A recent article in the New York Times touches on a favorite subject of mine: just who is a baby boomer?
I’ve always accepted the idea that the American baby boom is comprised of those born between 1943 and 1964. Some people are now saying it ends with those in my birth year–1960.
It’s no surprise that those folks born in the early 1960’s do not have much in common with those born 20 years earlier. The author David Leavitt (born in 1961) wrote an excellent article in 1985 for Esquire magazine (I can’t find an internet citation) entitled “The New Lost Generation.” Leavitt pointed out that the tail-end boomers had different values than their idealistic boomer elders. Our part of the generation was more cynical, having grown up to see sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll degenerate into AIDS, addiction and ABBA. Marketers and brand-conscious capitalist trader-types even tried to come up with a name for us: Generation Jones.
Anyway, folks of my age are starting to even deny our membership in that hallowed cohort. The most famous example of this is Senator Barack Obama (born in 1961). In his book “The Audacity of Hope” Obama writes:
In the back and forth between Clinton and Gingrich, and in the elections of 2000 and 2004, I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago — played out on the national stage.”
The article also states that an interest in post-boomer politics is developing because we need to deal with post-boomer issues: the war on terror, global warming, energy, technology and globalization. Our nation needs a new set of ideas and a new mind-set to deal with the problems that will outlive the boomers.
In other words, the pig in the python is almost ready to be fully digested. Boomers have come to expect everything to be all about us and our numbers usually made it so–a huge bulge sliding through an otherwise narrow age distribution. This next Presidential election will have a full range of demographic interest: pre-boomers like John McCain, Hillary (an uber-boomer, just like her husband) and the tail-ender boomer Obama.
The Baby Boomers time is almost up, but as one of the youngest boomers I’ll (hopefully) be there to watch the python poop.