Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I recently submitted a letter that the editor posted in this paper reflecting on my younger days, and to the changes that the Baby Boomers brought about. As I had mentioned, I am from the very tail end of that generation, and I alluded to the fact that I did not consider myself a part of it. One lady on the online version of this paper pointed out the technicality that due to the fact that I was born in 1959, that I belonged to the generation, missing the point that I was trying to make.
Since I wasn’t old enough to participate in what those of the bulk of the generation who were born in the early part were doing, I didn’t feel the connection. I was 7 years old when the Boomers were protesting the Vietnam war. What I did get to do was observe the generation, and the many, many different aspects of that generation. The Boomer generation is so big that you really can’t generalize it, except to say that large segments followed different movements whether it was protesting the war, the anti-establishment movement, the environmental movement, or the disco movement; not everyone in the generation participated, but very large segments did.
Participation in these segments was like anything else, they followed a bell curve. You had your die-hards at the top of the curve, and then you had the many that had varying degrees of interest on the up and down side of the curve. The one segment that stands out is the antiestablishment-antigovernment segment. They protested the way government was leading the country, and the fact that the government was not listening to them. In some ways they had a point; a young man who turned 18 could be drafted into the establishment’s war, but could not vote to voice his position on the war. The Republicans are traditionally the representatives of the establishment, but the extreme segment that I am talking about focused on both parties rioting in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic convention of 1968. Tricky Dick Nixon’s actions exemplified the segments distrust for government.
In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan parlayed this segment’s distrust for the government to build his movement. He campaigned on the notion that the government was dysfunctional, and proved that point once he was elected. He convinced this segment that they would be leading the revolution that they had always pined for. They had their mantras, small government, no taxes, and no government regulations on our right to prosper. We are watching the breakdown of this segment’s revolution now as we see the economy collapse.
We are now feeling the ramifications of this extreme segment’s discontent for the citizens of this country moving away from their revolution. You see them flaring up as they had done in the 60’s and 70’s, protesting in the streets over the changes. The people who were considered radicals, the people who trusted no one in government are present today disrupting average citizens at town hall meetings. They are making every effort to keep citizens from discussing what changes they would like to see the government make by using the extreme tactics that were utilized in the 60’s and 70’s. Instead of calling the leaders of this country “pigs”, they now call them “socialists.” They still wrongly compare our leaders with the Nazi fascist of the 30’s and 40’s, as they had done in the past. Look at these radicals who are protesting the government, and you don’t see the youth of today, but rather those in their late 50’s and early 60’s, the elders of the Baby Boomers. The extremists will say and do anything to get their way, and keep their movement alive.
The segment of the Boomers I miss the most are the ones that represented peace, love, and understanding.
Aug. 9, 2009