A Gen X Icon on Why America Isn’t Ready for a Gen X President

Beto O‘Rourke and the Failure of the Failure Generation

Elizabeth Wurtzel


Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?
— Beck, 1993

I am staring at the ceiling and pondering the failure of the failure generation.

I hear the debate tonight is the last for Beto O’Rourke, who may not make the cut for the next one. And who knows about however many more are to come in this candidate-o-rama.

What happened with him? He is a talented politician who brought punk rock to his campaign for Senate in Texas. Yes, we have all had it with white men, yes we want a more revolutionary messenger than some guy with a wife at home, but the electorate has a weakness for Beto’s thing: He is every woman’s favorite boyfriend, and he is every man’s everyman. Beto is compared to various Kennedys, because he is the Democratic classic, the voice of a new generation.

But no one under 70 seems likely to be the Democratic presidential nominee. There are several Generation X candidates who are flailing through the primaries, when we are the age that should be taking over. A 2019 Pew Research poll found that nearly half of Democrats want a 50-something president.