Generation X has always known that the real power was going to be handed from the Baby Boomers directly to Millennials. And that’s fine. Most of us want no part of it. But there are a few political figures from the current Lost Generation who are making waves.
Sen. Ted Cruz is exactly how we imagine a middle aged Alex P. Keaton. Ex-presidential candidate Beto O’Rouke seems like the kid who ate chalk in middle school to impress his friends. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could not look more like the guy we would sacrifice to the thankless and taxing job of being president. But one politician truly embodies Gen X more than any other, and she is Kyrsten Sinema.
FILE – August 4, 2021 – Washington, DC, United States: U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaking at a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
(Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)
The Democratic senator from Arizona is very much in the news today. Along with the other “rogue Democrat” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, she holds the entire Biden domestic agenda in the palm of her hand. So far her response to this has seemed to be something along the lines of “whatever, never mind.”
Progressives (read Millennials and Boomers), are furious. This cavalier attitude undermines all of their orthodoxies. But Sinema is not a moderate Democrat just because she thinks $3.5 trillion is too extravagant a gift for the progressive caucus and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s squad’s congressional debutante ball.
One exchange with a reporter on Wednesday certified Sinema’s Gen X bona fides. When a reporter suggested House Democrats didn’t “know where you are” she said, “I’m in the Senate.”
The reporter pressed, “There are progressives in the senate that are also frustrated they don’t know where you are.” Senator Gen X replied, “I’m clearly right in front of the elevator.”
This response was worthy of Daria, maybe even Jane. And Sinema has the boots to solidify her solidarity with that cult 1990s MTV cartoon series. In fact, Sinema’s fashion sense is familiar to all of us who lived through the joy that was the ‘90s.
Sometimes it isn’t clear if she is attending a committee hearing or a Throwing Muses concert. Or maybe a Kristin Hersh solo thing.
Anyway, the point is, progressives can try to call her names, it won’t matter. They can try to break her spirit, it won’t work. And that is the secret of Gen X.
Sinema is the first openly bisexual senator in American history, but she never brings it up, neither does anyone else. That’s because nobody in Gen X thinks who you sleep with or what your identity is matters very much. So she is also immune to accusations of “privilege,” or whatever.
FILE – President Joe Biden, center, addresses Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, left, while speaking to members of the media with Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, from right, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, outside the West Wing of the White House following a meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 24, 2021.
(Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Gen X doesn’t need power. Gen X doesn’t particularly want power. It is enough to be able to say no. Thus far Sen. Sinema is saying no to the progressive wish list CVS receipt that Democrats are trying to push past the goalie. In the spirit of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team, I suggest she is just as capable of this as Manchin.
History favors the bold. I don’t know if she will fold. But I kind of doubt it.
Generations set goals. The Greatest wanted prosperity and a better life for their kids. The Boomers wanted the world to be molded in their image. Millennials seem to crave an ultimate order they don’t really believe in. Gen X just wants to be left alone. That’s the ethos.
Joe Biden can’t leave Kyrsten Sinema alone right now. He needs her. His whole deal depends on it.
It is in the hands of Gen X. Good luck.
David Marcus is a columnist living in New York City and the author of “Charade: The Covid Lies That Crushed A Nation.”