Silents rising?Posted: Friday, May 16, 2008
The Clinton ego machine rolls on, continuing to try its best to produce the first-ever president from the Silent Generation, represented in the form of the 70-ish John McCain.
The New York Times had a good article on McCain’s generation a few Mondays ago. The article correctly echoes the research Strauss and Howe wrote about in their Generations book more than a decade ago when they, too, mentioned that the Silents have never had one of their own elected as president (the Times notes it as the generation born in the 1930s).
Born in and around the Great Depression, too young to fight in World War II, then raised and coming of age in the prosperous and mostly conforming 1950s, “smothered” and over-protected by their parents and society at large.
Re-reading that, I think of my son. Born in a recession in an era of protecting children (perhaps over-protecting, as witnessed by the vitriol over New York Sun columnist (and NYC-living) Lenore Skenazy‘s decision to let her 9-year-old son ride the subway alone), with perhaps a longer-term war underway and hopefully brighter economic days on the far side of all this (sometime around 2019, perhaps).
McCain’s is a generation that produced Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, an in-between generation, too young to fight the Great War (and gain the glory and amass the power while perfecting the institutions laid out by FDR), but also too old to be part of the future sell-out hippies of the Baby Boomers. As film directors, think 1930s-born Woody Allen or Clint Eastwood and Francis Ford Coppola — either neurotic or lyrical, but thoughtful either way.
I find this interesting not just because of the implications for my son and our future, but also because of this inter-generational presidential race — at the moment, it’s between members of three different generations. Hard as it may be to separate the issues of race and gender on their own, but think how each of the candidates formed their world views not only because of what they saw and experienced, but at what ages they were when went through these personality-forming experiences.
Ed. note: This post originally appeared on my Blogspot blog on Tuesday, May 16. But since the asshole robots at Blogger blocked me from posting new posts there (until further notice), I’m double-posting some stuff here.