UPDATE 2: November 4, 2008 = President-elect Barack Obama.
Update: As Obama edges closer to clinching the nomination, and media debate about who gets to “own” Obama’s post-partisan identity rages on- this column continues to inspire debate and draw comments. A recent commenter pointed out that Barack Obama actually falls into “Generation Jones” – which is something I am familiar with – but the New York Times isn’t going to rewrite the popular culture script for a nation of 300 million people overnight. This column is back on top for your reading pleasure! Chime in!!!
Generation X. Born from approximately 1961 – 1980. The children of Baby Boomers and Beatniks. We saw the Berlin wall come down, the Marine barracks in Beirut blown up, glasnost and perestroika crest and fall, the first shuttle launch – the Challenger disaster – and now, we are watching the end of the Shuttle program. Our men were young, fresh from high school and college when they went to liberate Kuwait in late 1990 and early 1991. Now – they are commanding forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. We remember the hostage release in Iran and we were children when Black September was the violent islamist group everyone feared. We remember the Achille Lauro and when hijacked airplanes landed on the tarmac instead of crashing into buildings. We remember the famine in Ethiopia. The genocide in Rwanda. We remember the Mog because it was our men who died there, and at Khobar Towers.
The soundtrack for our generation features Bob Geldof, Bono and U2. Sure, a lot of other artists are socially conscious. But ask a Gen Xer whose voice they hear when they see the news in Darfur, you’ll get U2 as an answer. More than a few of us skipped school the day the Joshua Tree record was released. Whether you bought it on tape or vinyl, it was a big deal.
We were deprived of knowing Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy and JFK. Because these great men were assassinated. We remember when Sadat died. We have watched as Baby Boomers ran in fear from every major challenge, shirked every responsibility, talked the talk about social justice but refused to let go of youth. They fought in a botched war (Vietnam) and are determined to make Iraq just as awful – they don’t care how many die in my generation — they just want us to feel their pain.
Here’s my thought – and it’s shared by many, if not expressed outright – Screw Off. Take your obsession with your wasted youth and get the hell out of leadership. Baby Boomers in the federal bureaucracy – whether in Congress, the White House, or on K Street – are trapped in a nightmare of their own making. GROW UP.
Gen Xers are ready to lead. We gave the world YouTube, Google, and ONE – with the help of modern visionaries like Bono. Our people, like Pierre-Richard Prosper, are the War Crimes Prosecutors – for the genocide Baby Boomers did nothing to stop. Our people, like Barack Obama, are motivating people in amazing ways — look at the Iowa Caucus results. And he isn’t just scaring Hillary Clinton – according to The Washington Post, GOP Doubts, Fears ‘Post-Partisan’ Obama.
Do you know why the “conventional wisdom” says that Obama can’t possibly motivate youth? Because the people providing the CW, are Baby Boomers. And yes-men. The 2008 presidential election may be the first election where Generation X assumes control of the Republic. It may be a chance to finally cut ties to the past – and move towards a future without the personal dramas of the past.
American voters don’t care how the Baby Boomers feel ANY MORE. That’s why elder statesman McCain is rising in the Republican field. At least McCain gives the impression he still believes in the American ideal. There is no place for petulance in presidential politics. Generation X is leading younger brothers and sisters of Generation Y, to the polls for the first time. Voters want authenticity and change.
And they are willing to take a chance on a guy, like Obama, who is one of their own – rather than give one more ounce of credit to the generation that presided over the obstacles and social engineering that our tax dollars are paying for.
This is not an endorsement of Obama, it is an endorsement of change.