Boomers’ End

I’m sure many people have already made this point elsewhere, but I was thinking tonight about how the Dem race has been a bit of a shadow boxing match between this country’s history with racism and it’s history with the treatment of women.  There’s really no way to avoid that subtext, although I think it would be dangerous to draw sweeping conclusions from any outcome, simply because this race is so much about the specific personalities and histories of Obama and HRC.

I thought ahead a bit tonight about what an Obama/McCain matchup would look like.  There is a history between the two; I don’t know many of the details but the essential gist is that McCain was put off by Obama’s fast ascension in the Senate, and the two do not have a cozy relationship.  McCain resents Obama for not paying his dues, more or less.

It will not take long for the narrative of an Obama/McCain race to become Gen X overtaking the Baby Boomers as the dominant force in American culture and politics.  While McCain himself is technically not a Baby Boomer, he certainly represents the values of that generation and is a formative product of it.  An election win for Obama would be spun as a passing of the torch to the next generation of power in America.  The ironic part about that is that Obama himself is a Baby Boomer, having been born in 1961.   But like McCain, Obama represents the values of the generation that immediately followed his own.

The biggest place we see the change is in the worldviews the two men bring.  Obama’s is a more multicultural focus, not to mention his personal history.  McCain’s narrative is more traditional, given his status as a war hero, and more particularly the fact that his identity is forged by his wartime experiences.  The context of John McCain is very much the context of the Baby Boomers.  The world was shaped by the U.S. in hard-fought battles, and the U.S. then reaped the benefits of superpower status as the world followed the U.S.

The context of Barack Obama is that the world is bigger than the U.S., and the world doesn’t have to or necessarily want to follow the U.S., and rather than try to impose the same order, we should forge ahead to find our place in the new one.

That narrative’s going to hit us all smack in the face.  Even as the largest generation in U.S. history gradually moves off the scene, there will only be a few watershed moments where we realize so vividly that it’s happening.

November 2008 will be one of the first.

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11 Responses to Boomers’ End

  1. ElectionGuy2008 says:

    This is a thought-provoking post. But you should be aware that there is a growing consensus in the media, and among experts, that Obama is not a Boomer, nor an Xer, but instead is a member of Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, the heretofore lost generation between the Boomers and Xers).Just in the last month or so, several top media outlets, including The New York Times, Newsweek Magazine, and NBC, have all made the argument that Obama is specifically part of Generation Jones. I also heard a panel of generations experts recently on a national radio show discussing this specific issue, and four of the five experts concluded overwhelmingly that Babrack is obviously a Joneser (the one dissenting expert felt that Obama is a Boomer)

  2. pipelineblog says:

    Thanks, Election Guy2008. I have to admit that I’ve either never heard of Generation Jones prior to your post, or heard about it at a particular time when I wasn’t paying particular attention to generational typology. Are they the same as the “Late Boomers”?

    So, people between the ages of 44 and 54 today are Jonesers.

  3. steim says:

    How does one become a Generation Expert?

  4. kelly says:

    Is that a reference to John Paul Jones, Jim Jones, or the Joneses?

    There are some crazy ass things that are going to happen to this country as the boomers fade from the scene. If its not defining the presidential candidates, it will certainly define their presidency.

    I can rattle off about 20 things that I think will be challenges. The biggest is the economic impact of the country’s senior management leaving while simultaneously putting their retirement/investment capital into less aggressive investments hello CD’s and Bonds, goodbye diversified growth stock investments. In no small part, they are the engine that grew us into being an economic powerhouse, and whoever steps into this lead role better well prepare us for it.

    On the brighter side, I bet medical care system is about to be rocked and retooled.

  5. Jeff H says:

    I think you become a Generation Expert by referring to yourself as such. Or by expertly generating something in large quantities. For example, something like this (from the Generation Jones entry in Wikipedia):

    “In the business world, Generation Jones has become a part of the strategic planning of many companies and industries, particularly in the context of targeting Jonesers through marketing efforts.” Without Wikipedia, I never would have known that people in their 40s and 50s have become part of the strategic planning of many (not just several, mind you) companies and industries.

  6. pipelineblog says:

    Which also explains the staggering popularity of Jones Soda.

    Jane and I were making fun of Generation Y because they couldn’t even come up with their own cool-sounding generation name and had to steal it from Generation X. Then we made fun of the New Silent Generation (1996-present) for stealing their name from the original Silent Generation, and also for being silent. But in their defense, as Jane pointed out, they are only 12 years old to date and will probably come up with a better name as they learn more.

    I nominate the OMGG!

  7. MrFares says:

    Am I Jonesing yet? Did they have a separate set of favorite TV shows that we have to see made into movies or did they also watch a bunch of Gilligan’s Island and Brady Bunch re-runs just like the boomers and gen x?

  8. Jeff H says:

    In related news, I have identified the existence of a “lost integer” between 4 and 6. Since “Jones” is taken, I’m going to call it “Five.”

  9. Jeff H says:

    No, wait. “Burt.”

  10. pipelineblog says:

    Friend of Pipeline RhondaDBI is a Baby Boomer by 11 days; something her younger Gen X friends (me and Jane) gave her shit about tonight. She embraced Generation Jones as an alternative label to Baby Boomer, however.

  11. Nathan D says:

    I am not a generation, I am a human being!

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