our parent's generation.

No, not on our parents directly, since how could you not express affection for such an over-indulgent group of ex-hippies, but on their lack of self-discipline. They were the generation that got their wish in the 1960s with John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy. Who saw the promise of a new politics embodied in both men, and had the electoral power through sheer demographics to propel them to what would have been successful presidencies.

The promise was cut short, but that generation of baby boomers lived on as the definitive political and economic force in American politics. In the late 60s and early 70s they expressed their social power through a burgeoning cultural and political revolution. As the 70s became the 80s they began to grow into their prime earning potential, demanding tax cuts and beginning a spending spree that would fuel almost all of the economic growth of the 1990s. They were narcissistic and short-sighted; all too willing to view an ascendant, powerful America as their personal reward for being born at the right time and place...

[...] Now that it appears we've reached the limit of unrestrained consumption, they appear more than willing to take their social security checks and medicaid benefits and ride into the sunset, leaving in their wake a bankrupt, increasingly desparate younger generation. They even have the gall to claim that we're the generation of narcissists! In my mind, the struggle between Clinton and Obama lays bare this generational conflict...

This is excellent stuff, and I cannot agree more with it. The Clintons in particular are crystalline examples of this theory. They started out their journey in the right place. They got where they wanted to go. They had a chance to make their mark, but lost their way, and seemed to forget why they originally set out on the trip. And now they refuse to give up the driver's seat OR ask for directions even though they are now wandering in circles. To them it's not possible that anyone else can drive or knows where to go.
[...] The greatest dogwhistle of the Obama campaign so far is his ability to lay out this urgency to our generation. Viewed in this light, the only thing Obama has to tell me about yesterday's election is that Pennsylanvia has the second oldest population in the country. After hearing that fact, I get it. He was never going to win.

Another good point. It's the one thing I don't hear any "experts acknowledging regarding Clinton's victory. People are blaming Obama's gaffes or a failure to connect to blue collar workers, but the reality is he gained on Clinton in every possible demographic compared to Ohio. The ONLY place she is dependably beating him now is among older voters.

Can the younger generation seize the moment and deliver?


Smitty said...

To them it's not possible that anyone else can drive or knows where to go.

I love my parents. My mom and dad are responsible for the bulk of my political leanings, sense of duty to others and even how I raise my kid.

But what else I see in them is a perceptible (barely, but indeed perceptible) condescending attitude towards a political movement "they created" finally coming to fruition again after all these decades and that Clinton is the only one who can shepherd this in, because she was "there" and "part of it."

The irony is that it was a younger generation that shepherded in the first movement (Kennedy) and I think it's ours that needs this one.

Deb said...

The involvement of young voters has been fascinating to me. It proves that people who say the youth of America are apathetic are wrong. We've just never given them anything to care about in the past.

Deb said...

BTW, that comment took a LOT of thinking, because I wanted to write "people who say WE..." and I realized by being in the near-40 category, people probably aren't talking about me anymore when they're talking about the youth of America. So sad.

Eric Wilde said...

Unfortunately, older folks tend to be more dependable voters.

What's the age grouping of Indiana?

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