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Common Dreams - December 22, 2019

"Bernie Sanders may not be perfect. I have criticized (in Counterpunch magazine) his stubborn and indefensible support for the Pentagon's basing of 18 hugly expensive and destabilizing F-35A nuclear-capable fighter bombers with the Vermont National Guard at Burlington's little municipal airport in his home state—a position totally at odds with his claim that the plane itself is a wasteful weapons system. But his faults pale in comparison with all the competition.

Hell! We all have our faults. But we Boomers had something in our younger days that was right-on: a commitment to peace and justice, a pacific preference for love over hate and war, a gut opposition to racism and later to sexism, and a willingness to take it to the streets to make our positions heard and responded to."

I keep reading that polls show young people—the so-called Millennial Generation aged 23-38— are overwhelmingly backing Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination (along with even younger voters) while the so-called Baby Boom Generation of people now aged roughly 55 to 75 are going for Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg or some other ossified mainstream Democratic pol.

Speaking as a Baby Boomer myself, and increasingly an admirer of Sanders, I gotta ask: OK Boomers, what's happened to you?

Think back: What were you doing back in the late 1960s when you were in your teens or early 20s as the Civil Rights Movement was finally winning the right to vote for Black people, when the Vietnam War was raging and classmates of yours were coming home in body bags? Where were you when President Nixon in 1970 urged Ohio Republican Governor James Rhodes to send the Ohio National Guard onto the Kent State Campus to put down a student protest against his illegal invasion of Cambodia, expanding an ugly war to yet another country, and the "heroic" guardsmen shot and killed four unarmed students? Where were you when we were all shattering the walls of prudery, experimenting with sex, the mind-freeing wonders of marijuana and yes, even LSD? Where were you as women and their male supporters suddenly stood tall and said that just having the vote wasn't enough; they demanded equality with men on the job, in the home, in politics and in their relationships?

We Boomers have been maligned in the media and by politicians since back when we were wearing bell-bottom jeans, when women were putting flowers in their usually long or frizzed-out hair, and when any guy with the slightest facial hair grew a beard or at least a mustache (lately, it's that we're keeping jobs from young people by not retiring, or rthat we're hurting their retirement future by opposing any cuts in our own benefits!) More importantly we were marching against war, against nuclear weapons and arms spending, and condemning the empty consumerism of our parents. In obtaining our attire from thrift stores and traveling the roads by thumb, we were challenging the premise of capitalism itself, saying that it wasn't what you owned that defined you, it was what you stood for.

We were reading the Realist, R. Crumb Comix, New Times and Ramparts, as well as writers like Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, Herbert Marcuse, Betty Friedan, Malcolm X, Marshal McLuhan and Henry Thoreau for our worldview.

And we were, for the most part I would argue, happier and freer than we are today.

Somehow, in the intervening years since the victory of the Vietnamese over the US invaders, the impeachment hearings and resignation of Nixon, the end of the draft, passage of the Voting Rights Act and creation of Medicare and Medicaid, and the at least partial liberation of women, we've lost our way. We got married, raised families, bought oversized and over-priced cars and houses, got sucked into being investors in IRA and 401(k) plans (trusting in stock markets instead of labor unions), and became consumers instead of people. We became better-off versions of our own parents. Some of us even became Republicans or Neo-liberal Democrats, worried more about our own gain than about those who were being left behind or crushed by what we used to call the "System," and ignoring what our nation was and still is doing to the world. ...
Read full commentary at Common Dreams