Why the Boomers seem to have gotten more conservative

aging hippie

Like you, I love a good generation gap story.

So I enjoyed Kai Wright’s big, bold piece in The Root today about how the Baby Boomers started idealistic, sold out, and destroyed Earth and how it’s now up to their children (like Wright and me) to fix it.

But the problem with this fun, familiar let’s-psychoanalyze-a-generation-as-if-it-were-some-dude-from-Milwaukee sort of narrative is that a generation isn’t a single person. It’s many people, some of whom capture the public imagination one year and others the next.

So let me float Mike’s Theory of Generational Aging to explain Wright’s underlying observation: that Boomers seem more conservative now than they used to.

Here it is: People with revolutionary impulses tend to become prominent when they’re young, radical and energetic. People with institutionalist impulses tend to become prominent when they’re old, well-informed and well-connected. Thus every generation appears to grow much more conservative as it ages.

In other words, it’s always the old to lead us to the war. It’s always the young to fall.

- posted by Mike

(photo by DavidDennisPhotos.com under a Creative Commons license)

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2 Responses to Why the Boomers seem to have gotten more conservative

  1. Mike says:

    For another day: My pet rant about the “Silent Generation” being responsible for all the good stuff the Boomers get credit for in the popular imagination.

  2. guyintheblackhat says:

    *applause*

    I completely agree with your thesis, and can confirm the idea (at least in German studies) that most of what the post-war kids did was pick up the pieces of the 1920s they found lying around…

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