The headlines and punditry are consistent: The Boomer Generation has had its Presidents (aka Clinton & Bush) and with Barak Obama is passing the mantle to the next generation….which is…still the Boomer Generation. Born in 1961, President Obama falls within the chronological confines of our generation (b. 1946-64), but more importantly, he really couldn’t be more Boomer in his ideals and characteristics.
Yes, I know, there’s the contrived if not fluctuating configuration called “Generation Jones” made up of junior Boomers and those a few years beyond (GenJ has been noted to start as far back as 1954, and can go up to 1970…I was born in 1954, and I promise you, I’m all Boomer).
And I understand the drive to find some sort of label for those who are not Boomers, yet not GenXers (e.g. anyone born between 1965 & oh, say around 1967, since thereafter those born to the first boomers, e.g GenX, began arriving). Finally, I understand, and agree, that there are many born at the end of the Boomer era, say between 1960 & 1964, who look, act and feel more like GenXers than Boomers.
But that’s not Obama. He personifies all the things Boomers believed in, fought for, and achieved in our youth:
- A world free of pollution and poverty
- That all have the same rights that theretofore had been given to only a select few
- Elimination of the corporate corruptions that keep the poor poorer, make the rich richer, and stain our nation’s policy-making and global credibility
- Ending a war the conduct of which has damaged our reputation throughout the world
Don’t let the fact that we Boomers strayed from our ideals, mislead you younger folks to think that what Obama believes and instills in you is an idealism of a new generation.
He is bringing back to you what we started, but alas didn’t continue. From his mixed race heritage and his decision as a young man to work as a community organizer (Boomers were the first true “activitists” as a generation), to his “laid-back” personna, he lives and breathes all that characterizes Boomers.
As Mike Phillips, a confirmed old White Boomer from Salem MA says so well:
“To those of us who marched (maybe not physically, but at least in spirit), with the leaders of the civil rights movement. With Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and all of the un-named others. With those who were killed, assassinated or suffered other injuries because of their beliefs.
But most of all, to the followers. Those of us who are un-named, who endured the violence and repression and vilification. Who weathered the dogs, the police, the fire hoses. To those of us who confronted the bigotry, the racism, the defamation of human beings because of the color of their skin, as we followed.”
Obama is a Boomer who, as an adult is getting it right, something many of the rest of his generation didn’t do.
He’s a Boomer, alright. Just a Boomer who didn’t lose his youthful ideals as he reached manhood, and used them well even as he struggled to create a career and support a family.
And oh boy I couldn’t be prouder of him!
Obama is certainly not a Boomer. Nor an Xer, for that matter. As you are apparently aware, many prominent experts and publications have pointed out that Obama is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and GenXers. I don’t know what you mean when you say GenJones is fluctuating…I’ve only seen its birth years given as 1954-1965, over and over again. And contrived? How is this generation anymore contrived than any other?!
This link takes you to a page you may find interesting: it has, among other things, excerpts from publications like Newsweek and the New York Times, and videos with over 25 top pundits, all talking specifically about Obama’s identity as a GenJoneser:
Among what I found to be a number of compelling arguments for Obama’s membership in GenJones on this webpage was this poll from a few months ago:
In polling conducted July 31- August 1, 2008, a nationally representative sample of 500 U.S. adults, all born in 1961, were asked:
“Do you consider yourself to be a member of the Baby Boom Generation,
Generation X, or a lost generation in-between (usually called Generation Jones)?”
22% chose: Baby Boom Generation
57% chose: Generation Jones
21% chose: Generation X
Just as the baby boomer generation has seen variations on its years and numbers, I have with GenJones, usually starting and ending a tad later.
But, I’m wonderin if what is of greater importance here is my thinking that this label is contrived.
In my opinion, what makes it so is the reason for its existence in the first place.
Baby boomers are so named due to a statistical “baby boom” – a demographic fact. GenJones, GenX, GenY, etc thereafter, were created in response to that, not as a result of something statistically relevant.
And to me, this is fine, but contrived nonetheless in order to provide a generational identity, and interestingly, identities that are developed in comparison to Boomers (since these are children of Boomers…makes sense).
The thing that is most fascinating to me about the GenJones concept is that it reaches back into an area populated by full-blooded Boomers, which I mentioned in my Obama piece. I am very Boomer at age 54, as are all those I’ve interviewed in the years of study of Boomers I’ve conducted. I find those born throughout the fifties fully identify as Boomers.
Where I begin to see some lack of Boomer identity is once we get to those born in the early ’60’s end of the boom…but just as many say they’re very much Boomers and proud of it. I’ve heard from folks born in 65/66 who say they thought they were Boomers…
So, I begrudge none who wish to disidentify (boy…I just fabricated that word…) with being a Boomer, and instead create and then branch out into a new identity.
I do, however, distinguish between one created as a result of demographic significance and those that have been, well, contrived, so as to create a generational identity where otherwise there would be none.