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The Bob Dole generation
So why then, given this electronic "kiddies' bouillabaisse," has the Millennial generation been earmarked by William Strauss, coauthor (with Neil Howe) of Generations, 13th-Gen, and the just-published Fourth Turning, as the next "civic" generation, modeled after—of all people—Bob Dole?

Strauss asserts that this age group has stepped into a world where, as one 16-year-old said it, "Doing corrupt and unhealthy things is just a part of everyday life." Strauss says that public cynicism and the absence of heroes has reached a "settled acceptance"; that the "dangerous sexual landscape is status quo"; and that "technology is a given." But the Millennial generation, he says, "is coming of age at a time when the adult community has determined that the conditions of childhood are unacceptable. It has become the nation's top priority."

In Generations, Strauss and Howe write: "Boomers are setting about to protect children from the social and chemical residue of the euphoric awakening they themselves had launched a quarter century earlier. … Grown-up Boomer radicals who once delighted in shocking their own moms and dads now surprise themselves with their own strictly perfectionist approach to child nurture."

Jane Pauley leaves the Today show to be with her kids; Anna Quindlan, for the same reason, leaves the New York Times; Charles Krauthammer writes "Drown the Berenstein Bears" ("a cry against youth literature that celebrates the parent as pal," says Strauss). "We, the great middle of the electorate that makes up the baby boom generation, are not raising our children as well as our parents raised us," decries U.S. News (Sept. 9, 1996), encapsulating the theme ...

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In the Magazine

February 3, 1997

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