Act like you're raising the next century's President
On inter-generational competition, Mitt Romney's father, and who's currently raising the child who will be President in the year 2102
Senator Mitt Romney, in remarks at the American Enterprise Institute, suggested that "I think it's time for my generation to get off the stage. There are far too many Boomers around." Baby Boomers do, in fact, make up a super-majority in the Senate and a majority in the House. And there are still members of the "Silent Generation" in both houses, as well -- and in the White House, too. President Biden was born in 1942, making him a pre-Boomer.
■ While inter-generational struggles are often as unproductive as other arbitrary battle lines, there is something to be said for taking note of just how far out a generation's impact can be. It is plausible, at least, that just as a couple of parents in Scranton, Pennsylvania, were unwittingly raising a future President of the United States eighty years ago in the midst of World War II, so too could some parents today be raising someone who will be President of the United States in the year 2102.
■ That is a daunting prospect. But nobody knows whether their child (assuming they meet the Constitutional eligibility requirements) might actually grow up to be President. Many have emerged from entirely unlikely childhoods. Someone, somewhere, is raising a future POTUS right now.
■ With what virtues, values, and habits should we hope they are raising that child? Honesty, courage, and justice, to be sure. But vitally, we ought to expect our Presidents to demonstrate curiosity, competence, and humility. And we ought to expect those characteristics not just from our Presidents, but also from our Senators, our Representatives, our governors, and our mayors, school board members, and sheriffs, too.
'■ Those virtues are hard to instill in adulthood. They tend to emerge from high parental expectations, loving guidance, and lots of practice in a person's early years. Few people have true conversion moments like Saul on the road to Damascus. The major personality traits tend to remain mostly stable from mid-adolescence into adulthood (though experiences along the way can certainly affect us).
■ Thus, even acknowledging that parents are only a factor among many in determining who any individual will turn out to be, many people who turn out to be influential leaders point squarely to their childhood influences -- particularly to their parents -- in shaping them. Senator Romney is one among them.
■ Whether "it's time" for one generation "to get off the stage" or not, Mother Nature ensures that the baton gets passed sooner or later. If we aren't conscious of the influences that are shaping the young people around us, and if we aren't deliberately trying to instill the virtues in every child that we would expect to see exhibited in the highest offices of government, then we risk setting up the future for disaster. Someone in America is raising a future President right now and doesn't know it. To be safe, every family ought to act like it's them.