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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

X Rising

Tired of generational analysis of politics? You know, the assumption that this or that pol represents the world-view and/or aspirations of the age cohort into which he or she was born. If so, you’ll love this comment from Dana Goldstein at TAPPED:

Sure, the experience of living through Vietnam and the student protest movement indelibly shaped politicians like Clinton and Mitt Romney. But every generation has its liberals and its conservatives, its hopeful optimists and its hard-nosed power brokers, its intellectuals and its businesspeople. Furthermore, a “generation” is almost impossible to define in any self-contained way.

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Makes abundant good sense, eh? It’s sort of like the reason I’ve always had a hard time taking astrology seriously (apologies if I offend any astrology fans here). I mean, really, I’m supposed to believe I have more in common with a Bangladeshi hemp farmer who happens to be a Virgo than with, say, my Sagittarian father? To a lesser but still significant extent, I have the same objection to generational typecasting.
Moreover, Dana’s right: generational definitions are a little squishy. She notes that Barack Obama, the purported avatar of post-baby-boom politics, is himself a baby boomer, having been born in 1961. When the term “baby boom generation” first came into use, in the 1960s, it was applied to people born immediately after World War II, from 1946 to 1952. At some point it was extended to 1960. Now, apparently, the line between baby boomers and Gen Xers is 1964.
So maybe we need to start defining Barack Obama as a “baby boomer with X rising.” Or better yet, find another way to describe him altogether.

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