Sunday, October 5, 2008

On not being a boomer and politics

The other day I found myself in an email conversation with some old college friends. We're scattered all over the country, now, but once in a while something gets us talking.

This time it was Jill, asking about whether or not we thought of ourselves as members of the baby boomer generation. This group of people graduated from college in 1986, and were all born in or near 1964. Depending on who you talk to, that may or may not have been included in the baby boom, but I know I was never a baby boomer by culture.

I could call out all kinds of things about my youth to make the point - like the fact that the Beatles were already broken up before I was paying attention - but for me there's really only one thing that matters all that much 40+ years later: my first political memory.

Without research, I can't even tell you when it was. I was still a kid, and tracking events in time wasn't something I did much of. I remember it was an evening, the TV was on, and my parents were watching something that seemed serious. I was bored out of my mind and probably running around. I distinctly remember being told to shut up and sit down because what was on the TV was important!

I did so, at least for a while, and do you know what it was? Nixon was resigning.

My first taste of politics was a president quitting office. If that doesn't setup a generation's worth of negative political expectations, I don't know what will.

In previous posts in this blog you've seen me express some of my opinions about both the major presidential candidates. Of the two, I have a strong preference for Obama, but that doesn't mean I trust anyone in power, even him. That's a mistake I try not to make. And with my first political memory being Nixon's resignation on Aug 8, 1974 - when I was 10 - can you blame me?


  1. a boomer's take - I was half way around the world, surrounded by non-English speaking folks except for a lone couple from NY, while we heard the news and took only small comfort in the fact that the transition would be bloodless and not a coup. That heads of state resigned or lost power in scandal suddenly, this was a normal experience for many around us - my North African hosts, my new European friends. We had watched this day slowly arrive and Nixon haters as most of us were by then, we found it hard to be comforted by the surreal situation other than we believed the constitution worked. Today I have less faith.

    1974 American Abroad, AFS to Maroc,
    born at the far end of a boomer generation, but politically absolutely in the middle of it. I moved back to the Bay Area just in time for the Summer of Love.

  2. You, your other friends born in 1964 (and Sarah Palin, born 1964) are all members of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Xers. Don't miss this brand new 5 minute video featuring a bunch of famous national TV personalities discussing GenJones here:

  3. I would stand with the definition of boomer to describe a person who was born during the Post-World War II baby boom between 1946 and 1964.

    Of course that may be political, but even the census bureau relies on self identification ;-)

  4. Irene: I hate to disagree with a friend, but I cannot possibly self identify with the Baby Boom generation. Your definition of the boom - which is (or at least was) widely accepted - would make me a part of it, but I had absolutely nothing in my childhood that would make me a part of it culturally. I therefore opt out.

    octobersurprise: that's an interesting video, but my innate suspicion of all things causes me to wonder at the motives of those making and promoting it. Still, it did introduce me to the Generation Jones concept - something I wasn't familiar with before. Thanks for that. I cannot yet claim to be convinced that I'm a member of Generation Jones, but based on age and relevant cultural things going on at the time it seems at lot more likely than being a Boomer or a GenXer.

    All of that being said, I still cannot bring myself to trust anyone aspiring to the office of the president. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and there is a LOT of power that goes with that office.

    I'll vote for Obama, but I won't particularly trust him. I'll trust him more than I would McCain, but given what McCain has done to his legacy in the last few months - I think he'd sell his mother to get into office - I don't think that's saying much.

  5. I think you can claim not to be a boomer easily - 1964 does make a fringe datapoint anyway ;-) I was referring more to myself (born 1957). Sorry if I wasn't clear.


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