Let us all, Republican and Democrat, conservative and progressive, old and young, pray for a speedy recovery for President Trump.
Both nominees belong to an age group (Trump, age 74, Biden, age 77) especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. That highlights a key fact about this election. It's not so much right vs. left. It's more about the last hurrah of us boomers before passing the torch to a rising generation there in the on-deck circle waiting for its at-bats.
I'm a baby boomer and proud of our record. We won the Cold War, defeating the Communist Evil Empire. We did the impossible by sending (thanks JFK!) heroes to the moon and bringing them back safely (hello there, Buzz Aldrin!). We invented the Internet (thanks, Bob and Vint) and deployed it (thank you, Al Gore!) worldwide via the Web (thanks Sir Tim!). We more than octupled world GDP, from $11 trillion in 1980 to close to $88 trillion (thanks Jack Kemp and Bob Mundell!). We rescued billions from the brink of famine and from dire poverty.
And, oh, yeah, we created Rock 'n' Roll.
It's been a hard day's night.
We boomers ran out of steam around the turn of the millennium. Around 20 years ago we lost our mojo. The tide of world prosperity we generated began to ebb. 9/11 and our subsequent invasion of the Middle East disrupted the peace. America faltered in its mission of spreading the "Empire of Liberty."
The internet continued to support human flourishing. Thank you Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft! Yet we boomers dropped the ball by deeply cutting government R&D spending. Technological progress became more incremental than transformational. (Sorry, Elon.)
Yet we boomers clung, and cling, to power. Nobody voluntarily gives up power and its perks. We boomers aggressively wrested power from our parents, the generation that so heroically vanquished the Nazis, Fascists, Imperial Japan. Tom Brokaw dubbed them "the Greatest Generation."
We vanquished them. We boomers marched in the street to protest the draft, end the Vietnam War, agitate for civil and women's rights. The Greatest Generation did not docilely turn over power. We took power.
And had a great run. Then, we ran out of steam. Generation X defaulted when it was their time to seize power from us. They were just too darn good natured. Millennials, fortunately, not so much.
We boomers did not end history. Good! No challenges, no glory! Bismarck is said to have said, "We must leave some problems for our grandchildren to solve." We boomers replaced the threat of world starvation with … an obesity epidemic. Our prosperity generated serious, although solvable, ecological problems: habitat collapse, soil degradation, ocean pollution, which the left's hobgoblin of CO2-induced climate change tends to obscure but not evade.
W, Obama, and Trump's comparatively weak economic growth led to horrendous deficits, public and private. If we had kept the Reagan/Clinton policies and attendant growth rates for the past 20 years America's annual income would be $30 trillion, not $20 trillion, solving many social problems. And due to our fumble the world started edging away from liberal republicanism, America's signature political achievement.
The risk of a reactionary Little Dark Age is real. OK, boomers?
My problem with the 2020 election is not with the candidates. Biden belongs to the tail end of the Greatest Generation, Trump to the vanguard of the baby boom. The candidates are not the problem. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves….
The real problem? This election is but an echo of yesteryear, a reenactment of a bygone era. The story we boomers grew up with – a Cold War, the world perched on the edge of a nuclear holocaust – has collapsed. Yet America is still acting like we're at war.
War's over. We won.
We blessedly confront rivals, not enemies.
Russia is a shadow of the USSR.
China is a formidable rival, not an enemy.
OK, old habits die hard. America spent a century at war. We fought World War I to make the world "safe for democracy" against Empire. WWII was an epic fight against the totalitarian dictators of the West. WWIII, the Cold War, was a noble fight against the dictatorships of the East. And won.
So here we are Election 2020, watching reruns of the 20th century. Zzzz….. We boomers lack the imagination and energy to scale new heights, transcending the world's presenting problems.
2020 doesn't matter nearly as much as the media hype would suggest. It's the demography, stupid!
The real deal?
In 2024 the millennials will take over.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as co-founder of and senior counselor to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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