January 18, 2009
Generation whatever

I'm rather surprised I haven't seen more of these stories lately, since the genre seems to be a media favorite.

When George W. Bush lifts off in his helicopter on Inauguration Day, leaving Washington to make way for Barack Obama, he may not be the only thing disappearing into the horizon.

To a number of social analysts, historians, bloggers and ordinary Americans, Jan. 20 will symbolize the passing of an entire generation: the baby boomer years.

Generational change. A passing of the torch. The terms have been thrown around with frequency as the moment nears for Obama to take the oath of office. And yet the reference is not to Obama's relatively young age -- at 47, he's only tied for fifth place on the youngest presidents list with Grover Cleveland.

Rather, it's a sense that a cultural era is ending, one dominated by the boomers, many of whom came of age in the '60s and experienced the bitter divisions caused by the Vietnam War and the protests against it, the civil rights struggle, social change, sexual freedoms, and more.

I confess, it was the idea that we might finally put all the boomer crap behind us that first attracted me to Obama over Hillary Clinton in the primaries. It wasn't the only thing, of course, but it helped. I was and am as ready for us to all move on from Baby Boom hegemony as I was to move on from the World War II generation back in 1992. I figure we'll have to read about a million more of these thumb-suckers before we really get there, but that's a price I'm willing to pay. My own generation may not be the brightest bunch of porch lights on the block, but at least we'll provide a new set of flashpoints to fight over. I don't know about you, but I'm sure ready for that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 18, 2009 to Society and cultcha

Charles I had not thought that much about it but you're right, this is a generational change to consider.

More importantly I think the generational change will usher in new ideas in civil rights, technology and service. I'm a tail-end boomer and to be honest my ideas are similar to others from the years past. We do provide some wisdom to pass on but my nieces and friends at work are the new generation who can help shape this country.

I'm ready for some fresh ideas and attitudes to move the country forward. Just the civil rights opportunities are exciting.

Posted by: RBearSAT on January 18, 2009 8:44 AM

I am fascinated by the generational differences in society. I agree with you. Having someone of a different generation in office will be a good thing because different generations really do view things differently. It will be nice to finally have someone in office that close to my age too.

Posted by: Jeff on January 18, 2009 10:36 AM

But Obama is a baby boomer, under the traditional definition, having been born in 1961. Clinton and the Shrub were both born in 1946, the outset of the baby boom, while Obama was born at the tail.

I'm sensitive to this because I'm three years older than the President-elect. I'd like to claim him for my generation, which some are now calling Generation Jones, to distinguish us from the older boomers. (Wikipedia)

Posted by: Jeff N. on January 18, 2009 3:27 PM

I'm just thankful that this was probably our last election about Vietnam.

Generation change will also be an issue in Austin's local elections this year. Our electorate has been shifting in various ways away from the Boomer-led Central City Coalition that has led for the last 15 years. One of the subtexts of the election will be how willing to share power the Boomers will be. This will be most overtly seen in the Boomer vs Gen X mayoral campaign, but the real test will likely be in the Place 5 race.

Oh, and don't talk to me about generations defined in terms to sell the largest amount of soap. I don't think that anyone who was in college in the 80s and experienced Reaganism and the explosion of AIDS can be counted as a Boomer.

Posted by: Jeb on January 20, 2009 6:18 PM
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