Dispelling the Myth of the Liberal Baby Boomers

by Troy M. Olson

Most of my political mentors are Baby Boomers, many of them would be considered politically left of center in America. However, the boomer generation is not a liberal generation, and never really was, especially in comparison to the so-called more “conservative” Generation X and of course, the Millennial generation.

Absent protesting the Vietnam War and voting for McGovern in 1972, I would argue that the Baby Boomers were never really liberal in any meaningful way. First of all, their support for McGovern was very much tied to his opposition to Vietnam, which by that election had dragged on for nearly a decade while many young people at the time faced the reality of the draft.

Foreign policy and international relations cannot be properly categorized by a left – right political spectrum, and often today, just comes down to mere partisanship. Therefore, protesting and opposing an abstract, perpetual, unwinnable war that you could be drafted into fighting against your will at any point isn’t a liberal value, or a conservative value, it was simply a basic human self preservation instinct.

Vietnam is culturally one of the most enduring symbols of Boomer liberalism in America. Opposing the Vietnam War has little to do with liberal values anymore than eventually opposing the Iraq War makes everyone a revisionist Democrat around 2008. Boomers have consistently been a self-identifying, “conservative” generation.

Self Identification by Generation

This is not a case of the Boomers getting more conservative with age either, another popular myth that has no basis in fact. Political ideology is actually quite static over time. Over the course of twenty years according to Gallup, the ideological spread has been just 4 for Baby Boomers. Between the four generations in the Gallup survey, only Generation X has shown any significant degree of political volatility within their self-identified ideology.

Generational Political Ideology

Perhaps the only significant indicator of the Boomer generation by this self-identifying measure is that an already conservative generation has arguably becommore conservative during the Obama era. Marriage equality, no matter your political stripes, has been a defining issue whether you are a foot soldier in Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News “culture war” or morally see it as the “Civil Rights” issue of our time.

Pew Graph on 2015 SSM by Generation

Since 2005, Millennial support for marriage equality has grown by 24 percent, Gen X support has grown by 15 percent, and Silent generation’s support has grown by 16 percent. Lagging behind in support, even with the lead up to this summer’s landmark Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, is the Baby Boomers with 9 percent. In other words, your grandparents may have come around on your same-sex marriage lately, but your parents are more likely to not be so sure.

Episode 2: Insults from the Great Beyond

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Despite all the odds, we’re back with another podcast! This week Troy, Jered, and Pat are back to talk a little more about the fates of the Minnesota Twins, the Economy, the Korean Peninsula and the Democratic Presidential candidates! So what are your waiting for? Click here to listen to this week’s episode!

After two episodes we’ve decided it’s time for a week hiatus from the podcast world (fantasy football season is upon us). While there won’t be a podcast next week, stay tuned for a number of exciting blog posts from Troy “too many points” Olson.

Episode 1: Not a Trainwreck

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Well thanks to the dictatorial WordPress powers that be, we were unable to directly upload this week’s podcast. However, the  power of the internet and it’s loyal army of hyperlinks have made it possible for you to enjoy the first episode of our podcast by clicking here.

Check out an epic discussion between Troy, Pat and Jered that some are describing as “not a trainwreck!” Exciting topics include the Republican Presidential Nomination Chaos, the Fall of the Minnesota Twins, and the potential for one lucky host to walk away $1 million dollars richer by the end of this NFL season. So what are you waiting for?  Click here to listen now!

Agreeing Loudly from Coast to Coast

Hello everyone! He shouted into the empty abyss. My name is Jered Weber and my friends Troy, Bill, Pat and I thought starting a podcast would be a good way to stay in touch as we spread across the country (San Francisco, Minneapolis and New York City). Was this a mistake? Probably. Are we still moving forward? Definitely. So join us as we agree loudly about a variety of topics including politics, pop culture and sports.