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Are baby boomers to blame for Afghanistan?

Meghan McCain and Steven Crowder are among young conservatives calling out the age of political leaders. What happened to the wisdom of elders?

Meghan McCain speaks at the “No Fear: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People” event in Washington, Sunday, July 11, 2021.
Meghan McCain speaks at the “No Fear: Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People” event in Washington, Sunday, July 11, 2021, co-sponsored by the Alliance for Israel, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International and other organizations.
Susan Walsh, Associated Press

It’s not just the Biden administration’s policies under fire in the wake of America’s exit from Afghanistan. Some critics are even suggesting that the pullout was chaotic and deadly, in part, because of the age of the president and other government leaders.

Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late U.S. senator and presidential candidate John McCain and a former host of “The View,” led the charge with an Aug. 26 tweet in which she lambasted baby boomers who refuse to retire.

“I’m just hoping at some point our country isn’t held hostage by the very specific shortcomings of our almost octogenarian boomers in all levels of government (on both sides,”), wrote McCain, who is 36.

President Joe Biden became the oldest U.S. president to assume office when he was inaugurated in January at age 78. Born in 1942, he’s not officially a baby boomer, the generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964.

But boomer resentment bleeds through the boundaries for some younger Americans who are frustrated by older Americans’ unwillingness — or inability — to retire and to move out of their homes.

NPR reported recently that some people are blaming the record-low housing inventory —which is resulting in homes selling for tens of thousands of dollars, even millions, over asking price — on baby boomers who are staying in their homes even after their children move out. Despite being 28% of the adult population, boomers hold 44% of real estate wealth, NPR’s Sarah Gonzales said.

And workers are retiring three years later than they did in the 1980s, either because they have to or because they want to, Time magazine reported. About 20% of people over the age of 65, the traditional retirement age, were still working before the onset of the pandemic. “And, although they make up a smaller number of workers overall, the 65- to 74-year-old and 75-and-older age groups are projected to have faster rates of labor force growth annually than any other age groups,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All of this, combined with worrisome reporting about how America’s aging demographic is going to affect the country in the coming decades, is contributing to what has been called “generational warfare” between the country’s oldest and youngest adults. What’s surprising about the latest bombardment, however, is that it’s coming from young conservatives.

‘Embarrassing’ to be old?

In addition to McCain’s remarks, comedian/commentator Steven Crowder is among conservatives who repeatedly make fun of Biden by suggesting that he has dementia because of verbal gaffes. And John Brodigan, a writer for “Louder with Crowder,” recently mocked Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were photographed walking on a beach in late August. The couple, Brodigan wrote, has gotten “embarrassingly old.”

Steven Crowder speaks during his protest against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Michigan State capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Crowder focused on Whitmer’s decisions regarding seniors with COVID-19.
Nicole Hester, Mlive.com - Ann Arbor News via Associated Press

“Whoever took this photo should be ashamed of themselves. I remember when we respected our elders,” he wrote.

Brodigan was being sarcastic, but he pointed out the problem inherent in young conservatives making fun of their elders or suggesting that they’re too old to perform a job: Conservatism derives, in part, from respect for old things.

One of the 10 principles of classical conservatism is respect for custom, convention and continuity, according to the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.

Responding to McCain’s tweet, a number of Twitter users agreed with her comment, including one woman who wrote “Boomers and older clinging to old beliefs, old systems and old standards are ruining, I don’t say this lightly, LITERALLY everything.”

But others chastised her for being rude and pointed out that McCain’s father had not retired when he died in 2018 at age 81.

And Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera took McCain to task, tweeting that he is an “almost octogenarian (78)” and not ready for retirement.

“I have more to say; these are fraught times. Experience counts,” Rivera said.

McCain responded, “I didn’t realize you were in government leadership, Geraldo.”

According to the Congressional Research Center, the average age of House members this year is 58.4; the average age of senators is 64.3

It’s not the first time that McCain has ripped into baby boomers. Last year, on “The View,” she said she was furious at boomers and millennials for not social distancing and causing the pandemic to worsen.