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01-14-05, 07:31 AM
Generation Jones

January 14, 2005

by Tom Purcell


Finally, I have my own generation -- Generation Jones -- and it was my generation that handed President Bush a second term.
According to Jonathan Pontell, a sociologist and author, a large chunk of Baby Boomers are not Baby Boomers at all. Those of us born between 1954 and 1965 have little in common with the first wave of boomers, but nobody has articulated this fact until recently.

When boomers were indulging in drugs and free love, we were doing our homework. While they were driving around in VW Beetles and protesting the Viet Nam war, we were watching The Brady Bunch.

The boomers had reason to be idealistic, you see. Shortly before they were born, American might defeated great foes in the Great War. Our economy was booming. The future was theirs to take and run with, and, boy, did they party hearty along the way.

Our chance finally came. As we entered college, we sought to leave our own mark, but the party was over. During our lives, the idealism of Kennedy gave way to the Nixon fiasco. We had little to be idealistic about and even less desire to protest. The first wave of boomers left the country looking like the muddy grounds of Woodstock after the concert was over.

Reagan was president when I entered college and we were as practical as he. We re-embraced simple American values -- hard work, thrift, worrying about the future. Few were idealistic when I was at Penn State in the early 1980’s. Most kids studied engineering and accounting in order to get ahead. If anyone staged a protest, only two or three people showed up, and they came to sell hot dogs.

After college, my generation remained in the shadow of the first wave of boomers. They continued to set the trends. One trend was to abandon their youthful idealism to cash out in the 1980’s and 1990’s. To grab that money, the marketers created most products, movies and television shows just for them.

But something had been happening all along. My generation had been waking up. We realized we had little to do with the first wave of boomers. And as we enter middle age, we have begun speaking up. We’re tired of being force fed the leftovers of the boomers ahead of us. We’re tired of being hidden in the shadows.

Which brings us to the 2004 election. According to Pontell, while the pundits were looking at traditional voting patterns and trends, virtually all of them overlooked the most significant one: the Generation Jones trend.

In every swing state, the folks born between 1954 and 1965 went for Bush by sizable margins. We went for Bush for one simple reason. Kerry was THEIR candidate, the kind of fellow that made the first wave of boomers swoon.

He talked from both sides of his mouth. With an air of superiority, he lectured us on Republican greed and the country’s need to sacrifice for the poor, while he lived in mansions. He reminded us his initials were JFK, too, and that he had an idealistic vision for America’s future.

But we didn’t buy it. We made our voice heard in huge numbers -- 53 million Americans are part of Generation Jones, and many of us went for Bush. He has his peccadilloes, to be sure, but his values were more closely aligned with ours.

Interestingly, female voters in the Generation Jones era were the biggest factor in Bush’s win. Whereas women in all other age groups favored Kerry, the Jones women went for Bush. As a result, in every swing state that Bush won, Generation Jones was the deciding factor.

I’m happy to learn that I’m no longer a boomer and that I have my own generation to hang my hat on now. It took us awhile, but just because middle age is overtaking us doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a good party.

The Bush inauguration might do the trick.

Tom Purcell