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To My Millennial Children: It’s Up to You

Robin Alexander

Posted on April 28, 2018 19:51

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When Cameron Kaskey - survivor of the Parkland shooting - was interviewed by Bill Maher he ended with, “To all of the generations before us, we sincerely accept your apology. We appreciate that you are willing to let us rebuild the world that you ‘messed’ up.” I loved it. I hated it. I hope they do it.

I’ve long thought my generation, the baby boomers, dropped the ball big time. That ball was floating high, but since the 80's, it took a long slow dive like a hot air balloon with a pin prick. It now lies crumpled on the floor. I thought we were changing the world.

Picture the March for Jobs and Freedom (1963) when a quarter million Americans listened to MLK advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans. Picture half a million boomers descending on Washington for the Moratorium March (1969). Picture the May Day protest (1971) with the rallying cry “If the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.” Picture the Supreme Court passing Roe v Wade 7-2 (1973). Some of the same people elected Ronald Reagan. Huh?

I first noticed a change in the early 80's when former hippies were morphing into yuppies after “their fling with counterculture." Turns out that when some boomers inherited power, it went to their heads (key word is “some”). This scenario, the one where the Democrats became Republican-lite, is the scenario of the privileged. It always comes down to class.

The “best and the brightest” of the Democrat boomers is epitomized by Bill, Barack, and Hillary: Ivy League educated, affluent, professional, powerful. That’s who they are and that’s who they represent. That’s why Joe Klein writes, “Boomers allowed the influence of concentrated money to corrupt our democracy.” Yes Republicans were also responsible, but the Democrats stopped resisting.

As Thomas Frank, political analyst and historian explains to Jimmy Dore, “Trade was the great betrayal, where the Democrats slipped the knife between the ribs of their ally, organized labor and working class people.”

As Frank further clarifies to Katie Halper, “When they passed NAFTA they said ‘we don’t have to worry about those people; they have nowhere else to go’”. (And that, by the way, is why Trump won). The fact that today’s Democratic Party is completely out of touch with rural/rank-and-file America is evident in their powerlessness at every level of government. Still, they’d rather lose to a Republican, than win with a Progressive.

As Janan Ganesh writes, “in its effect, if not its intention, the 1960's were a gift to capitalism. Its emphasis on the individual reinforced the market, not the revolution . . . Individualism led to sexual freedom, artistic innovation and a questioning of authority, but also prepared the ground for the economic reforms of the subsequent decades.” He’s talking about Clinton/Obama reforms: NAFTA, the murder of Glass-Steagall, the subsequent Wall Street bailout.

Remember, boomers were the original “Me” generation. Since we nurtured millennials we’re probably responsible for their lousy reputation. However, since Bernie did better with younger, as well as less affluent voters, I need to believe that millennials will pick up that ball, fill it with something technologically superior to hot air, and stay true to Progressive principals.

Robin Alexander

Posted on April 28, 2018 19:51

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Local governments face retiring baby boomers and ever-moving millennials.

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