The key question is – “do what?” That’s the critical fork in the road we face: can the currently elected cadre of leaders composed mainly of Boomers manage the affairs of state prudently, or do they tank the very country they have siphoned from over the last 60 years?

I’m on the leading edge of the Xer age. And I’ve been convinced since my early years that things will not perpetually get better and better and better in our country, especially not with choices, patterns, and lifestyles that do not reward thrift, restraint, modesty, and patience. When I examine my elder brethren, I am left wondering if their lasting legacy upon this great land will be one which will resign them to the doghouse of historical judgment.

Boomers are poised to leave a determinative mark on their country. The question is what kind.

Compare the Boomers with the Builders generation. The Builders’ formative years, when their impressions of the world were being anchored in the wet cement of youth, consisted of experiences of tremendous loss and hardship – the Depression and successive recession of the 1930’s, followed by World War 2.

People had no choice but to learn the values of thrift, restraint, modesty, and character. There was no margin for reckless living without consequences. Margins were more than a line on a paper; they were rules to keep life in perspective. People retained an accurate view of their humanity—the clay feet that kept them grounded in a truthful, even if slightly harsh, view of life.

And yet, to have survived, endured, and then allowed to thrive after WW2 probably made it feel like they were being given a new lease on life. The future was a confident one, because the values they had learned through the fire were now in a position to pay off. The trials that started their life gave way to the optimism that followed.

The Boomers did not have it the same way. Their early years were full of bounty, plenty, even opulence by the world’s standards. They reveled and regaled in their abundance, and became consumed by triviality to where it became a staple of their life, a defining more of their generation. They had the ‘luxury’ of being radicalists, socialists, Marxists, anarchists, or whatever-ists because there was a thick, soft bottom known as prosperity that gave them the margin to experiment with all kinds of whacky, unrealistic philosophies on life – and get away with it, at least for a long time. If you’re leaping off a steep deck, it’s good to know whether you’ll land on a plush mattress or a concrete slab.

American Socialism as we see it today is not driven (or at least promoted and communicated) as much by an ideological purity to its European ancestors as it is by its own unique Yankee twist – something I would call “self-absorbed” socialism. It’s a socialism that is driven more by self-gratification and self-security than anything else. Unlike Bolshevism, which was driven into power during harsh and lean economic times in Russia, American socialism is driven by a sense of fulfillment – I want mine. It is rationalized into an entitlement – I deserve it. Don’t these phrases sound like typical commercial jingles and slogans heard ubiquitously on air?

When I heard the phrases a year ago about how “Obama will pay our mortgage” or “Obama will hand out cash”, it wasn’t for some noble cause of philosophical advancement. It was simply a case of “I want it, I need it, so give it.” Easy money from an unending supply, something the Boomers would have been accustomed to expecting. Thus they perpetuate the expectation.

The irony is that with the policies so favored among the receding hairline crowd of old 60’s flower kids now holding positions of power in DC, culture, and community, we could very well see the return of hardship to our country. Chief among these is a recognition that while the Builders endured great hardships on their way to a better future, the Boomers could see the squandering of their predecessors’ wealth from their own early years turned into an unforgiving winter of their final days as a generation.

Only this time, the character of the generation may not be ready to endure it.