First 13er President: A Gen X Independence Day

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“As they reach their turn for national leadership, 13ers will produce no-nonsense winners who will excel at cunning, flexibility, and deft timing.”

—Neil Howe and William Strauss, 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?

I’ve written before that 2016 was the first Gen X Election. And that Donald Trump would be the first Gen X president. Not because he’s an Xer, but because he personifies our coming-of-age view of the world.

Note:  I use 13ers and Gen Xers interchangeably. Historians Howe and Strauss called the generation born from 1961 to 1981 “13ers” before Douglas Coupland coined the term “Generation X.” Howe and Strauss were referring to the fact that we were the 13th generation born in America.

Donald J. Trump symbolizes the 80s and 90s. The 80s and 90s symbolize Gen X.

As I wrote last February in This Is the Gen X Election:

I’m not saying all Gen Xers will vote for Trump. I am saying the Gen X attitude that formed in the 1980s and 1990s has finally pervaded the generations on all sides. Just as the Boomer attitude, hatched in the 60s and 70s, didn’t really seize full power until the  Clinton administration.

Howe and Strauss had more to say about Gen X leadership in 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?:

If 13ers turn out like every earlier generation of their type—Lost, Gilded, Liberty, and Cavalier—they will ultimately become a stellar generation of get-it-done warriors, able to take charge of whatever raging conflicts are initiated by their elders and bring them to successful conclusions. In the tradition of George Washington, Ulysses Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower, the most memorable 13er Presidents may themselves be ex-generals. Military or not—and regardless of sex—13er leaders will be cagey, jockish, unpretentious, inelegant with words, more inclined to deal than to argue, and more admired for their personality than for their vision of learning. As they come to power around the year 2020, younger voters will view them as a welcome change from the ponderous, principles-first Boomer style. In public, they’ll come across a bit shallow. But, as any 13er already knows, low expectations can be a game you can use to your advantage—in a poker game or in the White House.

Trump is probably 4 years ahead of his time if Howe and Strauss’s calendar was correct. It’s possible that conflict between the Washington establishment and the Trump administration owes to Gen X’s early arrival in power.

But it’s also possible that whenever one of these generations of Nomads reaches power (“Nomads” is the Howe and Strauss name for Gen X’s archetype throughout history), conflict ensues. Nomad generations reach power at the end of Crisis eras, usually just before the climax. Previous climaxes were:

  • The Revolutionary War
  • The Civil War
  • World War II

Why should our Nomads get off any easier than those generations of Nomads?

It’s also worth noting that the national leaders of those eras were, like Trump, members of the Prophet generations that precede Nomads in birth order. Most of the presidents of the Continental Congress during the Revolution were, like Peyton Randolph, born before 1724, the start of the Liberty generation. Lincoln was born in 1809, 13 years before the first Gilded was born. FDR was born in 1882, but the first Lost was born in 1883. So, Trump’s timing is historically perfect.

The biggest difference between Gen X and Boomers: pragmatism over principles.

Boomers will blow up the world to prove a point. Gen Xers will find a way to survive.

Think about that. Think about the Boomers begging Trump to “do something” about Russia. The Boomers seem okay with nuclear war now. Ready to end civilization in a series of mushroom clouds. The generation that once donned bumper stickers reading “You can’t hug your kids with nuclear arms” is ready to push the red button and end it all. Maybe that name “Boomer” has gone to their heads.

Fighting for human survival is the generation of slackers. It’s not that we’re unprincipled. It’s that we think principles are evil if they require the destruction of our culture, our civilization, or our species. Or maybe we think principles apply to personal conduct, not to public policy. Either way, survival comes first.

And this gets us to the point of why we Trump supporters are so hell-bent on seeing our mission through. This is why we will tolerate, even applaud, our president’s most outlandish and most “modern day presidential” acts.

It is our mission. Howe and Strauss gave it to us in 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?, published when we were kids in 1993.

Yes, 13ers do have a mission. Theirs is the American generation that history has charged with the task of cleaning up after everybody else’s mess . . . So too is theirs the generation charged with showing others how, in this millennial era, Americans can still enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” without letting the world fly to pieces, without bankrupting the nation, and without squandering scarce global resources.

Do the dirty work, have a little fun, help the kids behind them. Not bad. Let other call 13ers “underachievers.” They can take it. We, their elders, will never live to see how their story turns out. They will. The rest of us can only imagine how, when their job’s done, they’ll look history in the eye, give a little smile, and move.

It’s pretty clear Donald Trump has adopted our generation’s mission as his own. I call on the “principled” Boomers and the other generations to shut up, get out of the way, and let us get on with the job of cleaning up your messes.

And we’re getting too damn old to argue about it. As I warned last February:

The Buchanan Brigades are running the show, now. While the establishment could still produce the next president, he or she will be unable to govern, I’m afraid. The divisions are too many, the chasms too wide, the trust too broken, the economy too leveraged.

We’ve been warning the establishment for decades that we’re not gonna take it. They didn’t listen.

But something tells me they’re listening now.

It’s Gen X Independence Day. Get out of our way. This isn’t about unity. It’s about survival. There’s a difference.

BONUS: A great primer on generational history.

 

Missouri’s 2016 Electorate Very Different from 2012

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When it comes to the number of potential voters, 2016 is shaping up to be a watershed year in Missouri politics.

Take at look at this chart of generational voters in 2008 and 2012:

(Source: Missouri Census Data Center)

Where Did the Millennials Come From?

Leaving biology out of it, it’s simple: 2016 will be the first election in which the entire Millennial cohort is old enough to vote. Plus Millennial-aged immigrants have increased their numbers.

A generation is roughly 20 years. The youngest Millennials were born in 1997. In 2012, Millennials born after 1994 were too young to vote. That’s 20 percent of the generation, or about 15 million people nationally. In 2016, the entire generation will be 18 by election day.

In Missouri, Millennial voters increase by 475,000 or 41 percent. Gen X was pretty much flat, as expected. Boomer population is down 136,000 and older generations (WWII and Silent) are down 140,000.

Put it all together: 2016 will see a 740,000 person shift from the most Republican-leaning generations to the most Democrat-leaning generation.

Why This Matters

The two most conservative generational groups, Boomers and the combined WWII/Silent generation, are declining in population. The conservative Generation X is stable. And the Democrat-leaning Millennials are growing.

According to Fusion.net:

Conservatives need to understand that if we do not engage and activate young voters in 2016, we will lose in big numbers. Saying “young people will never vote Republican,” is the same as saying, “we’ve already lost.”  Millennial is the largest generation alive and the largest voting generation going to the polls.

A lot of conservatives seem to think the people who vote in 2016 are the same people who voted in 1980 and 2012. This fixed-population thinking gives rise to fantasies about voters who stayed home in 2012 because Mitt Romney didn’t inspire conservatives. Actually, the drop-off in Republican voters in 2012 was because they died.

Specifically, of the 9.8 million Americans who died between election day 2008 and election day 2012, about 5.38 million were Republican voters–which accounts for the entire difference in votes between Romney and McCain.

To win in 2016, Republicans must either win over a lot of Millennial voter or get a lot of those Millennials to stay home.

How to Win Millennials

Don’t pander. (Why GOP Pandering to Young Voters Backfires.)

Thirty-one percent of Millennials have not decided whether they lean Republican or Democrat. But that probably means they won’t vote. Still, Republicans could pick off a few of the undecideds to make the Republican-leaners a little tighter with the Democrat-leaners.

Of the 26 percent who lean Republican, candidates must make sure they go to the polls. At the same time, Republicans have to hope that events and candidates somehow discourage the 43 percent of Millennials who lean Democrat.

Besides terrorism, younger voters are most concerned about jobs and the economy. They also expect leaders to lead, not make excuses and point fingers. Most Millennials are not whining narcissists and separatists demanding “safe spaces” free from dissent.

Young people, like the rest of us, want leaders who lead.

That said, some Republican schtick will not work at all. Scoffing at wealth-inequality won’t fly. Instead, young people want to know how it got so bad and how we can flatten the curve.

Republicans should recognize that when wealth becomes concentrated in a few hands, things go bad. Depressions, world wars, insurrections, and revolutions happen.

Further, Republicans should be bold in explaining why wealth-inequality ballooned since 2008: Federal Reserve policy and federal government policy. By insulating the largest banks and corporations from their own failures, the government made an already skewed playing field nearly vertical. Moreover, government policy, both legislative and executive, has protected large incumbents at the expense of competition and smaller insurgents. That’s why the number of small banks has declined 14.1 percent since Dodd-Frank became law.

Government policy, student loan debt, and regulations also deny young people opportunity by discouraging entrepreneurship. In 2015, more companies went out of business than were started. That’s never happened before in my lifetime.

Republicans need to remind young voters that the surest way to level wealth distribution is to create a lot of new businesses. Sure, most will fail, but the ones that succeed will grow the economy, provide jobs, and give a new group of people a chance to experience the American Dream.

Republicans should also remind voters that no one’s dream is dependency on a government bureaucracy. The American Dream is to own your own life, according to Lee Presser. He’s absolutely right.

Our Myths Are Losers

If Republicans and conservatives are to win at the ballot box, we need let go of the myth of the discouraged conservative voter and embrace the reality of the rising Millennial power. We do that by speaking truth, even if that requires letting go of some of our favorite but false narratives like “wealth inequality doesn’t matter.”

Conservatives can win over a lot Millennials if we let go of our myths and face problems head on. Begin with the problems of Millennials, not conservative problems with abstract ideas. As Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute says, lead with the people we want to help.

One conservative myth–a myth we tell ourselves–is that it’s our job to protect the wealthiest Americans. It’s not. They don’t need our help.

Instead, we should have the courage to admit that our policies will help the 99 percent. Unlike our opponents, we don’t seek to hurt the rich, we just don’t seek to help them, either. Nor do we seek to create more millionaires. If that happens, great, but that’s not what we’re working toward.

Instead, conservative policies are meant to give everyone the opportunity to live a meaningful, productive life.

That message, backed by clear, sound policy, will win the Millennial’s heart and mind.

 

I’m Pissed That I’m Pissed

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Are you tired of being angry?

Did you know that a lot of other people are tired of your anger?

Did you know that 70 percent of Americans don’t like politics?

Did you know that the 70 percent of Americans who don’t like politics won’t vote for anything an angry person tells them to vote for?

Go look it up. It’s totally true.

So many conservatives want another Reagan, but they want an angry, vengeful, belligerent Reagan. They don’t want the real Ronal Reagan, the Gipper, the Happy Warrior. They want the Terminator.

But the pursuadable voters who hate politics hate Terminators. They like Gippers.

Senator Jim Lembke posted a brilliant bit of leadership on Facebook last night:

My pastor shared with me recently that that he is limiting his facebook time because all the negative post relating to our country and culture. This made me think. Why are we as Christians, why are we as conservatives often so negative about the state of things. I think it is because we realize how God has blessed our country. We realize the wonderful legacy left to us by our founding fathers. We love our families, neighbors and communities. We want all to prosper and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe we should start taking a page out of the playbook of Ronald Reagan and address the hope, love and desire we have for all our fellow Americans to prosper.

Thanks, Jim. We needed that. I needed that. I’m pissed that I’m pissed so much, and it’s all my fault.

I’m the one who decides how I react to circumstances. I don’t read Viktr Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning often enough. (If you’ve never read Man’s Search for Meaning, you haven’t started living.) I need to read it once a month. (It’s a short book.)

Leadership isn’t flaming the rage people feel. Leadership is giving people something to do. Inspiring action that makes lives better. That pursues happiness, defends life, and advances liberty.

Millennials will be the largest voting generation in Missouri in 2016. They’re young. They’re not old enough to vote fear and anger. They’re still voting hope and happiness.

If we can’t give them hope and happiness, someone else will.

And if we offer fear and anger and Millennials vote the other way, I will understand completely.

Thad Cochran’s Pyrrhic Win

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit (another term for this would be “hollow victory”).

— from Wikipedia

I keep some things in a little box in my bedroom. Some Navy and submarine mementos, some letters, favorite photos of the kids that mean things only to me.

In that box are a few political reminders, too. Some Reagan campaign buttons from 1980 and 1984, Jack Kemp stuff from 1988, and a series of Republican lapel pins, buttons, and ID cards from 1980 through 1996.

Yes, I was a proud Republican for a long time. An old high school friend of mine liked to mock me for introducing myself as a Republican. It’s what I led with.

In 1996, I struggling to keep a little company afloat while working full time as an IS manager at a small healthcare company in St. Louis. I was also writing an online column three times a week. Financially, things weren’t so hot.

But politically, things were looking up. Republicans had taken the House of Representatives for the first time in my life. Democrat President Clinton was at the bottom of the polls. The Democrats had abandoned HillaryCare, and real welfare reform was assured.

Then, the Republicans nominated the only man alive who could lose to a weakened Bill Clinton. When Tony Bennett said, “We win!” at Clinton’s election night party in 1996, something came apart in my mind. Or in my heart.

Because of that troubled, pained revelation in 1996, I could feel Dan Riehl’s pain last Tuesday as the Cochran-McDaniel fiasco peaked.

I honestly hate seeing a thread of tweets like these. Dan’s a good guy who believes in liberty. As you’ll see, he’s a true Reagan Democrat who bought Reagan’s message of freedom and liberty and believe Reagan’s message was the Republican message. Like many of us, Dan has realized that the GOP never bought Reagan’s message. Republicans simply rode out the storm until Reagan rode off into the sunset.

  Yep.

Money talks, purpose walks.

So McConnell and the GOP establishment made their wish come true in Mississippi. They sold their souls to crush a purpose-driven conservative and preserve a fossil for another round of fundraising with the Chamber of Commerce.

At what price? From Politico:

The scope of the effort to suppress activist-backed candidates has been broader and costlier than is widely understood, covering at least 20 House and Senate primaries from North Carolina to California, and from coastal Mississippi to the outer tip of Long Island. The loose coalition of establishment forces encompasses two dozen advocacy groups, industry associations and super PACs that have raised and spent millions on behalf of Washington’s chosen candidates.

That’s why I’m taking it easy for the 2014 election. I’ll support Tony Pousosa  for St. Louis County Executive and a few other excellent candidates for various offices. I’ll vote, but a lot of my votes will go to the candidate I deem most likely to maximize my freedom and power, not the candidate the GOP chose for me. And when I talk to people, I’ll encourage them to look beyond the establishment parties we’ve been told are the only choices.

In Mississippi, the Republican power decided that crushing a principled grassroots candidate was more important than saving the republic. They won that battle. And they might win a few more this year. For many reasons, I think the GOP will do well in 2014’s general election, too. Might even win the Senate. I won’t be surprised at all if November brings news of the end of the tea party (again), and the return of the Republican Establishment.

But 2016 could be a very different story. Between 2014 and 2016, about 4 million reliable voters will die. About 2.8 million of them are reliable Republican votes. The deceased will be replaced by about 5.8 million new voters from a generation with a strong libertarian streak that grows stronger every day.

This Chamber of Commerce GOP of the 2010s has given Millennials no reason to consider the Republican party its political home. In Mississippi, the Republicans validated Millennial’s distrust of institutions. And in 2016, Millennials will decide everything.

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. — Plutarch

So, congratulations Mitch McConnell and Thad Cochran. One more victory like this and it’ll be the end of you.

Good riddance.

You might want to read:

The New American Political Dichotomy

What To Do About the New Dichotomy

Why We’re The RINOs

The American Masque of the Red Death

Why Don’t We Have an Anti-establishment Party?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’m totally envious of Europe, and I think two American generations can fix it for me.

Gen X (born ~1961 to ~1981) is a thoroughly anti-authority generation. Millennial (born ~1982 to ~2002) is a completely anti-institutional generation.

It’s time for these great generations to get together and form an anti-establishment movement. Maybe even a party.

Check this out:

A new poll surveying young Americans’ political attitudes released by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics Tuesday found millennials have less trust in government than ever before.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/poll-millenials-have-historically-low-levels-of-trust-in-government-2014-4#ixzz32lyajNI8

To an anti-authority, liberty-loving Gen Xer, that’s the most beautiful paragraph in the history of polling literature. As Pete Townsend said, “the kids are alright!”

Not that the Millennial folk will listen to me, but I gotta say they’re 100% right in distrusting government. The US government, their state government, their school board. Every level of government is a trough that big corporations fill for the satisfaction of the elected swine. Government’s like a big pig farm.

Last night, I took my son Patrick to Ballpark Village on our way home from Fast Eddie’s Bon Air.  It was his 21st birthday. BPV is an awesome place, but it was bought with taxpayer dollars–and without taxpayer input. In other words, Fox Sports Midwest and the DeWitt family stole Missouri’s ATM card and PIN and withdrew 19 million of your tax dollars to build an amazing sports and drink palace.

The DeWitts (and others) get the profits; you get the costs. Wonderful.

That’s an example of why Millennials think government is the cousin of lies. And that’s why America needs an anti-establishment movement, if not an anti-establishment party.

This movement or party, or both, will have a very narrow focus: reducing government activity to a few, necessary tasks. Kinda like Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution.

The party will ignore the “issues” establishment uses to keep us divided. Stuff like gay rights and public prayer. Those are important issues, but the establishment uses them to keep us fighting about minutiae while it steals our power and freedom. So we won’t play their game.

We won’t field our own candidates. Instead, we’ll cast negative votes in both establishment parties to deny them their traditional constituencies. Negative votes might include voting for third party candidates or skipping offices where the choice is more of an echo.

Most importantly, we’ll use our personal power to influence public officials. We won’t harass and protest; we’ll smile and converse. We’ll lobby like paid lobbyists, even though we’re just people.

We’ve learned our lesson. Yelling at politicians only makes them stronger. We’re not doing that anymore. Now, we’re talking. And smiling. And connecting.

Look, Gen X and Millennials together are an overwhelming force. We both hate the establishment. Let’s get together and destroy it, shall we?

Bob Marley

This Is Why I Feel Sorry For Millennials

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Doctor Viktor Frankl was a neurologist and psychologist psychiatrist in Vienna, Austria. He founded the third branch of Viennese psychological therapies, logotherapy. But his life changed drastically when Austria capitulated to the National Socialists.

Viktor-Frankl

The Nazis interned Frankl. He spent time in four concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau. For three years, his captors made him dig ditches for railroads and water pipes, and fed him a slice of bread an ounce or so of soup a day. The Nazis destroyed the only copy of a manuscript he’d worked on for years. The Nazis killed his mother, his father, his brother, and his beloved wife Tilly. They beat him repeatedly. They forced him to sleep on a bed of boards six feet by eight feet with nine other prisoners and only two blankets.

To any reasonable person, Frankl lost everything but his life. He lived at the whim of evil people bent on exhausting his usefulness before feeding him to an oven. Frankl, though, didn’t see it that way.

He refused to concede that others controlled him. Sure, they limited his physical movement, they deprived him of his property, they killed his family, they dictated his activity. But he retained the most important aspects of humanness.

Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.

Viktor E. Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning (Kindle Locations 28-29). Kindle Edition.

Viktor Frankl survived the death camps by miracles and attitude. He went on to become one of the most acclaimed psychiatrists and humanitarians of the 20th century. His story and his teachings inspired millions of people around the world to turn their lives around.

What did Viktor Frankl have that America’s young people today lack?

It wasn’t intelligence or opportunity or caring parents or great schools. It wasn’t physical strength or stamina or great networks of powerful people.

What Frankl understood that young Americans don’t is something far more important than any of those things.

Frankl had a powerful internal locus of control. He believed that, no matter what cards life dealt him, he was responsible for his attitude and actions. Not someone else, him.

A 2004 study shows that Americans have lost their internal locus of control, and that’s sad. It’s depressing. And it’s part of the reason young people vote for authoritarian government.

The study by Jean Twinge, Liqing Zhang, and Charles Im found that American college students of 2002 had more external locus of control than 80% of their 1960 counterparts. The authors describe locus of control this way:

People who believe they are in control of their destinies have an internal locus of control (“internals”). Those who believe that luck and powerful others determine their fate have an external locus of control (“externals”) (Twinge, et al, 2004).

Believing that luck and powerful others determine your life has a terrible effect. According to the study:

The results are consistent with an alienation model positing increases in cynicism, individualism, and the self-serving bias. The implications are almost uniformly negative, as externality is correlated with poor school achievement, helplessness, ineffective stress management, decreased self-control, and depression [emphasis added].

Externality ultimately leads to a feeling or belief that one’s life has no meaning. It’s nihilism run amok. It leads to suicide of the mind, soul, and body.

When people ask “how could the German people give into Hitler’s maniacal schemes?” they get answers about the Treaty of Versailles, hyperinflation, and German culture. Those aren’t the right answers. The answer is, at least in part, Germans in the 1930s had a powerful external locus of control. They’d been told and believed that their plight was not a result of their doing but the work of “powerful others.”

Logically, the Germans looked around to find who these “others” were. And they found the Jews. They also found a “powerful other” named Adolf Hitler who promised to punish their tormentors and unite the scattered tribes of Germany into a master race that would rule the world forever.

What the world needs—what young people, in particular, need—is a dose of Frankl’s logotherapy. The whole of America needs that. I need it. I read Frankl’s short masterpiece, Man’s Search for Meaning three times in the past week. It’s a very quick read—you can read it in a day.

Pick up a copy . Read it. Buy three copies, and give two away.

If America is to survive, it will need a cultural attitude shift. That begins with you. And the attitude must be forward, not backward, looking. It must involve action—positive action toward that which gives you meaning.

Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

Viktor E. Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning (Kindle Locations 854-855). Kindle Edition.

How do we shift this locus of control from the outside to the inside? How do we help young people accept that they, not “powerful others,” decide who they will become?

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the wrong answer. If you feel compelled to simply blame teachers and schools, government and RINOs, Democrats and television, then you’re lost in an external locus of control.

Frankl exhorted Americans to balance the Statue of Liberty on the east coast with a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast. We who sit around blaming others might be correct in assigning blame, but we’re only reinforcing the deleterious attitude that we are powerless to change our lives and, thereby, our world. It’s irresponsible to point to others and expect them to fix it for us.

That’s a sobering revelation for some, but it should also be an inspiring thought. YOU HAVE THE POWER. It’s all within us.

Here’s the link to the 2004 study by Twinge, et al.