by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
We are being told something happened on Saturday that was not only important, but will define a generation. The New Yorker made this triumphant statement: “It is, at least, a generation that has now defined itself. Regardless of its long-term effects, the March for Our Lives is the first major statement by Americans born after 1999, who have presented a new template for protest.” Such statements are nonsense, and history shows us why.
The Parkland student-fronted anti-gun-rights movement is not the first time teenagers have been painted as a progressive and powerful force that will overturn the legacy of their terrible predecessors. The Baby Boomers, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, resemble these protesters in myriad ways. They were a big generation absolutely dedicated to social and political change. Or so it seemed. …
… Twelve years after the summer of love, in 1980, when these would-be transformers of society were in their early 30s, Ronald Reagan, arguably the most conservative president in modern history, was elected. Fourteen years later, while the Boomers were in their 40s, Republicans took over the House of Representatives for the first time in almost five decades.
The Boomer generation gave us three presidents. The first was Bill Clinton, whose entire political program was based on moving the Democratic Party back toward the Right to erase the gains Reagan had made among conservative “Reagan Democrats.” The second was George W. Bush, who launched the biggest and longest wars in American history since Vietnam, Boomers’ signature point of protest in the late ’60s. The third is Donald Trump, who ran a successful campaign using a new brand of white identity politics.
To put it bluntly, the long-term results of the hippie generation that was meant to transform America and its politics was basically more of the same.