The voting bloc that goes away — for good

Contributing WriterNovember 30, 2013 

An unspoken secret does not bode well for my generation of seniors. For better or for worse, we are gradually losing our say on some of what the world believes is right and some of what the world believes is wrong.

Same-sex marriage, for instance. Male, supremacy, for instance. Looking, for instance, at the world through narrow eyes as we judge which religions are sound and which are silly.

Eventually, the Grim Reaper will decide such matters by removing the most unchangable generation from life and thereby from influence.

That is nothing new. Decades ago, our generation outlived our parents and grandparents and eventually outvoted them on the norms of yesteryear. We gradually advanced the cause of greater equality for minorities and for that one big underprivileged majority, women.

When we were born, women and people of color were a bare handful of the 535 members of Congress. With a couple of brief exceptions, none of our governors were women. A governor of color was a virtual impossibility. The Supreme Court was all white and all male.

That had long been the way of almost all of our ancestors. Then our generation came along and began a few changes that our children would amplify and our grandchildren would nail down for good and forever.

Any legitimate cause or belief that divides the oldest among us from and the younger generations will be decided by the younger generations.

The growth of individual freedom and learning to mind our own business have all been advanced by younger generations struggling against their elders to open minds even wider. And yes, the young ones sometimes get it wrong. Finding a true course is usually two steps forward and one back. But the kids get it right more often than the disappearing generation.

There was once a time when interracial marriage was opposed by a majority of the population. And there was a time when most adults were dead-set against the marriage of their offspring to mates from different religions.

Today, same-sex marriage is a case in point. Gallup pollsters note that, in 1996, 41 percent of people 18 to 29 years old believed same-sex marriage should be permitted.

Today, 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds hold that view.

On the other hand, in 1996, 14 percent of people 65 or older favored same-sex marriage.

Today, 41 percent of those 65 or over support that position.

You can see where this is heading. It’s just a matter of two or three years before a majority of my generation reaches the same point of view. The speed of the change is quickened by the fact my generation is also changing its mind, accepting the reality of that course.

Bear in mind, not all elders are close-minded, but substantial numbers of our kind risk getting a bit dizzy if the world and social changes turn around too fast.

Meanwhile, my generation will help decide the issue of same-sex marriage simply by moving on, by removing themselves from life on Earth and thereby ending their more conservative slant on change. Our faction is heading for the exit. We won’t so much be outvoted as we will be outlived.

And speaking for myself, if I gotta go, it will be with the uplifting realization that the world from which I depart is a bit kinder than the heavily bigoted world I entered back in the days of a dominant white male culture.

When it comes to gradually ridding the world of its shortcomings, we have the exiting elders to thank for their final contribution. Each older generation takes a load of ignorance with it when it goes.

Contact columnist Bill Hall at wilberth@cableone.net or 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.

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