TGA Podcast: Episode 193

TGA Podcast: Episode 193

This week, we confront my ‘Ageism’ and discuss ‘generational theory’ and why the world is as crappy as it is. Plus, more on the Tea Party and who comprises their ranks. It’s a must for any political junkie.


Introduction: Lecture on Tea Party by Prof. Theda Skocpol lecture at Oxford:[5]

1980-2000 – Millennials or Generation Y
1965-1979 –  Generation X
1946-1964 –  Baby Boom
1925-1945 –  Silent Generation
1900-1924 –  G.I. Generation

What are generational differences dependent on? What factors influence generations?
First, members of a generation share what the authors call an age location in history: they encounter key historical events and social trends while occupying the same phase of life.[3]

Generations tend to go through cycles
High: Period of strong institutions but weak individualism. Things get comfortable, but people begin to tire of such strong social obligations and the stifling of creativity and expression
Awakening: Period when institutions are questioned. Boomers make up this demographic. Individualism is strong, (sometimes referred to as summer).
Unraveling: Institutions are weak, distrusted, (Reagan era of individualism, ‘small government’). This is the generation, shortly after the boomers, which have now come of ‘voting age’. This generation leads inevitably to
Crisis: (My generation) Institutional life is rebuilt, stock market crash, the 2008 market crash all happened in Crisis eras. These are moments that redefine national identities (perhaps global identities with the coming of the Internet. Rising civic engagement, (winter).

In these times, Archetypes appear –

Prophets: come of age as self-absorbed young crusaders of an Awakening, focus on morals and principles in midlife, and emerge as elders guiding another Crisis

Nomads: born during an Awakening, a time of social ideals and spiritual agendas, when young adults are passionately attacking the established institutional order. These were shrewd realists who preferred individualistic, pragmatic solutions to problems.

Heroes: Tend to be more militaristic, strong political leaders. They are overly confident, having grown up as cocky young adults during a time of crisis. This tends to shape them into leaders.

Artistic: The strong, political overbearingness makes the previous generation more prone to compromise and pragmatism.

Prophet Nomad Hero Artist
High Childhood Elderhood Midlife Young Adult
Awakening Young Adult Childhood Elderhood Midlife
Unraveling Midlife Young Adult Childhood Elderhood
Crisis Elderhood Midlife Young Adult Childhood

We share more in common with the old. Hence, now the fashion of our grandfathers become present day affectations. What is old is fresh again. We reject those values of the midlife of our parents, cling to those of our grandparents instead, but influenced by the different phases.

Voting Statistics

Age        Size      Voters      Percent
18-20   11.7 m   2.05m     (17%)
20-24   15.6m   4m           (24%)
25-34   41.2m   12.85m    (31%)
35-44   39.9m   17.19m    (43.1%)
45-65   80m       43.9m     (54.4%)
65-99   39m       23.7m     (60.4%)

If Generational theory is correct, that would mean 66 million people are 55 or older

Voting and registration rates tend to increase with age. In the United States in 2010, only 21 percent of 18 to 24 year old citizens voted, compared with 61 percent of those 65 and older.

Many Generation Xers came of age during the Reagan-Bush years (1980 to 1992) or the ‘Republican Revolution’ marked by the 1994 midterm elections. Today’s Generation Y has reached maturity in a time period largely marked by the administration of George W. Bush, and certainly for many the nascent Obama administration is a major formative factor in their political orientation.[1]

Perhaps the most striking change since 2004 has come among voters born between 1956 and 1976 — the members of Generation X and the later Baby Boomers. People in this age group tended to be more Republican during the 1990s, and the GOP still maintained a slight edge in partisan affiliation among Gen X and the late boomers in 2004 (47% identified with or leaned toward the GOP while 44% described themselves as Democrats or leaned Democratic).[2]

Among racial demographics, Asians have the worse voting record (30%), as did Hispanics (31%)

I hate the 33-47 year old Generation (Gen X) and The Silent (who share both politically conservative views, and who are now overwhelming voting majorities. Their combined voting strength will undoubtedly lead to a crisis.

Americans who tend to have more income, slightly more educated than average, and of 65- years and older increasingly dissatisfied with these institutions that they nevertheless have benefitted from, considering their wealth.

Coddled children of the Post War high and the coddled children of hippies who went the other spectrum politically.

– Cool Pumpkin carvings [6] [7]
– Very unemployed people less likely to get work [8]


Comments (19)

  • avatar

    Ray Mills

    Show us your cool shit research tangents
    Listening from New Zealand.

  • avatar

    William L

    Make a Tumblr! I’ll follow it in a heartbeat.

  • avatar

    Maciej Pendolski

    Sorry for shouting.

  • avatar

    Bryan Elliott

    I’m seeing your conclusions as suspect at best

    I thought you were like early 30’s? That places your birth date around 1980, which makes you borderline Gen X / Millenial. Millenial is 1981~1999, Gen X is 1965~1981. The boomers are prior, back to 1946.

    I’m not sure I agree with your assertion that people are like, “fuck kids” – I did a graph of live births in the US to see how I felt about that:

    Looking over the Strauss-Howe stuff – it looks like an unusably loose model. The term “generation” is kind of suspect, as the divisions are arbitrarily enough chosen – the spans of a “generation” aren’t fixed, ranging from 16 years to 30 – to cherry-pick time spans to fit whatever archetypes you like. There’s no clear way to determine whether or not the theory is sound with respect to a given generation, since the pattern matching is so vague and can describe any sub-movement within. The “Civil War / Hero” generation is _absent_ – with the poor excuse that, essentially, reality failed to adhere to the model. It has all the convincing authority of biblical back-fitting. It’s interesting to know about, to be sure, but I’m completely unconvinced. It looks, instead, like it looks like a secular eschatology. Or worse, an attempt to use data – badly – to justify stereotyping.

    It makes me realize something a little mortifying about myself.

    As you’ve done with Gen X, I’ve been bitterly blaming the boomers for being fucking ridiculous for much of my life: neocons; the broken green movement; the rejection of nuclear energy; the silliness of groups like Peta that harm the image of progressive efforts; the obsession with comfort and convenience over efficiency and peace; the expansion of frivolous objections to shit.

    I’m rethinking that now; blaming a generation for all that shit shit seems really seriously simplistic, now I’m thinking about it. There are specific people and groups behind these failures, and I would be very surprised if they were all among one “generation”. Worse, given I’ve inherited a world from the Boomers and X’ers, and they’re the ones that made all the decisions prior to me – good and bad. And, like any normal citizen, I only notice the things that get in my way – the bad decisions and the “good” compromises. It’s only natural that I’d blame it on my progenitors. I’m thinking now that it’s probable that blame is unwarranted.

    Also, get a tumblr. Do it nao.

  • avatar


    I will also add my voice to the outcry for a tga tumblr.

    On another note, the podcast was somewhat difficult to follow, since there are no notes on the site proper. I know that you used to do this, could you do it again, as you are leaving out everyone that doesn’t use iTunes?

    Last note, without seeing the source material for the “Generation Theory”, I do find it somewhat difficult to believe, especially the archetypes. From what I understand, it seems to be a better fit for the recent history of the western cultures, which is hardly enough data to state that there is a pattern of cultural lifecycles.

    Just my $0.02

  • avatar


    I really enjoyed this episode and it sparked some interesting conversation with a friend of mine. I think you’re spot-on with your thoughts on Generation X.

    I, like many fans I’m sure, would be interested in seeing some of the stuff you dredge up while researching shows.

  • avatar


    Wikipedia tells me that I’m Gen X, which makes me sad.

    I’m interested in

  • avatar


    Wait, you’re blaming Generation X for voting and saying they are the problem rather than the Millenials for being apathetic?

  • avatar


    You’re blaming Gen X? Maybe in Canada, I doubt that, Thereality is that Gen X has taken leadership roles only recently. Baby Boomers like Romney still control everything. Obama might be considered Gen X or a young Boomer. Yet people his age (older Gen X) have only recently become powerful. The leadership is still predominantly Boomer and Silent Generation.

    Gen X is not the one slamming the door behind itself. At least in the US, we’re not going to get the benefits that Boomers get. The whole backdrop of American trickle-down theory was created by Silent Generation and disillusioned Boomers who either never had ideals or gave up their ideals for easy money. It’s not Gen X’s fault we (yes, I’m a Gen Xer) were raised in it. Prior to the 80s, the most benign progressive ideals weren’t questioned. After 80’s this was suspect. We were kids in our teens and 20s– hardly responsible.

    True, we’re responsible for helping turn this around, but we didn’t start this mess. Fyi, Tea Partiers tend to be above the age of 45. This means that yes, a few are Gen Xers, but a higher portion rests with Boomers & Silent Generation folks.

    I wonder if a lot of your data was gleaned by someone who’s a Boomer. They were the folks who invented sex, you know.

    FYI, I otherwise love your podcast.

  • avatar

    Religious Critic

    You truly are ageist! 🙂 I thought Gen-X was the coolest generation to be in… mainly because I’m in it, but I am unconvinced otherwise!

    PS – make a Tumblr! 🙂

  • avatar

    Ed B.

    I came here to poo-poo the generational theory stuff, but it looks like other people already have it covered. 🙂

    +1 for the tumblr idea!

  • avatar


    Sure, do the tumblr, why not?

  • avatar


    Yes, do a tumblr!!

    I also had to say something about the generation stuff. I’m maybe seven years older then you (so.. gen. X) but I’m NOT YOUR DAD.

    I think maybe because this model fit YOU well and explains YOUR life well you adapted to it more easily.

    It doesn’t fit me.

    I for one do not dislike my parents generation and idealize my grandparents. I mean our grandparents are straight up scary. They are like very no-nonsense, hardy, even racist and bigoted as you’ve pointed out with exceptions of course. I don’t find that generation X’ers whorshipped or idealized their grandparents. My grandma called me in the bathroom when I was six to show and tell me about how she acquired her prosthetic leg as a result of polio and how she had to make the trip alone on a city bus. I don’t think we’ve ever been able to even relate to our grandparents. They came from the old word. Farming and rural communities. I mean the generation gap will never again be that wide.

    Our parents were generally much more loving and gentle but sometimes conservative minded. My parents were not hippie baby boomers. My parents were too young to be involved in the counter culture and too isolated in mid-america to be involved in counter culture. People got married YOUNG in my parent’s generation (1960’s). My parents may have been alive while it happened but they weren’t apart of it. My parents were scared of hippies and they tried to mimic their parents live style and it didn’t work and they got divorced like so many people got divorced in the 80s. Our parents had very stern upbringings. I know my parents had begun to soften as you call it. They were softer but yet still came from a harsh background.

    I grew up idealizing the counter culture of the 60s while living in a very stiffing age of conformity. It was very lonely and you could get beat up in the 80s for just parting your hair the wrong way. I believe the agony and isolation created by living in those circumstances created the passion and vitality of the counter culture in the 90s. I still see all kinds of shades of 90s counter culture in today’s world. I believe the counter culture won out and I think the kids that came after that (such as yourself) enjoy freedoms we didn’t have. It wasn’t always so easy to be yourself and not get beat up.

    I find young kids today (I guess I’ll include that up to age 30 haha) are much able to be who they are and be incorporated into society. In some ways I think this is a golden age of do it yourself. Figure it out.

    There was also a recession in the 90s that made me full of dread and anxiety about my future. I think for woman or for artists the future wasn’t quite so full of assurances about success as it was for young guys on the business track.
    If you wanted to do something meaningful or artistic or creative you didn’t feel like you could easily find your place. Pay inequities for women were greater back then. There was much more sexism and unequal treatment even just in school environments. So I for one was filled with dread and anxiety about my future.

  • avatar

    Jason Crichton

    I do hope you all remember that the plural of anecdote is not evidence. Just because you specifically feel like you don’t meet the description does not make it inaccurate. I haven’t really looked at it but the post directly above me seems to be missing the forest for the trees.

  • avatar

    Paco Puente

    Jacob having a Tumblr? That would be AMAZING!

  • avatar


    A belated +1 to the Tumblr idea.

  • avatar


    Interesting sociological study above, but needs a lot more work and many more tests before it could qualify as a theory.

    I generally agree that “generation” is quickly becoming a meaningless term, with age playing less of a dominant role. Money still plays a large part, but it’s ironic that Christopher Hayes, in his book Twilight of the Elites, tells his readers the solution to his presented problem should and will be resolved by upper middle class folks.

    My thinking is that trying to classify any person by a group is setting up for major fail. We have to take people one at a time. I’d like to think that’s what I personally have been working towards my whole life.

    It’s interesting how we tend to think of older people as inferior in some way. My mother, aged 76, entered a retirement home, and promptly started complaining about all the “old” people, who were really only slightly older than her, many of whom would easily fit in her “generation”. My real sadness came from the fact that she was beginning to watch Faux News exclusively, just before she died.

    Anyway, a central collection point of your research materials would be very helpful, but I’d prefer it be available through several different media, rather than focused in one app that may or may not disappear soon. Anyone remember “My Space”? Diggit? Reddit?

    By the way, where is the membership page, so I can change mine to match your new setup? I’ve been looking around and haven’t found it yet.

  • avatar


    The boomers are twice the size of Gen X even now when they are starting to die off. Gen X has never had power and probably never will, there are too few of us to matter. By the time the boomers die off the millenials will outnumber us. But as usual boomers get the glory and Xers get the blame. History is written by the winners, pop culture is decided by the majority.

  • avatar

    Daniel Brandon

    Yes to tumblr. Show us your other interesting fings.

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