The Boomers Will Always Be With Us

One of the most ridiculous tropes of the campaign season thus far is the idea that the current election signals the beginning of the end ...
by | February 7, 2008
 

Kathleen_caseykirschling One of the most ridiculous tropes of the campaign season thus far is the idea that the current election signals the beginning of the end of political influence of the Baby Boom generation. The reason, as with so much other political deep-think these days, is the advent of Barack Obama.

"If you are an American who yearns to finally get beyond the symbolic battles of the Boomer generation and face today's actual problems, Obama may be your man," Andrew Sullivan wrote in an influential Atlantic cover story called "Goodbye to All That."

Other opinion-mongers have since struck similar valedictory tones. Jonathan Alter's column in the current Newsweek, for instance, is called "Twilight of the Baby Boom." The Washington Post this past Sunday ran a long piece arguing that "The Boomers Had Their Day."

I say, fiddlesticks.

It was just four months ago when Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, known as the first Boomer because she was born just after midnight on Jan. 1, 1946, signed up to receive Social Security benefits. Rather than witnessing the eclipse of Boomer influence on politics and policy, we may be closer to the start of its peak.

The great domestic political question of the coming couple of decades may well be the fight over resources between older voters -- which increasingly means Boomers -- and the young. In other words, health care vs. education and everything else.

Even if that is not an entirely dominant battle, we are still left with the fact that old people vote. They may no longer offer cutting-edge sexiness to pundits (or anyone else). The media won't be able to mint fresh demographic sobriquets for them such as the "Joshua generation" or "Millenials." ("Aging Boomoers" has the opposite of a fresh ring to it.) But they'll be around and they'll be voting.

There's already a clear generational divide -- arguably more important than the racial splits -- between Clinton supporters and Obama's. Assuming John McCain will be the Republican nominee, generational arguments will continue. Either McCain will continue to castigate Clinton for earmarking funds for a Woodstock museum or, let's face it, a McCain-Obama race will be all about young vs. old.

Oh, and by the way -- Obama himself is a Boomer.

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