Now that former vice president Joe Biden is officially joining the 2020 presidential race, it’s become clear that it really is time for America to cut the mic on the boomers — and their older brothers, too.
Y’all have been in charge way too long.
And whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on there, millennials.
Stop cutting in line. (I’m looking at you, Mayor Pete.)
Hi. Gen X here. We’re that little in-between generation, the tugboat sandwiched between two supertankers, trying to navigate the turbulent waters the mega-generations created.
We’re in our 40s and 50s, having survived the chaotic, adult-centric, latchkey, Tequila Sunrise-soaked childhood boomers created for us. And now we’re left with figuring out how to fix the hot mess of a world — climate change, a historic wealth gap, shattered pensions, a festering culture war, growing global instability — that the folks in power have masterminded.
Even the plain, hard facts of history are saying it’s time to go.
The average age of an American president?
Hello, that’s Gen X. That’s senators Kamala D. Harris (54, D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (52, D-N.Y.).
It’s almost Sen. Amy Klobuchar (58, D-Minn.), who falls in the same space as former president Barack Obama, 57, and right in the window that barely made them late boomers but not really Gen Xers.
Other solid Gen Xers are Sen. Cory Booker (49, D-N.J.), former housing secretary Julián Castro (D and 44) and former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D and 46).
It really is Gen X’s turn.
We may be only 25 percent of the population, but we make 31 percent of the total U.S. income, according to Forbes.
We’ve founded 55 percent of the nation’s start-ups, according to a study by multinational software firm Sage.
Nearly half of us live in multigenerational homes, where we’re raising the next generation while caring for our elders, according to a Pew study. Our responsibilities span the American experience.
And sure, millennials may be digital natives, but Gen X built the dang bridge to the digital world that they’re crossing.
President Trump was 70 when he was inaugurated, the oldest man to take on the job of president in U.S. history. (Ronald Reagan was 69.)
And now we’re fixing to talk about Sen. Bernie Sanders at 77 and Biden at 76 in the driver’s seat of a divided and complicated nation? They are even older than the baby boomer generation, which started in 1946.
All three white men leading the polls are too old to even renew their driver’s licenses in California without retaking the test.
No, I’m not being ageist here.
There is nothing like the wisdom and verve of a seasoned person who continues to live life with gusto. Especially when it comes to women, many of whom raised families and had to beat down the walls of misogyny to get their turn at the helm (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (79 and a D from California), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (86) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (the Democrat from Massachusetts who is 69), among others.
But once we elected Obama, it seemed like we were ready for the logical progression of leadership, for the coming generations to take over the reins, to not pull a Queen Elizabeth and hang on forever.
And then — bam! Trump’s election whiplashed us back to the baby boomers’ darkest traits.
My case for Gen X for President was established by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe, who published their first work in 1991, Generations, the History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069.
These guys broke down centuries of human history to find a pattern of cycles.
It’s more complex than this, but, basically, human history repeats itself in four cycles:
— Crisis (a war, depression or other era of destruction)
— High (recovery from that crisis and the unity and prosperity that follow an escape from death and destruction)
— Awakening (individuals begin to rebel against institutions, grow increasingly self-centered and less community-driven)
— Unraveling (a full-blown rebellion against institutions, which are weakened and distrusted)
Any of this sound familiar?
Yup. And in these phases of human history, generations take on the personalities of their times.
The boomer presidents entered life during the human High cycle. Their childhoods were hula hoops and hopscotch, Howdy Doody and Leave It to Beaver, if you were white like them. That comfort gave them the confidence to go into an Awakening cycle.
That’s when the boomers gave us antiwar protests and the civil rights movement. They were about making love, not war.
They were also the people who fought in the Vietnam War and the people who spat on veterans when they returned. They were the people sitting at lunch counter protests and walking into desegregated schools with a police escort. And they were also the ones whose twisted faces screamed at them.
And it’s time to move past that.
Gen X were the offspring who came in during the boomers’ Awakening and Unraveling. Our parents were both the hippies and the wolves of Wall Street. And we are experts at surviving both.
It made us the repairers, the fixers, the uniters.
Our historical soul mates — the folks born during the same generational cycle as we were — are George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower. See the pattern?
That means George Washington was the Gen Xer of his time.
According to the generations theory, the millennials should be the “Heroes.”
They should be the idealists to lead us in a more unified, prosperous and peaceful place.
But first, let Gen X build that bridge. We’re good at it.
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