Talking To His Generation

by Conor Friedersdorf

This James Poulos post makes an astute point about the SOTU speech:

More than anything, I was struck last night by the generational aspect of the President's address.

Sorry, young people: galvanizing the under-30 set makes great campaign material, but now it's all about helping the aged. You heard it in the feel-your-pain reference to the bygone era of local factory jobs. You heard it in the human-interest stories of heroically repurposed near-retirement-age businessfolk. Above all, you heard it in the surrealistically repurposed Sputnik Moment, which became in Obama's hands a way to get older Americans to imagine that the reliable, stable world of their past was actually a cavalcade of personal reinvention and societal reeducation.

Young Americans? To the extent that we heard anything, we heard that our future is cut and dried: science and math education, because that's what they do in China; a career as a scientist, an engineer, or a science and math teacher, because in South Korea those people are celebrated as "nation builders;" a lifetime of work spent in an economy propped up by spending, subsidies, and a perpetual partnership between big government and big business.