In 1966, Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” was not an individual but a generation: people who were then twenty-five years of age or under. The Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, promised to change the world as we then knew it.
Boomers marched in the Civil Rights movement. They fought in, and protested against, America’s War in Vietnam. They were active in the Feminist movement. They led the fight for LGBT rights and equality at Stonewall and beyond. Many Boomers died before their time: from war or terrorism or crime or other forms of violence; from substance abuse, cancer or AIDS.
But, on the whole, Baby Boomers survived and prospered and changed the world along the way. I was born in 1953, which puts me smack in the middle of the Baby Boom generation. But I am not here to praise my generation. I just want us to retire.
The Baby Boomers’ moment of triumph came on January 20, 1993 when Bill Clinton became President of the United States. Since then, the Presidency has been held by Boomers: Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Except for Obama, born in 1961, the Baby Boomer presidents were all born in 1946, the first year of the Boom.
Even most of the major losing candidates were Boomers: Al Gore, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton. (John Kerry and John McCain preceded the Boom.) If he is re-elected in 2020 (God forbid!) Trump will be 78 when he leaves office in 2025. I am not saying that old folks cannot be effective leaders. Bernie Sanders would make a good president in 2021 when, if still alive, he will be 79. But it is time for a younger generation to take over, so no more Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden.
Fortunately, we have a younger generation candidates in the wings. These men and women are ready, willing and able to take over our country’s leadership. They belong to the two post-Boomer generations: Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, and the Millennial Generation.
These presidential hopefuls, so far, are all Democrats, since the Republican Party is firmly controlled by Trump (whose likely successor is his Baby Boomer Vice President, Mike Pence). Except for Elizabeth Warren, who was born in 1949, these Democratic hopefuls were born on the edge of or after the Baby Boom years: John Delaney (b. 1963), Kamala Harris (b. 1964), Kirsten Gillibrand (b. 1966), Julian Castro (b. 1974) and Tulsi Gabbard (b. 1981). Even younger is Peter Buttigieg (b. 1982), a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and an openly gay man.
Quite a group to run against the unjustified and ancient Donald Trump.
We who are Baby Boomers have had our day. We fought and died for the rights of all and sometimes we succeeded. But a generation that gave the world Donald Trump or George W. Bush or even Bill Clinton cannot be considered to be a total success.
Perhaps Elizabeth Warren can show us otherwise. Meanwhile, I welcome the newcomers to the political arena, to show us what a Generation X or Millennial can do.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.