Baby boomers are not elderly, thanks

This was a bad week for baby boomers. Hints of dismissal and irrelevancy are thick in the air. But boomers still have some fight in us and clearly it’s time to start using it. Nobody’s ready to be put out to pasture quite yet.

Exhibit A: After the tragic tornados hit Fairdale IL, a WGN-TV follow-up report called the two women who died in Fairdale “elderly.” Excuse me – they were 67 and 69 years old and should be remembered as active sixty-somethings instead. Certainly this would be a minor point to those who loved them, but let’s show some respect.

When exactly does “elderly” start for you people? I used to think that it started at 80ish, maybe 85. But talk to me on the eve on my 85th birthday, which I’d like to be clear is decades in the future, and we’ll see. Maybe 94 would be better.

“Ancient, over-the-hill, long in the tooth,” are all synonyms for “elderly”. Who would want to claim those? Why not adopt behavioral measures instead? Nobody thinks that it’s surprising for a sixty-year-old to drive independently, do crossword puzzles, hold down a job, travel the world. So let’s wait until those develop into real problems to start throwing around the E-word.

Exhibit B: Marco Rubio announces his run for the presidency as a generational coup. Hillary Clinton, he said, is “a leader from yesterday,” and “yesterday is over and we are never going back.” I don’t know about Hillary but other baby boomers I know are interested in going forward, not back, like just about everyone else. Plus, somebody’s got to be the adult in the room, and we’re accustomed to that being us.

Of course, Rubio is in line behind a bunch of journalists who find it important to point out that Hillary would be 69 and 3 months on inauguration day, behind Ronald Reagan who was 69 and 11 month old at his. But, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out last year, folks live longer these days, and she could be expected to survive another 17 years after that.

One thing you can say about boomers – we have staying power. Maybe we need to organize a national day of recognition that 69 is not elderly but experienced.

You youngsters’ problem is this: you’ve never seen us in action for a just cause. We were glorious – we got us out of a war, set our sights on justice and freedom, could wear whatever we wanted. Then we got good jobs (easier then admittedly), settled down and started to give birth to you people. True, we’ve caused some problems too, like Watergate, Enron, Mel Gibson. We got so busy we kind of lost our edge and our ethics sometimes.

But you youngsters – oh, don’t like that term? Find it dismissive and insulting? So sorry – have your own pockets of trouble: think The Bachelor, the Kardashians, Aaron Schock. Someone’s liking those and it’s not us. So the world is going to be better off in your hands than ours, exactly how?


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