Is Joe Biden the man to end America’s generational and partisan divides? One New York Times writer thinks so, but an avalanche of comments not seeing it put the spotlight on a brewing generation war.
With the democratic party being pushed to the left by socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the ‘tax cuts and globalization’ Republicans sidelined by the bombastic theater of President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden has focused his 2020 campaign on themes of unity and a return to the Washington consensus. “This nation needs to come together,” he told a rally in Philadelphia on Saturday, “let’s stop fighting and start fixing.”
The New York Times’ Bret Stephens was enthralled. In an opinion piece published the same day, Stephens lauds Biden’s centrism, and congratulates the 76-year-old former VP for refusing to cave to the more outlandish demands of his party’s newly-energized left.
“No faction on the Democratic side more richly deserves rebuking than the one Biden singled out,” he wrote, referring to “all those who recklessly participate in the search-and-destroy missions of the call-out culture” – the outrage mobs who recently hounded Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan out of a job for taking a job defending disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, and physically assaulted college professors for daring to host debates with right-wing panelists.
“The sensible center” want a leader like Biden, Stephens argues, not a candidate who’ll indulge the whims of the “chortling twenty-somethings” leading the outrage brigades.
So case closed, Biden’s the man to do it. Stephens’ article confirmed the biases of some of the Times’ readership, like commenter ‘Phyliss Dalmatian,’ a 60-year-old who called Stephens the “voice of common sense and encouragement.”
“I say to the millennials: put up, or shut up. Put down the Facebook, Twitter, avocado toast, “influencer” blogs, and VOTE,” she wrote. “Save the snark for your Elders, we have much experience.” The Times’ editors were evidently impressed with Phyliss’ ‘stay off my lawn’ sass, retweeting her social commentary for all to see.
“I’m 60, and I say to the millennials: Put down the Facebook, Twitter, avocado toast, ‘influencer’ blogs, and VOTE. Save the snark for your elders, we have much experience,” writes a reader on Bret Stephens’s “Dear Millennials: the Feeling is Mutual.” https://t.co/X89GinVSONpic.twitter.com/nJY0q0bZE7
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) May 19, 2019
In pushing for an establishment favorite, Stephens have unleashed the fury of “chortling twenty-somethings,” and scores more millennials (generally defined as people born between 1981 and the mid-1990s).
“I’m 32 and I say stop blaming the generation with no job security, trillions in student loan debt, no affordable healthcare and a dying planet for the pain and suffering your generation has caused,” wrote one.
I’m 32 and I say stop blaming the generation with no job security, trillions in student loan debt, no affordable healthcare and a dying🌏 for the pain and suffering your generation has caused. Instead of telling us how to clean up your mess, tell yourself to stop voting for evil. https://t.co/xsBRloFxN0
— Amir (@AmirAminiMD) May 19, 2019
“Millennials have been fighting your messed up wars since 9/11,” read another comment from ‘G’. “Iraq. Katrina. Great Recession. $1 trillion student debt. Sandy Hook. Over 400 ppm CO2. A dying planet. I’m tired of the OLDER generations’ whining and entitlement. Move aside. You’ve done enough damage.”
“Validation and basic respect are what’s needed here,” read another comment. “Not a patronizing lecture.”
“It betrays a fundamental weakness in our society when so many of our ‘elders,’ who also happen to come from the most economically privileged generation in human history, take this much pleasure in baselessly maligning their own children,” said Joseph from Sacramento. “Some example you’re all setting… Good luck, America.”
Scores of further comments suggest that it’s not just millennials struggling in America, and more than just one generation are angry at Stephens’ generalization.
Whatever the narrative, there are more than 83 million millennials in America, according to 2014 data from the Census Bureau. These millennials are only going to become a more potent political force, and even in 2014 outnumbered the Baby Boomers by nearly 10 million, Their impact was seen in 2016, when their support was critical in propelling Bernie Sanders’ campaign onto the national stage. During the primary season that year, more under-30s voted for Sanders than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined.
As is evident in the reaction to Stephens’ editorial, the generation gap is another political fault line any 2020 contender will have to navigate, and Democratic leaders have so far been unsure which side to stake a claim to. Sanders has continued to market himself to millennials, promising to help them with student loan debt and falling living standards.
The Boomer generation needed just 306 hours of minimum wage work to pay for four years of public college.
Millennials need 4,459.
The economy today is rigged against working people and young people. That is what we are going to change.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 24, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has called for Biden/Clinton style centrism, in an effort to make her party more palatable to older voters.
“Own the center left, own the mainstream,” the 79-year-old Congresswoman told the New York Times earlier this month, warning candidates against embracing “some of the other exuberances that exist in our party.”
Graham Dockery, RT
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