I can still remember my view of the 1960s when I was in college. They were primarily about how the old guys in Washington were messing things up. College campuses were raging with demonstrations against a senseless war in Vietnam that eventually cost us over 58,000 my generation. The Chicago police were beating up peaceful demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic convention. Inflation was running in double digits. And then there were the gas shortages. There was a lot that we Baby Boomers were upset about and we were determined to make a change.
Fast forward to today and the same thing is happening, except this time we are the old guys screwing things up. We have now been mired down in wars in the Middle East for the past 20 years. It seems like an eternity. The rich have gobbled up a giant share of the prosperity. Job insecurity reigns. The idea of being loyal to one company and retiring with a pension is now non-existent.
So, it seems the same things are happening with the Millennials. They are unhappy because of the way the old guys in Washington are messing things up. But this time the “old guys” are us Boomers.
The emerging divisions between the young and old may once again become a cultural fracture. We Baby Boomers were an audacious bunch. We moved through society doing a lot of grabbing. Wages were rising, cheap houses were readily available. We may not have been rich, but at least we felt secure in our jobs. And, we really screwed up royally when we let a proudly ignorant, extreme narcissist take over the Oval Office. Too many Baby Boomers voted for him because they were fed up with politics and simply didn’t know how to fix the problems.
If only we had used some of that power we obtained in our early years to help make our society stronger. We did a lot, but there was much we ignored in favor of self. We could have done much more about climate change we were warned years ago about it. We could have done more to insure that our country followed the rest of the developed countries and provided health care for all our citizens. We could have done more to regulate a runaway capitalism.
The young Democratic party hopefuls are shouting loudly about things they want to change. There is Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal. There is 37 years-old Pete Buttigieg who thinks it’s time to bring common sense back into Washington. Almost half of the Democratic candidates are below 50. They want to take over deciding what America will look like in the Post-Trump years. I kinda think they should.
It’s time for us to let them try to do better than we Baby Boomers did.