Ann A. Fishman: Candidates From Three Very Different Generations Will Produce the Next President

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One Boomer, One Xer and One "Silent" Vie for the White House -- What Impact on the Presidential Race?

Advances in medical science and knowledge of healthier lifestyles have given this generation a 'second middle age'

So far, the 2008 Presidential primaries and caucuses have produced a big focus on the ages of the voting public, as commentators assess which of the candidates will fare best among young voters, older voters and even middle-aged white men.

Generational expert Ann A. Fishman believes it is time to turn the tables -- and look carefully at how the generations to which each of the candidates belongs, produced very different individuals -- and likely, very different Presidents. She analyzes McCain, a member of the Silent Generation; Clinton, a Baby Boomer; and Obama, a Generation Xer.

About McCain -- the "Silent" Candidate

"Each generation is molded by the world events that occur during its formative years," says Fishman. "If you lived through the Great Depression, you carry some mark of that experience. You may be thrifty. If you lived through the Vietnam War during your formative years, it almost certainly affected your view of authority. These distinct historical experiences create characteristics that stay with people throughout the rest of their lives."

John McCain belongs to the Silent Generation (born 1925 to 1942), so named "Silents" by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss because this generation was wedged between two very powerful generations -- the World War II Generation and Baby Boomers. Interestingly, to date, this generation has never produced a President. However, Silents did produce every great Civil Rights leader, as well as most leaders of the Women's Movement. They humanized their world.

"Advances in medical science and knowledge of healthier lifestyles have given this generation a 'second middle age'," Says Fishman, "And John McCain exemplifies this trend."

"In the past, people were young, middle-aged, then elderly. Now, Silents are pioneers in creating a vital and active stage of aging: a second middle age and they are redefining how Americans are age-ing."

Fishman says that in McCain himself - scrappy, energetic, a war hero - voters may see an exemplification of this generation.

"McCain's own personal experiences give him more leadership ability than most members of the Silent Generation," she concludes.

Clinton's Baby Boomers (1943 to 1960)

Boomers are an idealistic generation, says Fishman, but perhaps paradoxically, also the "Me" Generation - an appellation drawn from their early, nurtured status and the fact that they were forced to focus on their own needs in order to sustain themselves in the overly competitive environment of large numbers of other Boomers.
Candidate Hillary Clinton, says Fishman, reflects this generation in a number of substantive and stylistic ways.

"Thanks to their nurtured, protected childhoods, Boomers have an overwhelming sense of entitlement. They have been taught that they can and should have it all. The historical experiences of their youth include Viet Nam; thus, they tend to question authority and break rules. The President with whom they most identify is JFK; thus, they tend to be idealistic and global. This is the Peace Corps generation that grew up wanting "to teach the world to sing."        
Clinton represents these themes as a candidate so she resonates with many Boomers, as well as older generations who have historically followed the lead of Boomers." concludes Fishman.

Barack Obama's Generation X (born 1961 to 1981))
Fishman's generational research indicates that Generation Xers have endured divorce, one-parent families, step-families, working parents, latch-key lives, violence on television, violence in the streets, an increasingly prevalent drug culture, and a breaking down of traditional values and sources of comfort.

"They've grown up in a world in which sex can kill you, and in which government entitlement programs for older generations could make their taxes go sky-high. The history of their formative years has forced them to be cynical and pragmatic. They create their own generational patterns in order to survive."

Fishman continues: "Generation X is color-blind and gender-neutral. They are open to change, and seek it, but their pragmatic side would never let them vote for a Presidential candidate on that alone."

She concludes, "Xers believe the older generations, particularly Boomers, have made a mess of things so this entrepreneurial generation is willing to try something -- or someone -- new."

Fishman added: "Xers recognize hype and spin and they resent it. They appreciate authenticity and an honest, straight-forward approach. Burn them once, lose them forever."
Obama, on the cusp between Boomers and Xers, reflects a bit of Boomers' idealism and hope as well as X's need to create something different. Future Gen X Presidential candidates will be more X, less Boomer. In that sense, he may well be a harbinger of candidates -- and Presidents -- to come.

About the Generational Approach
Based on Fishman's research into the habits and values of America's six living generations -- the G.I. Generation, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation 9/11, each generation brings a distinctive set of traits, habits and characteristics. These are important keys to understanding political dynamics and voting patterns in elections.

About Ann Fishman and Generational Targeted-Marketing
More information on Ann Fishman's generational expertise can be found at Fishman's company, Generational-Targeted Marketing Corp. (GTM), specializes in marketing information that provides insight into consumer preferences, buying habits and trends affecting the American consumer. As GTM's president, Fishman has served as a consultant to numerous corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations and has presented her theories on generational issues to them. Fishman is a member of the Adjunct Faculty at New York University. For further information on GTM, call 1-504-813-7890.


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