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Tom Brokaw Lets Baby Boomers Off the Hook

Posted on March 11 2010 6:00 am
Suzanne Venker, a.k.a. "No Bull Mom," is an author, blogger, and speaker. You can find her at
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In Tom Brokaw’s documentary Boomers!, which aired last week, the main subjects — six baby boomers — asked the narrator at the end of the program what he thought a good word was to describe the baby boomer legacy. To which Brokaw answers, “Unrealized.”

Brokaw had spent the better part of the two-hour documentary describing how boomers harbored big dreams that never came to fruition. His focus was on the financial aspects of the boomer generation: how they ultimately “traded communes for co-ops” by spending money they didn’t have — which has now led to a faltering economy that has since “humbled” many boomers.

Now in their fifties and sixties, today’s baby boomers control 3/4 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, the White House, and Congress. They are “the largest, richest generation in history” — and there are 78 million of them. How best to describe baby boomers?” According to Brokaw, this way:

“The fear and conformity of the World War II generation gave way to a flowering of self-expression and sweeping social changes — including personal behavior.”

Bingo! But he then spends very little time discussing the “personal behavior” to which he refers — and how this behavior led to an unprecedented  moral decline in America. But there was one subject — one — who did: author P.J. O’ Rourke. He tells Brokaw,

“We were stoned all the time; the sexuality was utterly irresponsible, utterly irreligious; we had no respect for any kind of authority. We just left a trail of wreckage behind us.”

The last time I heard anyone talk this way about baby boomers was in a Wall Street Journal article last June. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, 60, tells the graduating class at Butler University that boomers have been,

“self-absorbed, self-indulgent and all too often just plain selfish.”

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, 44, tells seniors at Colorado College that the modern generation “has not been faithful enough to our grandparents’ example.” Neil Howe, an author and historian, said the social movements of the 1960s “caved in on itself” as boomers focused more on “their own inner voyage” and less on their obligation to society.

Indeed. Before the boomers came along, most Americans believed in a universal moral order that makes demands on us — and felt an obligation to conform to it. Unfortunately, the various factions of the 1960s countercultural movement — the antiwar movement, the feminist movement, the gay activist movement — “attacked the moral consensus as oppressive and fought for a new ethic that would be based not on external authority but on the sovereignty of the inner self,” writes Dinesh D’Souza in Letter to a Young Conservative.

This revolt, which began over forty years ago, has officially made its mark on American society: We are no longer a unified nation. Rather, we are split down the middle: on one side are those who still believe in a universal moral order — we call them “conservatives,” but it includes independents and Kennedy Democrats, too — and on the other side are those who remain faithful to the inner self.

Today, a mere 20% of Americans describe themselves as liberal — but this is a misnomer. Conservatives and independents are liberal; the rest are leftists. This 20% represent the worst of the baby boomer mentality. While the rest of us still take into account the universal moral order on which America depends, leftists pray to the altar of moral relativity — a concept invented by baby boomers.

This philosophy is the reason partial-birth abortion is not considered a travesty by 100% of the population. It’s the reason parenting has changed for the worse. It’s the reason divorce and single motherhood is accepted and even embraced. It’s the reason public schools are a disgrace. It’s the reason sex education is a license for kids to engage in casual sex. Indeed, the consequences of taking the focus off what’s best for society and onto the desires of the individual is mind-numbingly far-reaching.

Guess Brokaw thought this was too much truth for television.

Suzanne Venker is an author, blogger, and former teacher. You can read more of her work at No Bull Mom and Right Pundits.

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