Gen-Xers Gave Us Obama's America
Optimism for conservatives in the aftermath of the re-election of President Obama is difficult to find, in spite of the faith many conservatives espouse. What makes it even more distressing for many conservatives of Generation X is that our generation has given us Obama's America. Thus, to try to find some answers as to what just happened, Gen X must analyze and take responsibility for Obama's re-election.
Gen X was born into the final years of America's adherence to any real semblance of constitutionally limited government. That America rebuked Nixon for his Watergate misbehavior, voted out Carter for his fecklessness, and chucked Bush 41 for breaking his tax promises. The electorate in those days was certainly partisan, but by the same token, those voters demonstrated that they had more moral and political clarity than do today's voters. Tragically, the electorate that held the aforementioned presidents accountable for their failures seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Today's electorate does not appear to care about personal integrity, nor about competence demonstrated by actual measurable results, nor about being a truly transparent leader when selecting a president.
Let us look at that history to shine some light on what led us to the outcome of the 2012 election. Gen X's great-grandparents escaped the misery of the Old World during the great immigration of the early 20th century, yearning for individual American freedom prosperity. Those immigrants passed on that entrepreneurial spirit and a grateful patriotism to Gen X's grandparents, who then survived the Great Depression and, as the Greatest Generation, defeated Hitler and Imperial Japan. The Greatest Generation passed on post-WWII prosperity and peace that afforded their children -- the Baby Boom Generation -- access to education, wealth, and freedom unlike anything ever experienced in any nation. The Baby Boomers went on to create what are essentially modern-day miracles: sending a man to the moon, creating the personal computer and the internet, and pioneering amazing advances in medicine that have extended the lifespan of people around the world. With all that innovation and prosperity, Boomers passed on to Gen X an America that was even greater than what they had received.
But the Boomers also passed on a dark side that Gen-Xers have allowed to brew corruption within us.
In the summer of 1969, the Baby Boomers birthed both Apollo 11 and Woodstock. Both were remarkably powerful historical milestones, the former of the virtuous side of the Boomer generation and the latter a demonstration of its dark underbelly. History has shown that Gen X has taken its lead more from Woodstock than from Apollo 11. Add to Woodstock the hippie movement, the feminist movement, the Black Panthers, the anti-Vietnam war protesters, the pro-Palestinian sympathizers, the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the like. This dark side was very seductive, and it was highly influential on Gen X, which developed a silent, seething, and likely unconscious rebellion against the traditions and values that created America's prosperity.
Instead of technological miracles, the expansion of liberty, and post-Civil Rights-era racial unity, Gen X has in its anti-establishment spirit given the world gangster rap, hardcore death metal music, the sexualization of the culture, the explosion of abortion on demand, post-Judeo-Christian New-Age anything-goes-religion, post-American educational indoctrination, gay marriage, the support for open borders, and so on. Hence, America finds herself in the second term of a president whose values are those of Woodstock ("make love, not war," stand up to the "man," smoke up/toke up, truth is relative, etc.) rather than of Apollo 11 (hard work, ingenuity, civic responsibility, adventurism, self-reliance, love of country, etc). In spite of the close to half of Gen X who are conservatives, it is that generation which has brought America to this cliff.
America's leadership for one hundred years has shepherded our nation's leftward lurch, and Gen X's choice of Barack Obama is in part a byproduct of this leadership. In 1913, America allowed for the establishment of the federal income tax and saw the ascension of the first Progressive president, Woodrow Wilson. There was a short conservative reprieve in the 1920s with Harding and Coolidge, followed by 24 years of Progressivism under Hoover, FDR, and Truman. We then experienced moderate leadership under Ike and JFK, who did not reverse any of the overreaching progressive policies that preceded them. Following this moderate period, America got a hugely liberal Progressive in LBJ, a Republican Progressive in Nixon, a gentrified moderate in Ford, and a waffling liberal in Carter.
Reagan's first term was a clear conservative reset, but while Reagan never stopped preaching conservatism, his second term was marred with progressive amnesty for illegal aliens and the cockamamie scandal of Iran Contra. Bush 41 followed the out-of-touch mold of Ford, doing nothing to advance conservatism and nothing to stop progressivism. Clinton was a big-government liberal who would have thrust more progressivism on America if not checked by a few conservatives in Congress. Bush 43 proved to be a mishmash of ideologies -- overly adventurous with his war policy (though after 9/11 it was fully warranted) and overly generous with his compassionate conservative domestic agenda, which basically consisted of a progressive health care plan, a liberal approach to illegal immigration, and a drastic expansion of federal spending. Under Bush 43, the conservative and Republican brands were degraded and became instrumental in fomenting a hostile public backlash against Republicans.
In 2008, the Republicans feebly attempted to sell McCain, who was essentially Bush 43-lite, but the foaming hatred of Bush 43 was so furious that his specter and McCain's moderate non-conservatism gave Gen-Xers every reason to rush to the polls to vote for Barack Obama, thereby elevating an ideologically leftist, progressive, and collectivist individual to the office of president. A nice fellow like Mitt Romney, cut out of the same bland political centrism exhibited by patricians like Ford and Bush 41, had little appeal to Gen-Xers. Gen X preferred Obama, a glamorous Hollywood-type who hosts hip hop concerts at the White House, does spoken-word comedy routines on TV with Jimmy Fallon, and waxes eloquent on which college basketball teams are likely to advance in March Madness. Hence, Team Obama carries the night in 2012.
America may have a conservative revival again, but with Gen X passing its degraded values to our heirs, the Millenials, my hopes for such a revival any time before our nation collapses under the weight of its bloated, corrupt government are slim. May we all find the strength in whatever faith we have to carry on, as we don't know what the days ahead will bring.
John Steinreich is the author of The Words of God, a comparison of the Bible and the Quran, which can be found here.