Report from America: June 26, 2006
June 26, 2006 | More from Henry Champ
Henry Champ is CBC Newsworld's correspondent in Washington, D.C., delivering Canadian viewers the latest developments in the U.S. political arena. Recently, he has been a leading Canadian voice on coverage of the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq and the growing concerns over the Canada-U.S. relationship.
A booming time in American politics
1:50 p.m. EDT
I am not an envious man.
I am also not a baby boomer - one of those born between 1946 and 1964. I am older than that.
For many years, I have stood by and listened as the boomers were praised for almost every one of mankind's achievements over the past half-century.
It was particularly galling in the 1960s, when the boomers were lauded for student protests, opposition to the Vietnam War, the miniskirt and modern rock-and-roll. I drew the line when they claimed the sexual revolution as their own. What was I, chopped liver?
In the decades that followed, it's just been more of the same from journalists. Magazines, newspapers and even my own employers in television have studied and opined on how the boomers were raising their children and dealing with acne. There were learned treatises on soccer moms, as we travelled with them to the suburbs and back to their urban condos. No group of humans was more studied - or fawned over - than the boomers.
So you can appreciate my reading and then re-reading an article in the Washington Post this weekend about the Boomer-in-Chief, George W. Bush preparing for his 60th birthday on July 6.
Bush is in the first wave of some 78 million American boomers to reach this milestone. For most of them, according to the Post, it is not a happy event. There is the shock of receiving their first invitation to join the American Association of Retired Persons. In response, there are mountain bikes (witness the Boomer-in-Chief), treadmills and hair dyes.
But, narcissism aside, these people are confronting some real problems.
Their conversations are now peppered with concerns about health care, and whether they have put away enough money for retirement. Suddenly, every dinner party is consumed by talk of Social Security, and the reality of fewer people paying into it as more collect from it.
Watching them, what's fascinating is the decided shift to the right in their political views. They may have once marched for equal rights or interned with poverty-fighting groups, but now the boomers are in favour of tax cuts and opposed to estate duties and national healthcare.
With millions of them poised to follow Bush across the 60 threshold, those concerns will soon be foremost on the political agenda.
In this fall's elections, boomer issues will be ascendant, wrestling for equal time with the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism. By 2008, many observers believe they will entirely dominate the political agenda.
Maybe I am a bit envious.