Very often when I encounter a fellow baby boomer, there is this debate that takes place. The question surfaces, “Was life better back then than it is now?”
Very often the conversation begins with a wonderful recap of the college days of baby boomers. Baby boomers speak of the friends they made in college, the music that was played in the dorm, and the growing up process.
For most the idea of sending their own college-age student away to school speaks to the right of passage they once experienced themselves.
The year I entered college was 1972. It was a turbulent time in our country. Sen. George McGovern was the Democratic nominee for president, and his acceptance speech was so late that the American people never saw it. It is hard to believe that this could ever happen now with today’s scripted world of politics and the advent of social media.
In 1976 when a governor from Georgia became president, he ran as an outsider to Washington. We as a country were looking for a man with ethics, for we as a country were trying to recover from the Watergate scandal of the Nixon years.
It is hard to believe that President Carter will be 91 years old on Oct. 1. By all accounts, he may actually be best remembered for what he did out of office.
Carter has defined the post-presidency contribution, but while he was in office we had high inflation and gas lines. He once appeared on national television asking the American people to conserve by adjusting their thermostats. The American people did not like his message with this idea of self-sacrifice.
In 1980, Gov. Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter. The issues of the time were the economy and Iran. Things have not changed much as we approach the 2016 election. What baby boomers will remember about the Reagan years is that those times were when baby boomers and corporate life became fully acquainted.
Many, when asked, can point to 1986 as one of the years in their lives that they can recall best. It was a good time to be a baby boomer. Baby boomers were moving up in the world and their guide was the restaurant section of "Boston Magazine."
It is very interesting that Republican candidates of today genuflect at the altar of Ronald Reagan, much like John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson once did in memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
It was interesting that when Jeb Bush unveiled his tax proposal and talked about getting the economy going again, he cited the year 1986 and the Reagan policy of the day as an example.
Baby boomers look into the mirror every day with one eye on tomorrow and other eye on yesterday. The memory of yesterday is pronounced. The days of sitting with family and having your whole life still ahead of you are now part of the left side of your brain. But what boomers are truly focused on is being the best they can be today.
They can sometimes dream of when they were 25, but their mantra is to be the best 60-year-old they can be. Maybe that is the silver lining of this column — yesterday and today — they go together.
Rick Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns “Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation.” He is the author of "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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