Boomers & Barack Obama

by Melissa Clouthier | October 14, 2008 4:57 pm

How much of the Barack Obama lovefest is rooted in Baby Boomer narcissism? That’s the question that occurred to me while contemplating why so many in the generation ahead of mine seemed so excited and irrationally so, about Barack Obama or even Hillary Clinton becoming president. The worship takes turns both comical[1] and disturbing[2]. The mindless devotion has undermined any notion of media fairness–maybe irreparably so. Yet they don’t care.

The quick answer: Boomers view Barack Obama as the symbolic fulfillment of an ideology put forth when they were conducting love-ins and peace protests (that weren’t very peaceful). Fighting for civil rights and equal rights and pacifism and free love, the radicals and idealists dreamed of a future where a person like Barack Obama exists. Their efforts resulted in a man like Barack Obama.

Barack Obama is the child of Kenyan[3] socialist[4] and sociologist who was a 17 year old teen-mother[5] (soft treatment here[6])–an idealogue and an intellectual. He is biracial. His parents divorced. And he was raised, for a time, by a single mother. He received an elite education. He was schooled in the best institutions of higher learning.

In short, his success illustrates the rightness of the Left’s ideology. Barack Obama is a confirmation of the hippies’ hopes of change. Before the Boomers pass from this life into the next, they want to see the evidence of their rightness. Nothing would be better than a man like Barack Obama as president. The point is, it doesn’t have to be Barack Obama–the who doesn’t matter so much. It’s what he represents that matters. Barack Obama represents a physical manifestation of what the Boomers were talkin’ about when they were talkin’ ’bout my generation.

The only thing standing between the hope and changiness came from a Boomer herself, Hillary Clinton. Both candidates represent a struggle to overcome prejudice and discrimination. Both carry with them the symbolism of a generation’s dreams coming to fruition. This explains the outrage by the women following Hillary who were offended by the Obama campaign’s shameless sexism and misogyny. That the Left employs homophobic and misogynstic tactics doesn’t surprise conservatives. In fact, it was amusing to watch the identity politics crowd tie themselves into knots trying not to state the obvious.

Still, it is clear that for the Boomers, this fight feels as real as when they were 18, wide-eyed and hoping to change the world. For the next generation, the Generation X’ers, the angst and eagerness doesn’t feel as acute. In fact, in a world where, as Kenny Rogers sings, the best rapper is white and the best golfer is black, American culture feels pretty darn post-racial and post-gender. At least that seems true to anyone 45 and younger.

One reason Barack Obama receives little press scrutiny and in fact, loads of press-love, is because so many of these pundits cut their teeth on identity politics and dreamed an impossible dream. Well, this election it’s possible. Barack Obama’s rhetoric about this time and this place and he’s the dream, blah, blah, blah, means so much to them because it’s about them. Their marches mattered. Their free love is justified. Single parents can raise great kids. Education changes lives.

Of course the truth is far more nuanced. And while no one is claiming that sexism or racism is non-existent, it surely doesn’t define American culture these days. It’s interesting to note the generational differences. When charges of racism have been lobbed at Governor Palin she ignores them and goes after Obama as a peer. Joe Biden in contrast, looked perpetually pained interacting with Sarah Palin. It’s a generational thing that revealed that he saw a woman first and then a politician. Most younger people see both Palin and Obama as politicians who happen to be a white woman and a bi-racial man.

For Boomers, electing Barack Obama is about them, not him. They feel so invested not in the candidate, but in themselves. These politics are personal and pathologically so. Should Obama lose, his supporters lose a chance to manifest their dreams for a generation. They act as though the opportunity would never come again, but that’s patently absurd. The fact is, the hippies want to drive the multi-culti, equal rights, liberal car while they’re still young enough to enjoy it. Barack Obama is just one more hippie-to-yuppie acquisition. It’s all about them.

Cross-posted at[7]

  1. comical:
  2. disturbing:
  3. Kenyan:
  4. socialist:
  5. who was a 17 year old teen-mother:
  6. here:,8599,1729524,00.html

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