A few years ago, a blog post titled “Generation X Doesn’t Want To Hear It” made the rounds in the social media feeds of most of my friends. Boy howdy, did that piece strike a chord, especially when we imagined it being read aloud by John Cusack. I’m a Bicentennial Baby, so I fall towards the tail end of GenX, which is typically delineated as anyone born between 1965 and around 1980. You don’t hear that much about us in the mainstream media. The Boomers and the Millennials, (God love them – and four of my five siblings are straight-up Millennials, so I know of what I speak) dominate the conversation in much the same way they dominate the demographic charts.
One scholar recently asked, “Where did the Xers go?” There’s a case to be made that a lot of us went into government. Increasingly, Xers make key decisions that impact the daily lives of each of us, ranging from federal budget policies to planning and zoning issues.
President Obama, born in 1961, is technically a Boomer, but there is plenty of evidence and discussion that suggests a more apt placement for him is GenX. And take a look at Congress, where the leaders making names for themselves these days are overwhelmingly GenX: Senators including Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representatives like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Martha Roby (R-AL), to name a few.
Nationally, 24.6% of state legislators are GenX. Georgia has the second-highest GenX population at 22.2% (Millennials are 28.3%; Boomers are 23.8%), and it will be fun to watch how our legislative demographics evolve to match that profile (this bill is one way for Millennials to gain ground) This is probably a fairly unique situation, but my House and Senate representatives, Representative Stacey Evans (D-42) and Senator Hunter Hill (R-6) are both Xers.
Finally, look at the county or city where you live. Even if you’re not in Atlanta, where Mayor Kasim Reed brings solid GenX credentials to the table, and your mayor, city council or county commission mostly looks like this, you can be sure that GenXers are serving in key staff positions and in appointed board positions at levels that are close to – and gaining on – Boomers, and definitely in larger numbers than Millennials.
This is not to say that Millennials shouldn’t be courted by candidates and parties, that they shouldn’t work harder to engage themselves in the process, or that – despite rising rates of natural attrition – Boomers should be discounted. But don’t discount GenX. We are a generation who isn’t afraid to buckle down and get stuff done, no trophy necessary.