Joe Biden's Revenge of the Boomers

A revolution was abound, but boomers decided to sink it.

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Courtesy of Flickr by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

It would be folly to predict the outcome of the general at such an early stage, but if anything, the unprecedented increase in voter turnout among boomers and up signals what long has been suspected to be true–moderates are a dying breed in the Democratic party, and the future very much smiles brightly towards progressives. In the here and now though, this eagerness by the old to play pundit and collectively decide who’s electable and vote for them to dwarf younger turnout is feeding into a deep fissure within the party–young people are known to exhibit less signs of strong party affiliation, and this means if anything, that both major parties in America are starting to revolve around the interests of the old, much to the peril of the young.

For Republicans, the calculus is much easier to parse out–conservatism is a more compelling wholesale to a generation that grew up on a strict diet of chronic despair, dooming them to solidly become the party of the disaffected as hopes of a better future are getting fainter by the day. Democrats are frighteningly heading into that same direction–the old think they’re saving the young from themselves by emulating a pattern of voting that has historically been the harbinger of great catastrophe, while the young are getting fed up that their votes are essentially nullified by yet again another act of self-indulgent unsolicited mentorship.

This is shaping up to be boomers’ most-costly mistake–as they vie for stability, repulsed by change, they’ll realize soon enough that anything less ambitious than Sanders’ announced slate of proposals — most notable of which are the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-All — will make it increasingly hard for them to lead healthy lives in the future. Boomers may have collectively decided that younger people are politically ill-informed, but it will be ostensibly on the latter to shoulder the burden of the former’s slow exit from the rest of society–as welfare is coming increasingly under attack from both parties, the young will have to doubly pay the price by caring for those who’ve made it a sure thing that our planet will become an even harsher environment to survive under.

It isn’t then surprising that boomers’ theory of political change — or lack thereof — is a conflicting set of ideas about what the electorate prizes most–on one hand, they proclaim Biden to be their long-awaited savior from the grips of Trump’s GOP, but on the other, they’ve nixed their chances of ever courting the vote that will matter most in the future by making sure that the two-party stronghold on politics remains that of begrudged participation, rather than enthusiastic engagement. There had been signs already that Bernie’s young coalition had shrunk from 2016 — in no small part due to a contested convention — but where the buck is headed, seems to currently indicate that if young people will stick with the Democratic party, their votes will start automatically allocating themselves to insurgents, regardless if they are Bernie Sanders or not.

Less significant, but perhaps more important to consider, is the knock-on effect this will have on the global left–we’ve already seen legions of nationalists go out in droves and shape the politics of their home countries to become more authoritarian, repressive of human rights, and generally less accountable to process. Bernie Sanders was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove that a socially-progressive agenda could be a winner — even in what is indisputably the ideological beating heart of modern-day capitalism — but it seems like the revolution will have to postpone itself at least another decade, and by that time, the damage done could be so severe, that a progressive agenda wouldn’t make the slightest difference in amending wrongs past.

This is what’s often missed about discussions of progressive politics in America–that the youth have firmly placed themselves further left than mainstream democrats isn’t a surprise, it’s rather the futility of a distant nationwide progressive sweep that’s more disconcerting. Simply put, whatever impact progressive policy was going to have — as deep as it remains — it is now offset by a necessary tempering of expectations, given that conservative global temperature targets will be even harder to hit, and the young’s ever-deepening submergence into an ocean of financial plight will make it harder for them to recover.

The writing has been on the wall for quite some time–capitalism is starting to get rightfully viewed as the necessary step our collective society had to take to realize that better things are possible under the purview of more humane economic systems. Bernie’s bet on democratic socialism was successful in the sense that it drew out the recently-able-to-vote, but it was unable to resonate with a generation whose whole fabric was beaten down to a desperate pulp, as their aspirations of indefinite prosperity were crushed by the material reality they long feigned being so respectful of.

Useless as it may be to ask the question of “Who’s going to pay for it” now that it seems America is on sure track of yet another four years of measly federal expenditures — either under Biden’s rule, or Trump’s — it was always interesting to ponder what would happen if America were to wield its gargantuan economic might to aid those in dire straits. Much to progressives’ dismay, a much-needed change to how wealth is redistributed isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

After suffering last night’s blow, those still young enough to hold hope have to regroup lest they relent to the same desperation that thrust their elders into perpetual political inefficacy. Trump isn’t one enemy to defeat, and Sanders isn’t the one messiah that masses are to heed–all bets are now off against agents of neoliberalism, however favorably they try to paint themselves for people and planet. Bernie Sanders may have lost the fight, but he won the battle–it’s now up to young people to carry his mantle through, right up until greed and corruption are uprooted from Washington’s wretched soil once and for all.