Interesting historical analysis.
Money Madness … Foolin’ the People About Money, Part Six: The Yuppies Were Hardly Boomers … But This Idea Supports a Right-Wing Agenda by Pitting Progressives Against Each Other … Try the Red Pill Instead
- Yuppies are former hippies.
- “Flower children” abandoned their idealism and became greedy careerists focused on money.
- Former young radicals saw the error of their ways and became more conservative politically as they got older.
- The “Me” Generation is the Sixties Generation
- Sixties youth turned from free love and a sexual revolution to conservative sexual values and evangelical religion.
- “My Generation” gave up their idealism as everyone does with greater age and maturity.
- The Woodstock generation turned from pot and visionary thinking to booze, cocaine, and disco dancing a decade later
- The “free love” generation settled down and focused on family and jobs, centered around monogamy.
- “My Generation” is currently filling up the suburbs and feverishly maximizing their portfolios, at any and all cost.
Real Truth – All the Above Are Lies … Propaganda to Further the Motives of the 1%, the Filthy Rich
I can say I feel fortunate to have lived many years in an America quite different from what most people in America being younger than me have been growing up with.
I watched in the early Eighties the lies about a “Me Generation” coming out. Republicans brought that out to beat people down with. The idea was planted that people who wanted anything for themselves were selfish, for after all only the wealthy should ever benefit.
And it’s funny too, how they were able to use their own spawn to make this case. You could look around and see a new cadre of young folks—Gen X Yuppies—who had bought into the WWII values, who had been deluded by the untruths the 1% of that WWII generation had been using against the masses. The rich elite had succeeded in convincing those younger of mind that the wealthy folks interests where actually their own.
The 1% of the WWII Generation’s response to Sixties activism on campus, as I showed earlier, led to their taking over the universities in the early Seventies and turning them away from the humanities and social sciences and into career mills; I was there and observed it first hand. The success of this is what created the Yuppies in the Eighties–young upwardly mobile professionals–who were the first batch of Generation X—who are those born 1961 to 1981, who therefore left high school beginning in 1978. [Footnote 1]
So these Gen X Yuppies were coming onto the scene in the early Eighties, when the first of them were leaving the universities. The turnaround in education, away from free thinking and towards conservative careerist values, was in full swing by the time they reached college in 1978 on. And its effect on them was patent when they began coming of age. They were what the WWII Generation wanted: money-oriented and compliant…greed had been made “good” again. Standouts of this generation today are Sarah Palin (born 1964), Eric Cantor (born 1963), Rand Paul (born 1963), and Paul Ryan (born 1970).
So then the WWII Generation, fully in charge of society, could point to these yuppie spawn as examples of the obscenity of greed, thus deflecting attention away from their own, WWII Generation, me-spiritedness. To further their ends, they also claimed the origins of this unseemly greed lie in the failed, unrealistic values of the Sixties generation and their idealism.
This was one of their most amazing feats. They were able to take their values of greed and conformity, sow them in another generation, point to those values and criticize them, blame them on the hippies, all the while hiding their own espousal of those values. They perpetrated, denied, criticized, scapegoated, distracted, and obfuscated all together! They thoroughly convinced Americans that the Me Generation and Yuppies were those who formerly were flower children.
Whereas this actual Me Generation, these Yuppies, were predominantly a bunch of reactionary young people who said to hell with this idealistic stuff, and of helping out, and kumbaya, and all that stuff. They said, we’re for money, to hell with any one else. And somehow the WWII-Generation-owned media, assisted by a Fifties Generation now in their prime, convinced folks that these careerists out only for themselves were the one-time visionaries. Of course they only pulled this off because they owned or controlled all the major organs of expression in America—the newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, education, book publishing. I’ve delineated how they did this in one of the earliest all-out assaults, after their initial setbacks in the Sixties, of the Culture War/Class War they have been waging on the 99% since that time.
The media flooded American minds with the idea that the Me Generation was My Generation (I’m “talkin’ bout my generation” here) in the Eighties. They had prepared the ground for that lie, as there had been constant slander of my generation in the press since the beginnings of our activism in the Sixties, exactly like they are now putting out against the Millennials and those in the Occupy movement today. Beginning in the Seventies, owning the publishing and media industries, they concocted the lie that there was a conservative backlash going on. (See Chapter Two: Matrix Aroused, the Sixties and The Big Lie About Yuppies Being Hippies.)
This supposed conservative backlash was merely a continuation of Nixon’s laughable claim that he was supported by a “Silent Majority,” which he had used since the beginnings of his term in 1969 and which was obviously false, as demonstrations grew in size and support swung away from him throughout this period; and eventually he was forced to resign. But Republicans always claim there are a majority of real folks out there—“real Americans” as Palin and her kind say today—who support them but are doing it secretly. (btw, lol!)
Anyway, by the Eighties the powers-that-be were able to place this idea of a selfish “Me Generation” of Sixties youth, which they had been saying for a while, as being the ones on the campus at the time or recently out, the Yuppies. It fit their narrative. But it was a lie, and virtually all my generation knew it and thought it laughable. We stopped laughing after a while as over the years, it became clearer they had done such a good job of preparing the ground and repeating the lie that it stuck in the minds of those other than my generation—the Fifties Generation ahead of us and Gen X behind us—and the right wing, who of course saw this as red meat to further their causes. The media controlled by the 1% said the Sixties generation had gone from idealism to just wanting money, thereby discrediting their opponents, us who were consistently representing the 99%. At the same time they gave credibility to their claim of the superior veracity of their own values of greed, materialism, ruthless pragmatism, ego above all, and even me-spiritedness. Also, it validated, even glorified their personal traits of conformity, hard-headedness, cynicism, compliance, and even mean-spiritedness .
The Lies About Jerry Rubin
They could only give one example, Jerry Rubin; and even about him they lied and slandered. First off, neither Jerry Rubin, or Abbie Hoffman for that matter, were Boomers or Sixties Generation members. They were Fifties Generation, born in 1938 and 1936 respectively. Boomers were born in the post-WWII baby boom from 1946 through 1960. So that is enough to discredit what they said about “my generation.” But taking it as an attack aimed at the counterculture, let’s examine it:
They said Jerry Rubin was engaged in trying to make money. And they never mentioned what he was trying to make money on… but God forbid anyone but them should try to make money anyway. You see, what the 1% do is drive people into lowered standards of living and poverty where they experience desperation for money at times. Then they can point to that grasping to survive as proof that their values of money above all else are legitimate and that it is not possible for humans to have any other values higher than that. They create the conditions that they can use to support and validate themselves…how convenient.
But telling the whole truth would never allow them to do that. They didn’t mention about Jerry Rubin that he was engaged in selling health supplements; he was trying to help people out with their health. He was involved in multilevel marketing. He was an early investor in Apple Corporation, helping to foster the cybernetic revolution that progressives depend on today and which has strengthened our movement incredibly with Facebook and Twitter aiding us in overthrowing dictators in the Mideast and joining us in support of the Occupy and Wisconsin union movements.
He traveled with Abbie Hoffman in doing “Yippie versus Yuppie” debates, that is true. Since it did not fit the narrative of their discrediting their opponents in the Sixties generation, they never understood or at least never mentioned that in using those terms for their “debates” they were continuing their tradition of fucking with their opponents’ minds by flaunting the terms that had been used against them. Critics don’t get and opponents conveniently overlook the heavily ironic and playful way my generation, and Yippies in particular, present themselves. “Yippie versus Yuppie” is supposed to make you think; it is a hook; and it is funny to those of us in the know. Believe me, I have the same problem with people sometimes misunderstanding my intent for the opposite of what I believe because of the amusingly ironic titles I sometimes give my writings.
But Rubin’s position in this “debate”—which was actually a discussion of different ways the Sixties values might succeed, not be overturned—was that the POOR COULD BE HELPED by promoting programs to create wealth in their communities. I quote:
Rubin’s argument in the debates was that activism was hard work and that the abuse of drugs, sex, and private property had made the counter-culture “a scary society in itself.” He maintained that “wealth creation is the real American revolution. What we need is an infusion of capital into the depressed areas of our country.”
Someone who knew him well, Stew Albert, said this of Jerry in eulogizing him.
Jerry was always a rebel, but then he was always a rebel within the rebellion. He was always sort of rebelling against the norms of the rebellion.
Does that sound like someone promoting the interests of the 1%? Or like someone just out for himself, as Yuppies really are? Remember that at the time, militant, even violent revolution had been in the air for a while—with the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, and the Symbionese Liberation Army and such. So “Yippie vs. Yuppie” was a leftist debate about tactics. Today it would be considered a discussion of liberal vs. progressive views…hardly conservative, Yuppie, or Republican views. And Jerry Rubin’s putting on a suit made him about as conservative as it made Bob Dylan a conservative when he picked up an electric guitar at the Newport Festival of 1965. Dylan got booed for what was only considered unusual alongside some very high, and strict, expectations about purism in music having nothing to do with political ideology or musical quality but simply technology. Rubin’s wearing a suit was the same kind of thing at the time he did it…and it had nothing to do with ideology but simply tactics—i.e., revolutionary technology.
Also, at the same time as Rubin was doing all this and supposedly a Yuppie, he was running a legal and civil rights office in an artsy/alternative part of L.A., Echo Park, where he also lived. When he died he was on his way to dinner in the company of Fred Branfman of the Making a Difference project, whose purpose was to bring money into poor communities by helping inner-city youth learn how to start their own businesses. Does that sound like a Wall Street careerist? Does that sound like he turned over his ideals and bowed to the god of money? So, lies, lies, lies. And these lies become instituted and they’re not challenged after a while, after you hear them for decade after decade after decade….
You have to be older to know that it wasn’t always the way they tell you it is. It helps to have lived in different times and places and to have seen things with your own eyes to be able to see through these inane “obvious truths” that people take as absolute truths. It helps to have had experience with the things they are talking about to know what are actual facts and what are complete fabrications.
Setting the Record Straight on Boomers
Boomer-Generation X Culture War
A friend who supports the Occupy movement, and who happens to be a Gen Xer, recently shared this with me,
As a Gen Xer, I have to say we were outnumbered as a Generation with half the numbers of the boomers and the previous traditional generations.
…the boomers cut taxes on the wealthy and wages for the middle class to create the world’s largest debt, our dependence on dirty foreign oil grew as our manufacturing base got shipped over seas.
You Boomers call Gen X a slacker generation while doing all that?
It is the boomers who are the dead beat generation now.
If this person were correct, then why have the Boomers voted consistently Democratic? [Footnote 2]
The Gen X/Yuppie—Fifties Generation alliance was responsible for getting Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II elected. Boomers voted against Republicans, especially these; it’s all in the public record. Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II are the ones who did the tax cuts. Whereas Clinton—a Boomer and a Democrat—raised taxes on the 1% and balanced a budget for the first time.
Indeed, all Democratic candidates and Presidents going back to Roosevelt at least, with the one small exception of Kennedy favored and fought for raising taxes on the 1%, not cutting them, so as to relieve the burden on the 99%. The right likes to use Kennedy as an example of a Democrat seeing the wisdom of cutting taxes to improve the economy, but Kennedy’s proposed tax cut for the 1% was when the marginal rate was 91% range, not at 35% as today, and the country was prosperous. (See The Myth of JFK as a Supply Side Tax Cutter.) Also it was not instituted until Johnson began his term … which was incidentally when the huge deficits began. So Kennedy’s tax cut had nothing at all to do with the prosperity we enjoyed during his term, indeed its institution marked the beginning of increasing deficits.
Even today, it is Democrats—supported heavily by Boomers—who are opposed to tax cuts and favor reining in the greed of the 1%. This includes Obama, who incidentally is a Gen X-Boomer cusper, born 1961. Note that he has surrounded himself with Boomers—Biden, Clinton, et al. And they are engaged in that same Democratic struggle of decades past of trying to get the 1% to pay their fair share in taxes. Meanwhile Republicans supported by that Fifties Generation (the Koch Brothers, John McCain, Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, et al) – Gen X/Yuppie (Palin, Cantor, Ryan, Rand Paul) alliance oppose Boomer-Democratic tax and other progressive initiatives at every turn.
So to accuse Boomers, who voted predominantly for these Democrats and their policies, of cutting taxes is grossly misinformed or a lie. And for a Gen Xer to do this blaming is either ignorant, a denial, or delusional…but is in any case a product of that misinformation I’ve been talking about.
For to address that Gen Xer’s charges of Boomer’s causing the dependence on dirty foreign oil, the Sixties Generation started the environmental movement. I know a little about this; as I explained previously, I was one of those who helped bring nuclear plant construction to a halt in America, which we did in Springfield, Oregon, in the early Eighties. We, Boomers…I was born in 1950…supported Democrats who fought for environmental legislation, alternative energies, and reduced dependence on dirty energies against Republicans, supported by the Fifties-Gen X alliance, who watered down those policies and legislated a rape of our natural resources and our environment to benefit big business, Big Oil, Big Nuke, Big Coal, and the 1%.
As for the accusation that Boomers sent our manufacturing base overseas and caused a lowering of middle class wages, how can that possibly be true alongside the more than obvious knowledge that Democrats are the ones who consistently push for and favor raising the minimum wage and are the union supporters? Can this OWS person not be aware of the parallel Wisconsin union movement which has Democrats and union folks up against Republicans and Gen X/Fifties Gen Koch-supporters? Or is he somehow unaware of the fact that Boomers have consistently voted in greater numbers for Democrats than Republicans over all these decades? [Footnote 2]
Well, this shows the amount of success the WWII Generation and Fifties Generation enjoyed in shifting the blame for their policies and their theft of the national wealth. And, by the way, it was the WWII Generation that had the greatest retirement wealth per person and who instituted Social Security and other benefit programs for themselves … making themselves the wealthiest as well as the “Greatest Generation.” Probably with the tax cuts, the current Fifties Generation who in their retirement years are raping the wealth of the country to fatten themselves, are bettering them. Whereas the Sixties Generation, scapegoated again, is facing cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits at the exact time as they need it and are facing or entering retirement—being beaten down, harassed, and scapegoated by the Gen X-Fifties Generation alliance again.
You think this is ancient information and is irrelevant to what is happening today? Remember that the comment I quoted above from my Gen X friend and fellow Occupier was from only last week. He has his sights set on my generation as the perpetrators of the problems; these ideas have caused a split between Gen X and Boomer Progressives. I can tell you that his comment is not atypical from others I hear from Gen X in their attitudes toward Boomers.
Similarly, to some extent the Millennials believe Boomers are at fault also—this is what they have been taught. They are simply misinformed and so are not so committed to the lies as the Gen Xers. The Millennials are open to the fact they have been deceived. After all their Boomer parents are models of the fact that these “facts” are actually lies. The Millennials have been made to believe, simply, that their own parents and those of their friends are somehow just different from those “bad Boomers” out there who are really the selfish and tax-cutter ones.
Lies and toxic misinformation are not healthy, at all, for a movement that is predominantly an alliance of Millennials and Boomers, with some Gen Xers (notably, few Fifties Generation folks). After all, how do you think a progressive Boomer feels, after fighting his entire life with his generational cohort for the changes that we are still fighting for with the OWS and Wisconsin union movements, and after hearing his entire life the made up lies, the slander, the scapegoating about himself, his generation, and his beliefs? How do you think she feels seeing those same lies being pulled out again and thrown against OWS supporters, for example, continuing therefore to throw salt into old wounds. And finally how do you think she feels to hear from her friends and allies in the movement that she has been the problem all this time, not the solution? It is disheartening, to say the least.
In this antagonism against Boomers, the other side—the WWII-Fifties Gen alliance, supportive of the 1% and their Tea Party sycophants—have won again. [Footnote 3]
For these WWII-Fifties Gen lies have thrown discord into progressive ranks. And they have thrown off the aim of our movements as to who the perpetrators are, giving the 1% a convenient fog of confusion behind which they can continue unfettered their actions against us.
Finally a most visible example of the right-wing/Republican Fifties Generation – Gen X alliance was shown in the last presidential election with a Fifties Gen, McCain, matched with a Gen X – Palin, born in 1964, coming smack in the middle of the Yuppies (1961 through 1970). This is the generational alliance and the generational values we should be targeting, not Boomers, and Progressives would do better to know that.
Return to A Rising Tide Lifts All Yachts…The Rich Are Getting Richer and the Workers Are Getting Humiliated: Money Madness … Foolin’ the People About Money, Part 4
The Rise and Fall of “Obvious Truths,” Part Three – an Audio Reading by SillyMickel Adzema
Here is an audio of the author’s impassioned reading of this part. Though it is of the first, unedited and unpolished version, and it does not contain all the detail of its current form, it does capture the flavor of it all. I offer it here for your listening pleasure. For the reading of this part, “The Rise and Fall of ‘Obvious Truths,’ Part Three,” click on the link to the audio site above or click the link to the audio player below.
1. A lot of confusion about Boomers, Yuppies, And Generation X has been generated by the Census Bureau and main stream media. A generation, see below, is defined as a cohort of people occurring roughly every twenty years who share some common viewpoint and experiences.
This is what a generation actually is:
Defining a generation
Strauss and Howe define a social generation as the aggregate of all people born over a span of roughly twenty years, or about the length of one phase of life: childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and old age. Particular generations are identified (from first birthyear to last) by looking for cohort groups of this length that share three criteria. First, members of a generation share what the authors call an age location in history: they encounter key historical events and social trends while occupying the same phase of life. Because members of a generation are shaped in lasting ways by the eras they encounter as children and young adults, they also tend to share certain common beliefs and behaviors. Aware of the experiences and traits that they share with their peers, members of a generation also tend to share a sense of common perceived membership in that generation. For example, in a 2007 Harvard Institute of Politics survey, Americans born 1982 to 1989 (whom Strauss and Howe define as the first-wave cohorts of the Millennial Generation) identified themselves as belonging to a “unique and distinct” generation, with an outlook different from people in their 30s or older. Surveys show that Boomers also strongly identify with their own age cohort.
Strauss and Howe base their definition of a generation on the work of diverse writers and social thinkers, from ancient writers such as Polybius and Ibn Khaldun to modern social theorists like José Ortega y Gasset, Karl Mannheim, John Stuart Mill, Émile Littré, Auguste Comte, and François Mentré.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau definition of Boomers is different. See Baby boomer.
Why would it be different? That is the crucial question. The Census Bureau’s definitions of Boomers and Generation X is as follows:
- The Baby Boom Generation is the generation that was born following World War II, from 1946 up to 1964, a time that was marked by an increase in birth rates. The baby boom has been described variously as a “shockwave” and as “the pig in the python.” By the sheer force of its numbers, the boomers were a demographic bulge which remodeled society as it passed through it. In general, baby boomers are associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values; however, many commentators have disputed the extent of that rejection, noting the widespread continuity of values with older and younger generations. In Europe and North America boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of affluence. One of the features of Boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before them. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about.
- Generation X (also known as the 13th Generation and the Baby Busters) is the generation generally defined as those born after the baby boom ended from 1965 to 1981.  The term generally includes people born during all or part of the 1960s: According to Strauss-Howe generational theory, 1961 is the starting point, though other sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, consider it to have started in the mid-1960s. It ends in late 1970s to early 1980s, usually not later than 1981 or 1982. The term has also been used in different times and places for a number of different subcultures or countercultures since the 1950s.
From Generation in Wikipedia.
So why are those born 1961 through 1964 considered part of the Boomer Generation by the Census Bureau, which has informed much of the discussion on this? Why is the Census Bureau attributing only 17 years to Generation X but 19 years to Boomers, when in fact the Boomers were born in a World War II “baby boom” that had them being born in a distinctly shorter period. Whereas Generation X was born of the Fifties Generation during a more languorous, hence longer period? Why is the Census Bureaus including as Boomers those born at those end years of 1961 through 1964 when the number of births was decreasing, not “booming”?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know this decision by the Census Bureau has served pundits and right wing commentators in giving more weight to their positions by diluting the distinctly liberal voting record of actual Boomers. As I have been stating above, there was a concerted effort to scapegoat Boomers and to confuse them with Yuppie-Gen Xers. This confused definition by the Census Bureau is part of that. It has allowed pundits to slander the Sixties Generation, as I said, by attributing qualities to them that were actually a part of the WWII Generation’s Culture War Attack of creating a generation different from and more compliant than the Sixties Generation/ Boomers.
At any rate, that is why we have the discrepancy shown in this description of the Pew Report findings on “Boomer” voting patterns. Let’s look at a few relevant findings:
Of greatest interest to BTS are the Pew Research Center survey findings about Boomers.
- In recent years Boomers increasingly call themselves conservatives. They voted for Republican candidates in 2010, but are still on the fence for the 2012 Presidential Election.
- Older Boomers tilt Democratic while younger Boomers tilt Republican. When asked to name the best President during their lifetime, Boomers were evenly divided between Clinton and Reagan.
- Younger Boomers and Generation Xers have been one of the most reliable Republican voting groups.
This supports what I’m saying about generational voting patterns. The difference lies in that this author has to differentiate between late Boomers and early Boomers. They are opposite in their voting patterns. This person wouldn’t be so confused if he placed the generational divide where it belongs, at 1961, not 1965. Boomers were born between 1946 and 1960, as shown in the chart below, which also shows Generation X beginning in 1961.
The Boom Generation defined by Howe and Strauss, as shown in the chart above, born 1946 thru 1960 are the ones who vote consistently Democratic. They are the ones who shared common events and experiences growing up and were shaped by them, notably the Vietnam War; the JFK, RFK, and MLK assasinations in 1968; the sexual revolution; the explosion of the use of LSD and pot as drugs, and the counterculture. These events were not on the cultural map that faced the ones born 1961 through 1964, for they were too young. Yet how can one define a Boomer-Sixties Generation that does not include these as formative experiences?
So this discrepancy is an example of what I’m talking about in this article. For it continues the confusion about Boomers and contributes to the scapegoating and the denigration of Boomers as being a Me Generation and Yuppies being former hippies by simply getting confusing results by including some from Gen X—some actual Yuppies. To include those born between the four years, 1961 through 1964, you end up getting the confused results this author gets. You are including the likes of Sarah Palin and Eric Cantor, fer Chrissakes! I’ve never heard anyone mistake them for my generation. It would have Barack Obama, born 1961, categorized as a Boomer, as if there is not an obvious generational difference between him and some the notable Boomers in his administration, like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. But by seeing that Obama is a Yuppie-Gen Xer, it helps explain the differences between him and the actual Boomer president, Bill Clinton.
For more on this, see Generation Jones, which is the term given for those born 1954 through 1964. They are seen to be very different from the Boomers. They did not confront the same social realities as did Boomers. They even came of age after the Vietnam War. They missed the counterculture movement. It is ludicrous for generationalists to include these with Baby Boomers as especially the second half of these have an entirely opposite world view from Boomers. Their stalwarts include Rick Santorum (born 1958), Sarah Palin (born 1964) and Eric Cantor (born 1963)…hardly Boomers. Notice that it also includes Rand Paul (born 1963), who as expected is the son of a Fifties Generation parent with whom he is allied, Ron Paul (born 1935).
See also the write up on Generation X in Wikipedia, which addresses this confusion as to where the dividing line between Boomers and Gen X is as well.
Finally, see Baby boomer, which discusses this confusion and adds two important considerations: The person who coined the term “baby boomer” described them as those born between 1943 and 1960. So why did the Census Bureau change it? The second point discussed is that many theorists have two distinct generations during this supposed period of Census Bureau Boomers—Boomers and Generation Jones, which are said to be those born 1956 through 1964. So this latter group is not included with Boomers.
Is all this not confusing enough? Does it not play into the right wing agenda to dilute their opponents power by confusing their opponents profile, so they can lob any charge against them? Or attribute any self-congratulatory trait to them, as they wish?
Most of all, this strikes me as devious in that it allows right wingers to blame Boomers for the cadre of youth, the Yuppies, who were actually their creation—that of the 1% and those reactionary culture war forces—and were in no way influenced by, so should hardly be included in, “my generation” of Boomers, the Sixties Generation.
2. BLAM!! From the site, Gallup Politics, of May 8, 2009. Even though continuing the misinformation that Boomers were born up till 1964, going with the Census Bureau definition, Gallup Poll data still solidly support the premise that Boomers are predominantly Democrats, as well as the fact that Millennials are as well.
Republicans do better among Generation X
by Frank Newport
PRINCETON, NJ — Although Democrats currently enjoy a party identification advantage over Republicans among Americans at every age between 18 to 85, the Democrats’ greatest advantages come among those in their 20s and baby boomers in their late 40s and 50s. Republicans, on the other hand, come closest to parity with Democrats among Generation Xers in their late 30s and early 40s and among seniors in their late 60s….
Demographers and social observers have made attempts over the years to classify Americans into generational groups based on the social, political, economic, and cultural environment of the years in which they grew up and “came of age.” The most clearly delineated such group is the baby boomers, generally agreed to be those born between 1946 and 1964 — or roughly ages 45 to 63 today. Generation X follows the baby boom and is generally considered to be those born between 1965 and 1979 — or roughly between ages 30 and 44. Those younger than Generation X have been labeled Generation Y or the “Millennials,” who are 18 to 29 today. There are various ways of grouping those who preceded the baby boom generation, including the famous sobriquet “The Greatest Generation” used by Tom Brokaw in his book of the same name, but it is convenient to label those who today are 64 and older as seniors (even though some in this group would no doubt resist that label).
Notice here that not only are arbitrary birth figures used to stipulate Boomers and Generation Xers, but everyone older than a Boomer is classified as part of the World War Two Generation—”The Greatest Generation.” So they would have everyone born in the forty-five year period from 1901 through 1945 to be WWII Gen even though some were born during the war and had their coming of age after the war and in the decade of the Fifties—those born 1925 through 1945. Elsewhere this generation has been termed the Silent Generation or the Eisenhower-Presley-McCarthy Generation…I’m calling them the Fifties Generation for convenience sake. Still, the study does find Democratic tendencies among Boomers, however wrongly defined, and Millennials. And it finds Republican leanings among Generation Xers, however wrongly defined, and the Fifties Generation, however wrongly defined again, as shown by the graph below:
The current data suggest that political party identification in the United States today follows these generational patterns to a perhaps surprising degree.
· Generation Y (18 to 29) clearly is skewed fairly strongly in the direction of being either independent or Democratic in political orientation. This group constitutes a significant weakness for the Republican Party.
· Generation X (30 to 44) includes some of the strongest support for Republicans. For whatever reasons, the Democratic over Republican gap among Generation Xers, particularly those ages 37 to 43 at the heart of this generation, is on a relative basis much closer to parity than for any other age group with the exception of those in their late 60s.
· Baby Boomers (45 to 63) skew Democratic in their political orientation, with the Democratic advantage reaching a peak at ages 58 and 59.
· Seniors have a more mixed pattern of party identification, with Republicans gaining on a relative basis among those in their late 60s, but with Democrats doing better as Americans age into their 70s and early 80s.
Democrats have a significant advantage over Republicans today in terms of overall party identification, and the data reviewed here show that this advantage holds at every age between 18 and 85.
At the same time, there are clear ebbs and flows in the degree of this Democratic advantage across the age spectrum. Democrats have the greatest advantage vis a vis Republicans among Americans at the very youngest voting age and also among members of the fabled baby boom, particularly those in their late 50s. Republicans do relatively better among those who are in Generation X, including in particular those in their late 30s and early 40s. Republicans also show greater support among older Americans in their late 60s….
There is…the hypothesis that the differences are explained by the unique circumstances that surrounded the coming of age of the generations. Baby boomers, as is well known, grew up in the tumultuous age of civil rights, Vietnam, Woodstock, and Watergate. It is certainly possible that these events have marked this generation in a more Democratic or liberal direction for life. Many Generation Xers came of age during the Reagan-Bush years (1980 to 1992) or the “Republican Revolution” marked by the 1994 midterm elections. Today’s Generation Y has reached maturity in a time period largely marked by the administration of George W. Bush, and certainly for many the nascent Obama administration is a major formative factor in their political orientation….
Now contrast what above is said in the Gallup Poll about Boomers with what is said here about “late Boomers,” or who Howe and Strauss and other social scientists would call Generation X, and I would call Gen X-Yuppies:
the 1980-1988 run where young Late Boomers broke heavily for Republicans in the three Presidential landslides of that decade. When that generation grew to political maturity, it resulted in by far the most Republican-identifying generation in over half a century, the 1994 Republican landslide, and the general sense of creeping conservatism the country experienced through the 1990′s and first half of our current decade
The article above also describes the Democratic voting patterns of the Millennials, or what they call Generation Y.
On the idea that the Millennials being the sons and daughters of the Sixties Generation/Boomers, as I continually point out, I offer the following definition of Millennials from WhatIs.com
Millennials, an abbreviation for millennial generation, is a term used by demographers to describe a segment of the population born between 1980 and 2000 (approximately). Sometimes referred to in the media as “Generation Y,” millennials are the children of the post-WWII baby boomer generation.
A few things about millennials:
- According the U.S. census bureau, around forty percent of the millennial generation is African American, Latino, Asian or of a racially-mixed background.
- There are about 76 million millennials in the United States (based on research using the years 1978-2000).
- Millennials are the last generation born in the 20th century.
- Twenty percent have at least one immigrant parent.
- A number of studies, including one by the Center for American Progress, anticipate that millennials will be the first American generation to do less well economically than their parents.
- Millennials are also sometimes called the Net generation because (at least according to some people) they don’t remember a time when there was no Internet.
- As a result of growing up with the Internet and associated devices, millennials are often said to be the most technologically savvy generation to date.
Finally a most visible example of the right-wing/Republican Fifties Generation – Gen X alliance was shown in the last presidential election with a Fifties Gen, McCain, matched with a Gen X – Palin, born in 1964, coming smack in the middle of the Yuppies (1961 through 1970). This is the generational alliance and the generational values we should be targeting, not Boomers, and Progressives would do better to know that.
3. There is some scapegoating done by Millennials out of this misinformation. The following was published a few days ago, on June 17, 2012. It is further validation of the antagonism against Boomers regarding the issues of the movement—OWS and Wisconsin union:
9/11 and the “war on terror” became part of common jargon. Recently, the “war on women” and the “war on religion” are hot political topics. Now, I’m thinking there is a “war on boomers”….
I was sitting at a reception party table politely nibbling on a too-sweet slice of wedding cake chased with lukewarm burnt coffee when a recent graduate seated at the table started whining about how unfairly life was treating him. First, he believed that four years of (sheltered) college life entitled him to a first-class ticket to affluence with a side-trip on a guaranteed career path. And, now there were no job tickets to be had and (worse) he was expected to pay back all the money he borrowed to get in on this total sham. Life was so unfair! His debt should be forgiven – because it was only fair to be compensated for this bait-and-switch.
He continued his tirade. Boomers should be retiring to make room for all the recent grads that deserve jobs now. It’s only right. On top of this, these boomers with all of their massive wealth were actually going to bankrupt Social Security – a heartless action since they don’t actually need it. The injustices just keep piling for the new graduates with their superior skills and up-to-date knowledge. Down the road he had nothing to look forward to — once he finally got that plum job that he had a right to based on his attendance at an institution of higher learning – except huge national debt and no Social Security or Medicare, an unwanted and unwarranted gift from self-centered boomers.
And, now I’m starting to pay attention to what seemed idle conversation. I glance at the Count who gives me a look that says, “Don’t go there –– please!” I concentrate on my cake that is now too dry to choke down without more lukewarm burnt coffee; and wonder if Clueless thinks those seated at the table are in our 30s (or perhaps our 80s!) and am amazed at how he can find it acceptable to disparage all boomers while sitting among them. Generously, I wonder if maybe he just has a sarcastic sense of humor. However, Clueless continues. I smolder some and then catch the Count’s glance again. He slyly places his thumb and first finger on either side of his mouth pulling a smile into place – and I reluctantly accept his wisdom. But, the Count did get an earful on the way home.
- I think about Julie, a single mother, who helped two kids through college while working 40 hours per work as an administrative assistant, selling Avon after work hours, and running a food concession stand at weekend events during the summer. Julie has little in her nest-egg, but her children do have a chance at the American dream – although it will always require some effort.
- I suspect that John, another co-worker, was on track to fund his retirement. Unfortunately, at about the same time the 2008 financial crisis cratered his retirement savings his father was diagnosed with Alzheimers. John knew he should avoid using his tax-deferred savings at the bottom of the financial market, but his father’s healthcare bills had to be paid. John’s plan to retire at 62 is a dream lost to reality.
- I bumped into Mary Beth at the greenhouse when we were buying our bedding plants. She pointed us to the “spikes” that the Count insists on adding to the geranium-filled pots on the patio. As we caught up on gossip about former neighbors, she confided that plants have always been her hobby and that this “green” job was perfect. This temporary part-time job was crucial to replacing the family income lost when Jerry was laid off from his welding job – months ago. And, she laughed when she acknowledged that, in fact, “work” was a respite from a house now over-crowded since her daughter and family are living in the basement. I’m pretty certain that Jerry and Mary Beth — both boomers, planners, and savers – no longer have the luxury of maximizing their tax-deferred retirement savings accounts (or even the ability to set aside savings) as they approach the age they used to believe would be the end of their full-time working careers.
With investment portfolios and home values shrinking, medical expenses and LTC costs rising, financial worries for some boomers are dire.
- A May 2010 Pew Research survey found that 60% of Americans age 50 to 61 believe they may need to delay retirement because of the recession. Plus, the highest percentage of any generation, 57% of boomers, said that their household finances have deteriorated in the past few years.
- In 2010 the ERBI reported that only 13% of workers age 55 or older are “very confident” that have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.
- Some have labeled the boomer generation the “sandwich generation”, a group dealing with healthcare issues of their elderly parents at the same time they are backstopping the impact of the stagnant economy on their boomerang grown children.
Aiming fingers and lobbing blame doesn’t solve anything. We are all in this together since our generations are linked in complex ways. We are all fighting the same war of financial and economic uncertainty, just not at on the same battlefield – as determined by our stage of life. A war on anyone does nothing but divide us – when the ultimate victory is prosperity for everyone.
From The War on Boomers