First Gen X president-electPosted: Thursday, November 6, 2008
Barack Obama not only broke the color barrier Tuesday night, he also became the country’s first president-elect from Generation X.
How this will shape his actions as president is yet to be seen. Expect a pragmatic approach to fixing the problems created and exacerbated by our generation’s next-elders.
Now comes the hard part: as Hemingway wrote in The Sun Also Rises, “The bill always came. That was one of the swell things you could count on.”
The challenges ahead will be arduous. Any sort of honeymoon will be brief, and as much as the press corps will need to adapt to working even harder, Obama too will need to relax on his tight message-delivery, a hallmark of his successful campaign that may not work as well as Leader of the Free World who will need the press as much as the press needs him (or what’s left of the media, after continued short-sighted corporate gutting).
But if anyone has shown the ability to embrace new situations and pragmatically adapt to new circumstances, it’s the new president-elect. In fact, it’s just another asset of our generation.
Or take Obama’s brand-delivery throughout the campaign. Obama’s direct messaging to the voters through his Web site and through text messages was resoundingly successful, but it likely appealed most to the Millennials, even more than his own (and my own) cynical generation that disdained the conformity of brands, as Peter Feld in Advertising Age put it (via LifeCourse.com). The Millennials, as Feld points out, seem to love the larger community of associating with a brand, be it an iPhone or a candidate, which certainly plays into the civic and communal aspects Strauss & Howe predict for them.
Call it further proof of Generation X’er pragmatism in adapting and recognizing a trend before anyone else dose — it’s how Obama built a movement that defeated the Silent Generation’s John McCain and the Baby Boomers’ Hillary Clinton.
And don’t discount the influence of our own generation. With Barack Obama’s election, Generation X has proven that, in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges ahead for the country and fear and racism still existing in the minds of some voters, all we care about is getting the job done and electing the best person to do it.