Exceptionalism Ends

American “exceptionalism,” a euphemism for “we’re better than everyone else,” ends with the Baby Boom. You see a clean break at birth dates around 1960.

Most educated people born before 1960 think about US policy (economic and otherwise) from a basic assumption of unlimited economic, financial and military resources. Most born after 1960 assume we have limited resources, and must prioritize and allocate accordingly.

You see this break vividly among political candidates. The Boomers (Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and especially George W Bush) unconsciously assume limitless American power and wealth. By contrast, the Gen Xers (Obama), who reached adolescence after Vietnam and during the oil shocks, assume limited resources.

Limited resources require prioritization, compromise, and cleverness. These skills are best learned early, so Gen Xers have a built-in advantage. But no matter who wins the election, America and its constituents will imminently and painfully relearn rusty skills.

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