Andrew Sullivan made an interesting point in his Atlantic article on Barack Obama–well, interesting to me, at any rate. He pointed out that while Obama is technically a Baby Boomer–he was born in 1961–he is not a classic Boomer.
I have long maintained that the argument that the Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are a monolithic mass with similar views is completely bogus. A person such as Obama, or myself, has very little in common with someone born in the late 40s who went to college in the 60s. While women were burning bras, students were marching, and folks were dropping acid in the Haight and listening to Jefferson Airplane, folks born between, say, 1958 and 1966, were watching Scooby Doo and the Brady Bunch and going to elementary school.
There is a huge gulf between folks like me, and folks like Clinton. My Mom–born in 1943 and technically not a Boomer, has a lot more in common with Boomers than I do. Or Obama.
Boomers were out in the forefront of a lot of issues and causes that were incredibly important and highly controversial in their time. Civil rights. Gay rights. Women’s rights. The Vietnam war. But Boomers can also be incredibly self-interested, to the point of not even believing that other generations before them did the same things they did, or had similar observations. Other generations didn’t have their insights into how to be married, or raise children, or balance work and home, or anything. They need to share (or inflict) their brilliant observations and deductions on us all!
There’s a reason why Steve Wozniak’s music festivals were called the “Us” festival.
In any event, Obama is not a Boomer. My generation has always been overlooked, to the point where we don’t even have a name. The “wedge” generation? The “tweeners?” Who the hell knows? We appreciate the good things the Boomers did, and roll our eyes at their self-involved naval-gazing, and get on with our lives. Which includes cleaning up some of their worst excesses.
So when it comes to Democratic candidates, as Sullivan points out, the difference is not just that he’s Black and she’s White, or that he’s a man and she’s a woman; it’s generational. He doesn’t carry the baggage of the 60s. When Clinton was meeting Kennedy, Obama was in short pants. Clinton didn’t inhale; Obama’s response to the same question was (in essence), “Sure, I smoked pot in college.” After all, aside from graduates of Wheaton College, who the heck didn’t? Obama didn’t go to giant protests in his 20s, he went to Law School.
I’m not saying my generation is perfect; we’re not. But we’re not going to repeat the mistakes of the Boomers, or refight their fights. We’re done with all that. It’s our history, not our former current events (if you see my meaning). We’ll make our own mistakes, but we won’t re-do the Boomer’s mistakes. And frankly, I find that comforting; I’m personally pretty tired of living with Boomer stuff. It would be nice to have someone like me in charge for a change, instead of someone like Bush or Clinton or Other Clinton. Don’t you think?