Generational identity politics is one of the least successful efforts of the Left.
I remember being back in college when Boomer academics were launching an effort to convince Generation Xrs that their generation was the problem. The problem, of course, was not the generation, but, just like every generation, its worst elements.
Especially those on the Left.
There’s now a revival of generational identity politics with the OK Boomer sneer by Twitter lefties. And Obama got invited. (Warning: New York Times.)
When Barack Obama talks, everyone listens.
That’s why I paid close attention to his remarks about young people and our activism on social media at a Tuesday Obama Foundation event, and why I gasped at what I heard: “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff. You should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids. And share certain things with you.”
He doubled down on his finger-wagging, criticizing college students in particular who, in his view, think, “The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people and that’s enough.’”
“That’s not activism,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.
Unlike a lot of conservatives, I didn’t bother blogging about these remarks when he first made them. There’s always been two Obamas. The actual guy and the rhetoric. And the rhetoric is sometimes noble and idealistic, it just has nothing to do with how he does things.
“There aren’t two Americas,” was a great line. It just didn’t actually represent him. Neither does this.
But the flip side is that lefty revolutions end up devouring everyone. That’s why generational identity politics still persist.
His eagerness to dismiss one part of what happens when young people stand up for what they believe in as “casting stones” is a reminder of a largely generational divide about whether it’s impolite to speak out in favor of the most vulnerable among us and the world we’d like to live in. While there’s some debate about which generation Mr. Obama belongs to, he’s solidly in the older camp.
Boomers and Gen-Xers, along with a handful of younger people with more regressive views, have been agitated by the way many young Americans — and especially young people of color — use social media, the only platform many of us have, to talk about the causes we care about.
But they are going to have to get over it.
The headline on this garbage is “Obama’s Very Boomer View of ‘Cancel Culture’”
Obama was born in 1961. Boomers, Generation X, etc are not solid boundaries defined by some sort of international body. Some definitions might place Obama at the very tail end of the Boomer era. But he’s Generation X. And I say that as one of the Xers.
The New York Times screed conveniently rolls X together with the Boomers as one of the wicked, older generations. Meanwhile it claims that millennials and Zers are “young people” who mostly have the right views.
This generational identity politics nonsense was originally peddled to Boomers when they were young. And, in various forms, it’s been peddled for centuries. It’s always the same line that the newest generation has the right attitude to society and has to fight its elders.
And then the younger generation becomes the enemy.
Hey, it happened to Obama.