I couldn’t help but notice the amount of boomer-directed venom expressed in the comments section of yesterday’s thread.
I’ve noticed it many times before. Actually, I’ve noticed it almost every time I write about—well, about my generation. And here I think we need a musical interlude:
Note, of course, the verse:
People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’ve never been a big Who fan, but that’s the lyric that popped into my head yesterday when writing about the boomers and their increased suicide rate. Is some of the cause almost as simple as this (understanding, of course, that suicide is never the least bit simple): that some boomers want to die before they get really old? It’s late and getting later. No generation before the boomers (although several after them) has ever focused so obsessively on youth, and getting old is no joke.
But right now I’m going to talk ’bout the “people try to put us down” part. Those of you who hate boomers (and wish them dead, apparently, if you mean what you say) may or may not have realized that not only am I a bona fide boomer, but that boomers are now (and always have been) a somewhat conservative bunch, at least by the standards of today.
For example, who failed to vote for Barack Obama either in 2008 or 2012? Why, boomers, that’s who:
Romney won “Middle-aged voters” (45-59) by 5 points (52% to 47%). These were 29% of voters.
Romney won “Older voters” (60+) by 9 points (54% to 45%). These were 25% of voters.
When boomers die off, the voting public will be far more overwhelmingly liberal than it is now—unless, of course, other generations turn more and more conservative as they age, which is certainly possible. But if you look at voting patterns over time, you’ll see what I mean about the boomers, and this doesn’t just represent a recent change. And note that older boomers and younger boomers seem to have behaved somewhat differently from each other, as well, with younger ones consistently being more liberal than the older group:
The clearest pattern is that younger voters who turned 18 during the presidencies of Clinton, Bush or Obama –the younger members of Gen X and the Millennial generation – have typically voted much more Democratic than the average. In contrast, voters who turned 18 during the Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush Sr. presidencies –much of Generation X and younger Baby Boomers– have voted somewhat more Republican than the average.
The picture is less clear for older generations. Those who turned 18 during the Nixon administration – a segment of older Baby Boomers – have tended to be slightly more Democratic than average in their voting. Those who came of age during the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson years – mostly members of the Silent generation and the very oldest of the Baby Boomers –have tended to be more Republican than the average, especially in 2008.
And before you laud the Greatest Generation as being the conservative ones, take a look at this:
The Greatest generation is dwindling in numbers, but at least until recently their Democratic tendencies were still evident. Voters who turned 18 during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt consistently voted more Democratic than average.
All of this doesn’t mean that I’m a boomer booster, or that I don’t see why people are so pissed about them. There’s a tendency among the most vocal and visible boomers (who may or may not represent the generation as a whole) to come across as arrogant, selfish, histrionic, narcissistic, and foolishly and destructively iconoclastic. My generation was instrumental in the dismantling of a great many institutions and traditions that held the fabric of society together, and we are all feeling the pain today.
But we certainly had some good music.