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Business - Written by on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 23:44 - 5 Comments

Silent Generation lives up to its name

OK, first off, I need to stop betting on Presidential elections. Not only am I 0 and 2, I’m 0 and 2 against self-made wealthy men named Don. And, on Saturday I am going to make good on my Dukakis bet; hopefully, I’m not charged interest and penalties that may have been accruing for 20 years.

Our friend Neil Howe has written extensively about generations.  He was the first person that I know to recognize the Silent Generation (birth years 1925-1942) is the only generation in American history never to have one of its members elected President. John McCain was almost certainly the last chance. Joe Biden is actually born in the last year of the cohort, but he would likely be 73 before he would have a chance to run. In fact, this generation across the board has been under-represented  with respect to public service.

On the other hand, President Obama is the first President from Generation X. Sorry Dad, that’s one for me, none for you.

Grammar corrected.


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Nov 5, 2008 10:27

Illiterate generation, more like. “It’s” with an apostrophe is a contraction of “It is”. The apostrophe stands in for a missing letter. “Its” without an apostrophe is the possessive pronoun, akin to “his” or “hers”. Please use it correctly. Even we generation Y folks notice.

Nov 5, 2008 11:58

Obama is not a GenXer. As many influential experts and publications have repeatedly pointed out, Obama is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Xers.

Here’s a recent 5 minute GenJones video which features many top pundits (including David Brooks, Clarence Page, Dick Morris, Juan Williams, Karen Tumulty, Howard Wolfson, Michael Barone, etc.) specifically talking about Obama membership in Generation Jones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ta_Du5K0jk

Mike Dover
Nov 5, 2008 12:25

EG, thanks for the post and the video.

Many agree with you including David Foot, author of Boom, Bust, and Echo.

Personally, I go by Neil Howe and William Strauss’ definition which lists Gen X starting in 1961.

Don Coote
Nov 6, 2008 21:02

Early in a politically-active life, one is required to decide to be a king or a kingmaker. In times of opportunity, the answer is generally king maker. In times of less opportunity the answer is king. The period referred to is an era of opportunity. So the bright political lights become king makers, not kings.
Therefore, no presidents from this era-group.

Steve jones
May 1, 2009 3:50

I subscribe to Howe and Strauss’s definition of generations; however, I believe Obama is a Boomer. It is unlikely the first X-er elected president be a Harvard educated media savvy American. Time will tell if the American electorate was truly wise to elect another credit card boomer vs. practical depression era Silent.

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