The Generation to Blame | Teen Ink

The Generation to Blame

September 23, 2019
By craggcaroline BRONZE, Burbank, Illinois
craggcaroline BRONZE, Burbank, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

     I’m not nearly as naive as older generations perceive me to be. I’ve heard the phrase “You’re too young to understand” more times than I can count, each time a bit easier than the last solely because I’ve finally realized there is nothing wrong with my understanding of the world; I’m just a bit more updated than most septuagenarians are. I bet they would see my point of view if they had access to Instagram or Twitter or a reliable news source. Then I would laugh as the geezers realized the irony of their comments about naivety. 

    But, alas, teaching old dogs new tricks is not an easy task. Especially when the old dogs are actually old people, a faction of society so resolutely steadfast in their ways and beliefs that changing their minds might require a time machine. Sometimes it seems like they remember the days of racial segregation and a workforce without women and an LGBTQ community in hiding as if it were yesterday; sometimes it seems like they wish that was yesterday. And the common excuse I hear for this behavior, given primarily by Generation Xers trying to act as a buffer between the times, is that old people don’t know any better. Yes - the people we must respect, must obey - the four frontrunners of the 2020 presidential election that will determine the future of our country - don’t know any better. That’s reassuring.

     And you know what? Maybe they don’t. Maybe the America they remember, a prosperous post-World War II society characterized by traditional family values and the sweeping of social issues under the glorified stars and stripes, was a much simpler place. They didn’t have to leave their house everyday and worry about seeing a woman in a hijab or two men holding hands - they were surrounded by cookie-cutter white people in cookie-cutter houses. What a time to be alive. 

     Well, technically, economically, it was the time to be alive. According to The New York Times, baby boomers, or people born between the years of 1946 and 1964, were more wealthy than any preceding generation and ultimately reached peak income levels; however, their gluttony overcame them, resulting in one in five Gen X children living in poverty and the beginning of the crack epidemic. Arguably the worst generation, boomers inherited financial privilege, squeezed it to obscurity, and left it in tatters for their children. Senior citizens love complaining about Millennial leeches - but maybe the kids have more to gripe about. 

     It is important to note that the Baby Boomer generation is often split into two groups - the early boomers, and the later boomers. The former are often connected to the Democratic Party and the counterculture of the 1960’s, second-wave feminism, and the civil rights movement. Conversely, the latter is associated with the Republican Party and the military, law enforcement, and blue-collar jobs. However, the discrepancy between the two narrowed later in life; per Los Angeles Times, by the 80’s, boomers as a whole were more conservative, with many regretting the liberality of their youth. The 80’s was also the decade that Ronald Reagan came into power, lifted into the White House by the changing politics of the baby boomers. Reagan is credited with escalating the War on Drugs (which disproportionately affects black people and led to mass incarceration of people of color in the United States) and the stellar quote, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Boomers were also the largest age demographic to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Color me shocked.

     So, besides disregarding teenagers and voting an alleged rapist into office, how have boomers negatively impacted future generations? According to Vox, the United States used to have the best infrastructure in the world; there is now a $4 trillion deficit in infrastructure in delayed maintenance. The public education system is failing students across the country, particularly those with low-income backgrounds. And climate change - an issue scientifically accepted by the 90’s - was largely ignored by the people in charge then, and is still ignored by the people in charge now. A commonality between them? Birth years between 1946 and 1964.

Look - I know there’s something wrong with every generation. The Lost Generation was full of corruption. Millennials are often called narcissistic. Gen Zers are vaping their lungs out. But I can’t think of another generation that has handled our country so carelessly or screwed over future Americans more than the baby boomers. And unfortunately, the damage will probably continue for as long as they remain in high positions of power. I believe an evolving country requires leadership prepared to evolve as well; the United States is moving towards the future, a transition that should be reflected in our elected officials. Americans are a people of progress - something older generations struggle to provide. Us youngsters, meanwhile, represent both today and tomorrow, and we deserve better.

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