Ayn Ryan: the Gen X pol we deserve? Yes, but hardly the first.



Yes.  Yes, he is.  But Historiann must disagree in the strongest possible terms with Noreen Malone’s claim that Ayn Ryan is “the first member of his generation to run on a major party ticket.”  Is our collective historical memory shorter than four years now?  (Oh, the United States of Amnesia!  How we miss you already, Gore Vidal!  I picture you in an afterlife on the set of the Dick Cavett show with fellow guests Norman Mailer, Bill Buckley, and Truman Capote, all of you just as bitchy as ever, forever!)

Gen X? You betcha!

Anyhoo, to the topic at hand:  Sarah Palin (b. February 11, 1964) was of course the first Gen Xer to run for either President or Vice President on a major party ticket.  Like, DUH!  Douglas Coupland, the author of the novel Generation X, defined Gen X as people too young to remember John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but old enough to remember the world before MTV.  I guess all of that femaleness and all of those kids put the zap on our brains, and we forgot that she was also a generational pioneer, in addition to being the first Vaginal American GOP Vice Presidential candidate.  Paul, on the other hand, looks like every other white dude who has run for President in U.S. History, so we look for things that make him super-special.  (He’s Catholic too of course, but most U.S. Catholics don’t practice Ayn Ryan’s style of Catholicism–at least Americans who aren’t Bishops or Archbishops bucking for Cardinal!)

To my mind, Ayn Ryan is cut from the same cloth as Palin, although (admittedly) he’s clearly read a wider selection of books that fifteen year-olds consider deep and important critiques of American society than Palin ever has.  They’re both trimmers who count on people being lazy, uninformed, and too easily distracted by their gin-up-the-base rhetoric to notice that their policy prescriptions are either foolish, or dangerous, or (typically) both.  They’re eager to help their wealthy masters become even wealthier, which only goes to show you that Gen X Pols are just like every other post-1970 American pol.

17 thoughts on “Ayn Ryan: the Gen X pol we deserve? Yes, but hardly the first.

  1. But but but….He’s a big fan of Rage Against the Machine!!!!! (Thank a higher power that he has not invoked St Joe Strummer or the record collection would be in for a severe culling)


  2. “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan” = “My ultimate Ayn Rand pr0n,” if anagrams are your things. (h/t “Yo, Is This Racist?”)


  3. I like that definition of Gen X — demographically 1964 is usually cited as the last year of the baby boom. That’s when I was born (I almost share a birthday with Palin — quelle horreur!!) but I have never had any cultural affinity with the people I think of as “real” boomers, exactly those who remember Kennedy and the Beatles. Ryan, et al., are making me finally let go of my subterranean assumption that younger people have more progressive politics.


  4. Huh, I had been thinking of President Obama as Generation X, too, but I see on Wikipedia he misses the cutoff by a few years. (Born in 1961, apparently Gen X starts in 1964).

    So Sarah Palin it is!


  5. Heh. Northern Barbarian & Fratguy, remember Bob Roberts? What a brilliant movie (and it features Gore Vidal in an acting role, too!) Ayn Ryan is Bob Roberts. (So is Chris Christie too, with his love for the Boss.)

    I would prefer to blame the Boomers for Ryan and Palin et al, but alas. Lindsay, your confusion about Obama is reasonable. After all, he made a big deal about leaving behind the same old stale polarities of the past in his 2007-08 campaign, implying that the Boomers like the Clintons, Bush, and Gingrich et al were endlessly replaying kulturkampfen scripts that were written in the 1960s, but that he would change all of that as the representative of a new generation. (How’s that working out for us, now that we’re seriously debating the legitimacy of contraception like it’s Griswold v. Connecticut 1965 all over again? Clearly it’s working out just fine for Gen X pols like Ayn Ryan and Palin!)

    Thanks for the anagram, Lady Historian: I’ll take it!


  6. Thanks for the link–I meant to look it up and post it for Fratguy’s benefit, but I was too lazy, too.

    (And I’ve never learned how to embed a link on someone else’s blog. I do it the cheater way own blog!)


  7. Generation baby bomber sees everyone after them as generation big X. Somehow, the whole GOP seems to me to belong to the 17th century. In other words, they are generation -X.

    Why is the lady boss mentioning, and repeatedly, that Italian guy Vidal?


  8. @Koshembos, you’re being unkind to the 17th century. They were much more open-minded than the GOP. (Sorry, 17th C historians gotta stand up for our period!)


  9. HA-ha.

    I never read Tolkein. Even as a child and young adult, they seemed just too weird. I read The Fountainhead in high school, and was deeply troubled by the way the major female character was portrayed and the weird relationship that she (and the author) had to Roark (was that his name in that book? I can’t remember.) If that was an “adult relationship,” I thought, count me out!

    I seem to remember a rape scene that the female character just loved.


  10. To embed a link in someone else’s blog all you gotta do is write it out in HTML code like we used to do before we had all these fancy-schmancy programs.

    Nice post — I’m thinking we tag-team the Repubs to death his fall. Tenured Raducal spent the day that shoulda been spent on syllabi on Todd Akin instead.



  11. I’ve always described myself (another product of 1964) as “technically a boomer,” so I’ve no objection to losing that label (basically, my theory is that coming at the very tail end of the baby boom means that there is sometimes excess capacity in social infrastructure that caters to my age group — e.g. it was relatively easy for me to get into college, which may also explain something about Palin — but that by the time I get to a certain age, people are really, really tired of catering to that age group. I fear the latter phenomenon is going to be increasingly relevant as the boomers become increasingly expensive to cater to — see, for instance, all the declarations that changes in medicare and/or social security won’t affect those now over 55, which isn’t very comforting to those just under 55, who will have the least time to plan for the changes). I don’t really want to be a Gen X-er though (though I fit the Coupland definition; I was in utero at the time of the Kennedy assassination); not being much of a joiner anyway, I’m perfectly happy *not* to belong to a recognized generation.

    Also, I find the fact that I’m the same age as Michelle Obama (another person born in 1964) a bit intimidating (she seems to have much more energy than I do). The fact that I’m the same age as Sarah Palin is considerably less intimidating (even though she, too, seems to have more energy. Sometimes there’s something to be said for just sitting there.)

    Is Ayn Rand big at others’ universities? We have an Ayn Rand society and everything. How big it is, I don’t know, but it does seem to have survived past the 4-year mark, which suggests either a critical mass of ongoing interest or outside agitation.


  12. . . . not being much of a joiner anyway, . . .

    That is SO Gen-X! Boomers and Millennials are so much more likely to be joiners. Civic and private institutions would wither and die with only Gen-Xers around.

    I think perhaps one reason Ayn Rand resonates so much with Gen-Xers is that we grew up in the shadow of the boomers & suffered a withdrawl of public support for our schools (Prop 13, anyone? The Sagebrush Rebellion?) Perhaps it’s no wonder many of us fantasize that we’d be happy to go it alone and follow our own genius (or whatever) a la Roark. Maybe some of that skepticism of the value of government programs runs deep in people who grew up in schools that cut the school year when school levies didn’t pass.

    I’ll also note that it’s Gen-X parents who have created all of the recent outbreaks of measles and pertussis lately, since a significant slice of us don’t want to vaccinate our children. Part of this may be due to the same libertarian strain, but maybe a larger part of it is that unlike boomers, we never saw anyone confined to an iron lung and never had to stay home from swimming because of polio.

    (I think all of this libertarian stuff is nonsense, but I have to own my generation, so that’s why I say “we” and “us.” Me, I love vaccination and public schools!)

    I’ve never heard of a Rand society at my uni, but I’m pretty clueless about what’s going on. I’ve never heard of Rand books assigned in a literature class, or even in an intellectual history class. (At least not yet!)


  13. @Historiann –
    “[I]t’s Gen-X parents who have created all of the recent outbreaks of measles and pertussis lately, since a significant slice of us don’t want to vaccinate out children. Part of this may be due to the same libertarian strain, but maybe a larger part of it is that unlike boomers, we never saw anyone confined to an iron lung and never had to stay home swimming because of polio.”

    I’d be more willing to believe it’s the latter, and predict that vaccine non-compliance will continue to be a problem as more members of my generation become parents.


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