The Great Gen X vs. Boomer Debate Comes for Kamala

Boomers have dominated American politics for more than three decades, and that’s not about to change

Jill Filipovic
GEN
Published in
7 min readAug 13, 2020

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Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Kamala Harris, who is running for vice president alongside Democratic nominee Joe Biden, feels like a breath of fresh air. She’s crisp, dynamic, and charismatic, a youthful counter to Biden, who, if he wins this election, will turn 80 while in office. Put her smiling face next to the stale, curdled visage of Donald Trump, and the president looks all the sourer.

She’s also a baby boomer’s idea of a young person — in a country where 80% of U.S. senators are over the age of 55, and not a single one is under 40, Harris (55 herself) is practically aglow with youthful vitality. You’d barely know that Harris is a boomer. And don’t expect her to own it.

Boomers have dominated American politics for more than three decades. Dan Quayle became the first baby boomer in the White House in 1989 when he began his term as George H.W. Bush’s vice president. Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer president when he took office in 1993; his vice president, Al Gore, was a boomer too. And ever since, the Oval Office has been boomer-occupied, from George W. Bush through Barack Obama through Donald Trump (fun fact: Clinton, Bush, and Trump were all born within the same three-month period in the summer of 1946, the first year of the baby boom). If Joe Biden wins, 2021 will be the first time in nearly 30 years that the president won’t be a baby boomer — he’ll be even older, a member of the silent generation born during the Great Depression but raised in post-war prosperity.

His vice president, though, will continue the tradition of boomer dominance. Harris was born in 1964, the last year of the baby boom.

In the midst of an anti-boomer backlash, this is inconvenient and already met with strong denial. On Tuesday night, Bitch Media co-founder Andi Zeisler tweeted, “Who is going to write the definitive essay on whether Kamala Harris, born…

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