Krystal Ball: Buttigieg is 'the boomer candidate'

Opinion by: Krystal Ball

The vague optimistic platitudes. The promise of "generational change," which really just means the status quo only from a younger dude. The rapid ascent through the echelons of elite status providing reassurance that the American meritocracy is functioning just fine and is not in fact a rotten soulless fraud designed to rob the masses of dignity. It all strikes a certain chord, a dog whistle of bland aspiration of the kind you'd find on a motivational poster at the dentist's office, that arrives to the ears of its target generation at a perfect pitch. 

That's right, Mayor Pete is the boomer candidate. Now the boomers I'm talking about here are the affluent sort. The college educated MSNBC watching type. This is not just my guess although it certainly would be my guess without numbers to back it up. But the numbers do in fact back it up. 

There's a new Monmouth poll out that has a three way tie for the national lead. We're going to talk about that more later. But buried in the crosstabs, you'll find that while Pete has garnered a mere 5% of supporters under 50, a full 12% of the over 50 crowd is pining for Pete. Economist/YouGov has the most detailed cross tabs and they have consistently found that Pete's strongest age support came from those over the age of 45. Quinnipiac? Same deal. 

As best as I can tell, this is a demographic appeal which is unique to Pete. Obviously the young folks love Bernie and the old folks, they love Biden, but only Pete jacks up the score squarely in the boomer zone. So what is it about the Pete pitch that lands with the 55-75 year old demo? 

Well to start with, boomer's love the *idea* of appealing to young people, they just don't like the revolutionary change politics that come with *actually* appealing to young people. There is something so perfectly boomer about thinking that the way to win millennials is simply by talking about being a millennial. This of course is the Mayor Pete way. Forget about devastating climate change, massive debt loads, poverty wages and living in a sixth floor walk-up closet with four of your friends. 

Bloomberg is actually reporting on a new study showing how the opioid crisis and decades of endless wars have wreaked havoc on the health of millennials. Massive problems requiring systemic change way beyond just beating Trump.

But none of this seems to register for the affluent boomer who believes if we just bring in a young person to say the same old crap then the young people will love it! I guarantee you that if you asked Pete's boomer supporters where he gets most of his support from they would tell you it's from those under 30. I see this all the time in the media world. Someone in management will create a new show or product that they want to appeal to millennials and they go about it by giving people titles like "millennial correspondent" and just saying the word millennial a lot. Those projects always get funding and never get views.  

Let me ask you this, boomer. Do you like the idea of everyone getting health care coverage as long as it doesn't cost you anything and you still get to be at the front of the line? Pete's your guy with medicare for those who want it! Do you like the feeling of doing something about climate without having to actually change your day to day life or reorient your consumerist values? Pete is there to reassure you on his website that: "As big as this crisis is, our ideas and aspirations are big enough to meet it." Do you believe that our biggest problem is our lack of civility but also spend countless hours a day watching strangers yell at each other every day on cable news? Then Mayor Pete who loves to talk about the things that unite us except when he's laying into Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies MORE or Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke says he 'absolutely' plans to stay in politics Krystal Ball: Buttigieg is 'the boomer candidate' Language is a weapon in political warfare — if the media play along MORE, is the candidate for you. 

 

I rest my case.

You see, for boomer elites, admitting that there are actually real issues with a system means admitting that they screwed stuff up. They're all about change as long as it doesn't mean you know anything will actually change for them. They're all the way in for a good hopeful optimism that says sure things aren't perfect, but I'm a McKinsey Consultant and Rhodes Scholar and our dreams are as big as our aspirations which can be achieved if we just work together towards a greater goodness of our unified perfection etc etc etc. 

Plus he's gay so just electing him counts as progress right? Ummm yeah. Ok boomer.