Just published in the New Republic and written in anger and disappointment on Wednesday, the day after Joe Biden won Michigan’s primary. In the days that followed, we’ve been treated to a round-the-clock advertisement for the urgency of Medicare for all and the dysfunction of a social and economic system built for endless competition and consumption.
Generational arguments usually seem suspect to me, predicated on some version of the cliche about young people having a heart and older people having a head, or else on some ahistorical faith in inevitable progress without political struggle–once all the backwards old people die off and the progressive youth take over, then things will really change. But it’s impossible to avoid the generational dynamics in this presidential race, and it’s equally hard to avoid being enraged by them.
“A return to the “normal” pace of the years before Trump has been Biden’s biggest pitch. But as The New Republic’s Kate Aronoff has pointed out, “there’s no normal to return to where the climate is concerned.” There is no resurrectable past. There is only a rapidly approaching future, which many of us have come to anticipate with a sense of dread. Many of those who voted, willingly or not, for Biden’s climate plan—which calls for carbon neutrality by 2050, decades too late—will never have to live with its consequences. Nor, of course, will Biden himself.
Our problem—the problem of people under 45 or so—is that we will live with these consequences. If you are obliged to think much further ahead than the next four years, it is impossible to be both honest and optimistic about the future.”