Not only did almost half of voting Gen Xers support Ventura, 26 percent of the 18- to 24‐year‐olds surveyed by the Minneapolis Star‐Tribune said that if it hadn’t been for Jesse, they would have stayed home. Is the lesson here that Generation X backs only pro wrestlers and other candidates who break the political mold? Maybe. But the more important lesson is simply that Generation X will turn out if motivated. And as Gen Xers learn that their collective voice can make a difference, they may start using it more often.
The potential for a politically active Generation X is particularly important as national attention shifts to Social Security reform. Typically, any whispers from the 20‐somethings on this subject are drowned out by a deafening roar from senior citizens. Certainly Social Security reform does not seem like an issue with appeal for Generation X. After all, this generation has largely written off Social Security–polls show that most Gen Xers expect the system to go bankrupt before they see a dime in benefits.
During the next year Generation X will learn that the debate is about more than just far‐off monthly retirement checks. It’s also about a tumorous tax burden that will eat away larger and larger portions of their incomes throughout their working lives, unless Social Security undergoes fundamental reform. Although defenders of the status quo say that the system can be fixed with “small adjustments,” Generation X would be wise to apply its legendary skepticism to such claims.