Songs for the Struggling Artist

Howard Dean Came for Gen X. It Did Not Go Well for Him.

Well, well, well. Would you look at that? Howard Dean decided to come for Generation X on Twitter. He claimed we were a moral shipwreck and as evidence, cited all such examples as the recent additions to the Supreme Court, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Well, yes, those people are all Gen X, sure. And Dean deleted the tweet after Gen X roasted him soundly – but of course, as your Gen X blogging source, I cannot let this go by.

Generationally, all the conservative dirtbags Dean namechecked, are kind of anomalies. They’re highly visible but they are also exceptions. They are the kind of exceptions the rest of us made fun of in high school. Like, seriously.

And I think it may be important to think about this systemically. Let’s take the two new (horrible) additions to the Supreme Court, who are, yes, Dean, I agree, moral shipwrecks. These two are not judges because they are exceptional jurists. They were groomed, from the get-go by the Federalist Society, when these two shipwrecks were young (unpopular) conservatives.

As a Generation, we pretty roundly rejected these sorts of people. They’re corporate tools, lame, uncool posers who we would never invite to our parties. Also, Brett Kavanaugh was a creep who would definitely drink all your beer.

But you know who DID invite these people to their parties? Conservatives in your generation, Howard Dean, and the generation before yours. These folks were welcomed and trained and made to feel like conservative kings. They were raised up, supported, given mentoring and jobs. And here we are, with these lame corporate tools in office and on the Supreme Court.

There was no one doing this on the left, Howard Dean. There were no lefties welcoming passionate leftist politicos when we were young. No one was waiting anxiously for Rashida Talib to grow up so they could give her a judgeship. I’d wager no Young Democrats association gave Ayanna Presley a scholarship. No one escorted Julian and Joaquin Castro to the Yale Club to get them some funding.

If you don’t see a lot of leftie Gen Xers, Howard Dean, it’s a) because you’re not looking, because I just named four of them and b) because leftie Gen X-ers were left to fend for themselves. We are, in fact, famous for this skill at fending for ourselves. We were known as the Latchkey Generation for a while before Gen X stuck as a name. Leftie Gen X has always been pretty anti-establishment but if anyone had bothered, I bet we could have organized. We’re a bunch of Billy Bragg fans. We’d fight for the union. If conservative Gen X is more visible, more morally repugnant, more famous, it is because older generations boosted them up the ladder in a way that they never did for more liberal Gen X, who are, I think, in the majority.

You made this moral shipwreck, Howard Dean. You did. You were in a position to lead and support and mentor Gen X and you let it slip by and so we are left with a bunch of Gen X corporate tools in positions of big power, that none of us would let in to our parties. You could try to blame us, the way conservatives try to blame the kids who didn’t befriend the kids who became school shooters. Like maybe we should have been nicer to those sociopaths in high school – but ultimately – the lure of money and power would have won them. Even if someone had given Amy Coney Barrett a punk make-over, it would not have been as powerful as the internships, the scholarships and the job that the Federalists had in mind for her.

There is no Generation that is as obsessed with cool as Gen X. Every Gen X-er was judged by how cool or not cool they might be. Would you say Ted Cruz was cool? How about Amy Coney Barrett? Is she cool? Brett Kavanaugh? Cool guy? Not by our standards, my friends. These are not cool people, Howard Dean. They are not the best of our generation and the fact that you think they represent us, suggests to me, Mr. Dean, that you don’t know us at all. You may know our might now that you’ve come for us. I don’t know what my generation mates may have said to you on Twitter to get you to delete your tweets and back down but I know it must have been fierce. Gen X is cool like that.

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