There’s nothing we don’t like more than a good indictment of the Baby Boomer generation, which the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, age 48, provides with a spirited indictment of the leadership qualities of the generation that spawned him.
“Hopefully, when Gen X comes to power it will repudiate the boomers and the entire legacy of this style of politics and move us toward something that is more pragmatic,” a political strategist tells him in his column today.
Trust me. Been there. Done that. Got the souvenir compression socks.
Baby Boomers, the same crowd that put ABBA in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, thank you very much, will probably put up some sort of spirited defense. But there’s one problem with trying: Milbank has a point.
They gave us the financial collapse of 2008, the worst economy since the Great Depression, a crushing federal debt and worse inequality. They devoured fossil fuels and did little about global warming while allowing infrastructure and research to deteriorate.
They expanded entitlement programs and are now poised to bankrupt those programs. Their leadership has led to declining confidence in religion, the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court, banks and big business, schools, the media and the police. They may leave their children (the millennials) worse off than they were.
Boomers, coddled in their youth, grew up selfish and unyielding. When they got power, they created polarization and gridlock from both sides. Though Vietnam War-protesting boomers got the attention, their peers on the right were just as ideological, creating the religious right.
Boomers are twice as likely to identify as conservative than liberal, a figure that hasn’t changed much in two decades. And Trump captures his generation’s selfishness: his multiple draft deferrals, his claim that he’s “made a lot of sacrifices” by erecting buildings, his vow to have huge tax cuts and massive military investments.
Milbank says there’s good news. Gen Xers, which he calls the cleanup crew, could take control of Congress by 2018. Then you’ll see. Because, he says, while Boomers are idealists — “same as the generations that led the United States into the Civil War and the Great Depression, Gen Xers are reactive — cynical and pragmatic.”
It’s going to be a snap. Just wait.