“If some millennial manages to become the next president of the United States — say, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who’s definitely not running — Generation X may have lost its shot at the Oval Office.
“It wouldn’t have been for lack of trying. In 2016, several representatives of the generation born between 1965 and 1980 (give or take a few years in either direction) took running leaps in the presidential primaries: Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker; Ted Cruz even gave Donald Trump a run for his money, and conservative independent candidate Evan McMullin was considered a real contender to win Utah’s six electoral votes.
“What would a Gen X president have to offer? You may still think of Generation X as the slackers from such ’90s classics as Singles, Reality Bites, and, well, Slackers. But that was then. Now, they’re the tough, no-nonsense former latchkey children. “Gen-X did not inherit the military structure of the Greatest Generation, the class structure of the Silent Generation, nor the automatic economic growth given to the baby boomers,” GOP consultant Brad Todd wrote in The Atlantic last year. “Instead, they inherited the latchkey kid autonomy that came from a skyrocketing divorce rate, and the adult career uncertainty ushered in by post-industrial economic transition.”
“As a generation, Pew tells us, Gen X is politically about halfway between the more conservative boomers and the more liberal millennials — whether that’s a shifting-right-with-age phenomenon or something deeper is presumably to be determined. But it seems more complicated than simply occupying the political center. “It was Gen Xers who popularized the phrase ‘socially liberal, economically conservative,'” generational researcher David Rosen wrote at Politico in January 2016, “an ideological orientation reflecting their underlying distaste for authority.”