All the Way to Midnight
Boomers fueled the MAGA movement and now the bell curve is descending.
The MAGA movement, based on aging white boomer victimhood is a bell curve. That bell curve has peaked for the simple reason that boomers, of which I am one, are dying off. We are the MAGA movement. How we got here is a combination of our own disconnection and the vulnerability which that created to decades of carefully crafted manipulation.
Boomers were wholly unprepared for the blunt manipulations of Fox News, in bundled cable of the 90s. White boomers never faced the great depression, or a world war, yet we were particularly susceptible to the idea that we were victims of hardships. In part because of the restless disconnection of our gated community lives we bought fragile white victimhood hook, line and sinker.
After lifetimes of leaning into consumerism and mass consumption we boomers woke up to find ourselves angry and reactive to our own disconnection. Maybe a bigger SUV would help? Maybe a third marriage? That sense of disconnection was a warning, an inflection point. Some of us self reflected. Took stock. But many more of us doubled down on our nagging sense of victimhood. “Whatever the fuck is wrong here, it must be someone else’s fault. Women. Immigrants. Black people.” And Fox News was there to lovingly encourage our blind entitlement. To sell us our own failed white fragility.
The MAGA bell curve peaked as we moved into retirement, staring blankly at our own mortality. Because we had bought into the decades long drumbeat of individualism sold to us by a GOP bent on eliminating social safety nets, we sought validation in class and status and so ended up without community.
Retirement is when a strange unnamed panic really set in for boomers. No longer able to rely on the stale connection of surface level workplace relationships, we were left sitting alone in our easy chairs staring at the Tucker Carlsons of the Fox News rabbit hole. Again, it was an inflection point for some of us.
Some boomers said, “Maybe this creeping anxiety is my fault. Maybe this disconnection from my kids, my community, from the world right outside my door is my fault.” Some of us went looking for basic human connection. We realized we had been tricked into choosing disconnection. But so many more of us just got angrier.
Trump is the ongoing final act of angry white boomers. No longer did we have to coyly perform the wink wink of coded racist language about welfare queens and urban crime. We were liberated to march with Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, our creeping panic weaponized into authoritarian rage.
There is a fundamental dynamic at play in boomers who are all in on QAnon and MAGA. Each of us saw the off-ramps. We saw the moments in our relatively easy lives when we could’ve made a different choice, moved toward human connection. What’s creeping up on us is now is how late it has become.
For MAGA boomers to admit now, at this terribly late date, that all the white privilege and rage in the world isn’t calming our loneliness or our growing panic, means looking back on 70 years or more and admitting we fell prey to our most selfish, ugly, bullying instincts.
You want to talk terrifying? It is the archetypal Dickens moment. The final inflection point. Scrooge utterly alone staring at everything he values and realizing they are chains. The king MAGA boomer is Donald Trump. Doubling down on rage and dominance all the way to midnight.
To my brothers, sisters and non binary friends who have already heeded one of the many the inflection points and moved into diverse connection and community, thank you for your courage. Those still flailing amidst the mad contradictions of our fading generation? You can change. You can take the inflection point. It is never too late to do our work and change. But whatever we choose our days are numbered, and the midterms were proof of it. We boomers are exiting. Our influence is thankfully, ending. Buh-bye boomers. Including me.
If I have left the impression I’m calling all boomers MAGA I apologize. I often write about the failings of men only to bring down on myself the “not all men” response when my goal is to address behaviors that trend in populations but don’t define all that are in it.
If I have any single goal here, it is to invite self reflection about the deep social disconnection inherent in our boomer cohort as well as the generations that followed. This disconnection directly contributed to the anxiety and anger of those of us who have fallen into the MAGA movement.
Whatever casual dismissals corporate media cares to assign it, 2022 midterms are an historic inflection point in the pro democracy movement. Young American voters across race and gender have entered the chat. A sitting President and his party held its ground in a midterm for the first time in decades.