The Meathead Vote: For liberal baby boomers, it’s always 1972

Posted by on Dec 02, 2011 at 9:49 am

Much of the hype over the Obama “youth vote” can be attributed to the nostalgia of liberal baby boomers for their own youth, circa 1972. The 26th Amendment having been ratified the previous year, it was the first election in which people born between 1948 and 1954, a seven-year span, were permitted to vote nationwide. The “youth candidate” was George McGovern, although exit polls show he got only 46% of the 18-29 vote to President Nixon’s 52%.

Still, Nixon’s overall margin was 61% to 38%, so there was something of a generation gap. If you’re too young to remember and want to see it dramatized, tune in to an old episode of “All in the Family,” a contemporaneous sitcom in which Mike “Meathead” Stivic, the liberal college student played by Rob Reiner (born in 1947 and now a portly sexagenarian with a bald pate and a white beard) clashes endlessly with “white working-class” father-in-law Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O’Connor (born in 1924).

To the extent that Meathead represented a mass political movement, it was one focused on a single issue: ending the draft. Once Nixon signed the law abolishing conscription in 1973, the army of Meatheads dissolved. But liberal baby boomers do maintain an outsize influence on the culture, since they essentially run most media and educational institutions.

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