Generations

The Millennials today will have their presidential election year about the time they morph into grumpy middle aged people who actually vote. 2024, maybe, or more like 2032, when today’s eighteen and twenty-nine year olds are thirty four and a thoroughly disagreeable forty five, respectively. As for the geezers, well, some of us will be there for it, and some will never have our year, we’ll be memories. The luck of the draw. But it won’t be the baby boomers’ world by then anyway, thankfully, we who voted more for Nixon and Reagan than Gene McCarthy and George McGovern, we who helped sweep the Reagan Revolution into power and helped it dismantle the New Deal. This mess we’re in today is as much our fault as the establishment we railed against way back when. We can’t blame it all on the Greatest Generation. Half of us voted for Reagan, even icons like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Johnny Ramone were card carrying Republicans. (You gotta serve somebody, Bob said. Keep on rockin’ in the free world said Neil.) And a lot of us Baby Boomers will wind up cranky old Republicans, chasing left wing Millennials off our lawns. No, we fucked up, sold out, gave up. The New Deal generation never let the US descend into income inequality hell like we did. They had their priorities right. And it’s hard to imagine that Millennials won’t eventually do something about getting those priorities right again, once they get off their aging asses and vote.

For now, though, Baby Boomers are still in the cat bird seat, voting up a storm, while way too many Millennials never get around to doing anything more than sharing Bernie Sanders memes on Facebook. Which is a good thing, since Bernie, gawd love him, is just a crazy old hippie, one of us, just a tiny tad older than a baby boomer, full of our impossible notions and the dreams that should have died after McGovern crashed and burned. Our idealism–the idealism of half of us, anyway–set up the Left for colossal failure and the take-over by a conservative movement once thought so scary its candidate in 1964, Barry Goldwater, was destroyed in one of the great electoral landslides of all time. But then the people who recognized how scary he was weren’t the baby boomers, no, it was our parents. The New Deal generation. They knew crazy when they saw it.

Sixteen years later too many of that generation were gone and the Baby Boomers turned their backs on the New Deal and Great Society and voted, a majority of them, for the Reagan Revolution. Our long national nightmare began. It ruined us. Left us broke, left us poor. So pardon me if I refuse to follow the siren song of another aging hippie tripping on Revolution and promises. Because it won’t be one of us who helps turn this country around. It’ll be one of those rotten Millennials out on the lawn. It’s their world now, what we left them of it.

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