The traditional definition of the boomer generation describes the post-WWII boom of babies being born, stretching from 1946 to 1964, putting myself, born in 1962, in at the tail end. Boomer has also come to mean being the last generation of people who followed the traditional model of the twentieth century whereby children generally improved on the economic lot of their own parents.
The term misses the nuances of what we might call Generation P for punk, who came of age as I did, as a fifteen-year old when the shock waves created by punk rock, radiating from the bigger cities ignited the smaller northern English towns like the one I grew up in, in 1977. Punk Rock was songs like “Anarchy in the UK” by The Sex Pistols and “White Riot” by The Clash, whereas genuine boomers reached adulthood via the counterculture of the 1960’s embodied in the songs of Bob Dylan, like “The Times They Are A Changing.”
Today in Washington state in 2020 I find myself engaged in vociferous debate with some of the NYT/WaPo link-posting boomers on Facebook, who since Super Tuesday are somewhere on a scale of whole heartedly voting for, strongly leaning towards, or reluctantly voting for Joe Biden in the Democratic primaries.
I mention NYT/WaPo and other self-proclaimed carriers of the torch of the neo-liberal conscience of the nation, because when you click on these links you pretty quickly have to start paying money to be able to read the news stories therein. Most young people and a lot of us older folks who have seen our wages stagnate to near or below poverty level, are simply not going to cough up. If we do click on the link and are then being prevented from reading the article, with a plea to support the ‘independent’ journalism—without mention of the tax-evading billionaires who own these media giants—we are reminded, on a gut level, how these news organs, have consistently ignored the needs of the vast swathes of the population who are the poor multi-generational working and under classes.
This kind of willful negligence, embodied in the so called political ‘wisdom’ of the Democratic establishment, was a huge factor in why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. It may very well be repeated if Joe Biden is gifted the ticket, by the bump the corporate media and the establishment Democratic handlers have been giving him since South Carolina. And in 2020 it has reduced the political debate to mantra of simply getting rid of Trump, with the job of effecting meaningful change—now hopelessly personified by Joe Biden—added as an afterthought.
In other words, the change needed to improve the lives of the working classes and underclasses is not seen as important enough to merit immediate attention. To do so would mean having to question the status quo, aka the paradigm of ‘United States brand of capitalism as a non-negotiable force for good in the world.’ By contrast Bernie Sanders regularly questions the prevailing model, and urges the need for fundamental changes to the way of doing business as an immediate way of improving ordinary people’s lives. For instance, I witnessed his stump speech in Tacoma WA, where he implored necessary change for ‘the half a million Americans who go bankrupt every year because they cannot pay their medical bills and the half a million people who sleep rough on the streets every night.’ The consistently negative treatment of Bernie Sanders by the mainstream media, is precisely because he dares to question our existing dysfunctional-for-the-many system.
Joe Biden’s website boasts the flagship claim “Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead,” on its front page, directly addressing, not least, the boomers who are living comfortable middle class lives. Biden’s claim betrays the script as written by the NYT/WaPo for the boomer generation today. That they are conservative, that they did “lend a hand,” but only towards the model of incremental and/or regressive change, which lie ahead again in the promised land of the post Trump years.
Also, writ large in that slogan is a complete and utter lack of insight and empathy into the lives of young people. The “sons and the daughters” who were perhaps beyond the command of their own parents in the 1960’s are now the over 60’s boomers, parents and grandparents who have bequeathed to the children, the young adults and the under 30’s a world which may well at some point this century literally have no days ahead, as the voodoo-nomics of ‘endless economic growth’ drives the planet’s life support systems beyond the brink.
It is a world where people under 30 work longer and are paid less than what their parents earned; where elections are not necessarily won by the popular vote, and where a president who took their donations and promised ‘Hope’ was promptly bought by the Wall Street complex, and rewarded the banks who created the financial crisis, whilst paying customers were made homeless. It is a world, no thanks to Joe Biden’s past voting record, where the young and the poor and the working class are entrapped by debt, by surveillance, and by a bi-partisan approved military economy, which kills attempts at meaningful change dead on the House floor. And the NYT/WaPo tropes have the gall to employ cable news tainted scorn to dismiss Bernie’s attempt to get the youth vote out, with nil insight as to why the under 30’s might be suffering from Post Boomer Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of all of the above. It is an entrapocracy (sic), where subsistence compels working three-job-sixty-hour-weeks that are intended to keep us laboring against our own best interests. And Joe Biden promises more of the same. Or, as a punk rock song from 2020* opines, “Business as Usual …it’s our funeral.”
My plea to boomers is, before you vote, go fish out some of your old Bob Dylan records. Have some empathy and try to remember how it felt to be passionate about trying to bring about meaningful, system-wide social change.