Chuck Todd recently said something that I found alarming. Now, I consider myself to be a "Chuckolyte", but I have to take issue with his recent assertion that Barack Obama isn't "really" a baby boomer. If I remember correctly, Chuck's reasoning was that people born in the late 1950s to the end of the boom in 1964 weren't really part of the "Viet Nam" generation, and therefore really shouldn't be lumped into the same demographic as their older boomer counterparts.
Before I go into a rant, let me say that I agree with Chuck--to a point. Most of my friends as I was growing up were either the oldest child in their family or their siblings were close to them in age. For most of them, the Viet Nam war was a passing phrase mentioned on TV. They didn't grow up listening to The Beatles or the Stones because they were busy listening to the Jackson Five or The Archies. The cultural revolution didn't touch their lives--no hippies, no love beads and definitely no older brothers who came home from college with beards that caused their mothers and grandmothers to become lightheaded. It's true that most of my friends who are my age would not describe themselves as baby boomers, although technically they are. If pushed, they would describe themselves as children of the seventies who were torn between rock-n-roll and disco, platform shoes and Chuck Taylors.
But I--I am a baby boomer, albeit a "late" boomer. When I was a little girl in the 1960s, my siblings were in their late teens and early twenties. Both of my brothers had draft cards, and my house was filled with the sounds of The Beatles, Diana Ross and Jimi Hendrix (much to my parents' chagrin). My oldest brother was arrested for participating in a war protest in Washington D.C., while my mother's oldest brother sat imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton during the same period of time as John McCain. In fact, my family didn't know for three years whether or not my uncle was dead or alive. The Viet Nam war is a sizeable chapter in the book of my family's history.
My brothers grew long hair and beards. My sister wore mini skirts and covered her bedroom in psychedelic flowers and posters bearing the words to Aquarius. I practiced drawing peace signs (both the circular symbol and the hand signal), and I watched my siblings battle with our parents over the changing times. I like to say that my parents raised four baby boomers and lived to tell the tale.
I was quite aware of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy (only three at the time, I have no memories of the JFK assassination). My siblings (and my parents) felt the tumultuous effects of those tragedies, and their emotions trickled down to eight year-old me. I wasn't quite sure what had happened, but I knew it was bad in a deeply different way. I remember the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and I specifically remember feeling that there was something going on in our world that scared me. Christmas Eve 1968, as Apollo 8 circled the moon, was a somewhat peaceful end to a difficult year.
Fast forward to 2008. I'm quick to identify myself as a hippie. The hopes and dreams of Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King live in Barack Obama (at least as far as I'm concerned). I still listen to The Beatles obsessively. I have a tie-dyed Obama t-shirt. My car sports a circular peace symbol on the rear window (among the Obama bumper stickers I just can't yet bring myself to remove). I get what Chuck was trying to say. But I just want to remind him that there are some late boomers out here like me who really feel like--well, like baby boomers. Those days shaped who I am as an adult more than any other factor in my life. Not even motherhood had as strong an impact (my son would agree that his mother is a hippie).
I'll end by saying this: Barack Obama is the first president in my lifetime who will be younger than me when he takes office. Whippersnapper.