Donald Trump was the fourth member of the baby boomer generation to be elected president, after Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is a boomer. Chief Justice John Roberts is a baby boomer. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is a boomer. President Joe Biden and President Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were born a few years too early to officially call themselves Baby Boomers, but they’re close. We live in the world that the baby boomers and almost the baby boomers built, and we are still building.
This is no comfort to young Americans. A 2018 poll found that just over half of millennials said baby boomers made things worse for their generation; only 13 percent said they had made a difference. Then there was the rise of the “OK Boomer” meme in 2019, a universal rejection of boomer politics and rhetoric. But baby boomers are a large group, like all generations. So is this a useful category for political argumentation? And even if so, what did the baby boomers do wrong?
Jill Filipovic is a journalist, former lawyer and author of “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk About It: How Did My Generation Get Left Behind,” an essentially economic critique of the left-wing baby boomer generation. Helen Andrews is editor-in-chief of The American Conservative and author of Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster, a dazzling cultural critique of right-wing baby boomers.
Filipovic and Andrews, both millennials (just like me), agree the baby boomers left our generation worse off; but they disagree on just about everything else, which makes this conversation all the more interesting. We discuss the value of generational analysis, the legacy of the sexual revolution, the impact of boomer’s economic policies, the decline of the nuclear family, the so-called millennial sexual recession, the crisis accessibility of the millennium, the impact of pornography, the criticism of the baby boomers is actually a criticism of technological change and much more.
(A full transcript of the episode will be available Tuesday noon.)
“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact check by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.