8/3/2016—I am 64-years old. I just realized that both Presidential candidates are older than I am. Donald Trump is 70; Hillary Clinton is 68.
This is ridiculous. Barack Obama will be 55 tomorrow. Happy birthday Mr. President.
What difference does this make? The baby boom generation—my generation—has already failed to make the world a better place. Or, if the world is better in some ways, my generation has nothing left to offer. It has led us to where we are now. Something new is needed.
That something new is not directly related to age. But it is directly related to technology. Most people in America have now grown up with the Internet and have been formed by it and by all that it implies. Trump and Clinton and I have not. So, whoever wins will be incapable of addressing the new world people are living in.
A recent article in the New York Review—In the Depths of the Digital Age, by Edward Mendelson, addresses these matters. I was surprised by how my assumptions are not the assumptions of my students in law school. Just one example—when I was around 13, I spent the summer at Pine Valley Camp in Canada. One day, I found an old Playboy Magazine. It was amazing to me. I had never seen a woman that undressed—she was of course not actually naked. I had never read sexually oriented discussion—it was not very graphic. I hid that magazine so I could get back to it. (Naturally, it disappeared).
According to Mendelson, the experiences of a 13-year old American boy today are different. I assumed that. But I never considered how different. Let’s just say, there are no such secrets for him. No guilty pleasure. No shame, but no satisfaction either. The world of sex has speeded up and is no longer sweet.
It’s just one example. But it is enough to remind me that there really are differences today among age groups. If we are at a dead end, then, like John Kennedy, we should at least start with a generational shift.
Real change—change you can believe in—is not going to come from Clinton or Trump. There is not anyone I know of in public life who could bring such change—Bernie is even older, after all—but not these two.
Ironically, the one voice that can teach us something new about technology is Martin Heidegger. He would be 127 today.