Baby Boomers are asking Perot, 'Are we there yet?'

Mike Royko

June 16, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

Because of Ross Perot's sudden popularity, the pollsters are frantically poking into the brains of every known voting bloc for clues to this political upheaval.

And one of their recent discoveries is that Baby Boomers like him better than Bill Clinton.

This is considered stunning data because it could mean that many Baby Boomers are rejecting a chance to elect a fellow Baby Boomer as America's first Baby Boomer president.

The question is why? But there is not a clear answer yet because the information is still in the process of going through the national news media digestive tract.

This digestive process involves the pollsters telling the media what 976 people told them, and the media flipping their Rolodex cards and phoning political science professors, who say whatever pops into their heads because if they don't, they won't be called again and will spend the rest of their lives talking to bored students, instead of being invited to appear live on CNN.

Because I am part of the media process, I decided to seek an explanation from Dr. I.M. Kookie, who is a world-renowned expert on lots of stuff.

"It is not at all surprising," Dr. Kookie said. "It fits in with a scientific theory I have developed."

And what is the name of this theory?

"It is called the 'OK, Everybody In Let's Go Theory.' "

Would you explain that?

"Sure. What do you say when you're driving a bunch of kids somewhere, to Little League or soccer practice or a swimming meet or tennis lessons or any of the other things that all the modern-day yuppie-type Baby Boomers do? What do you say?"

As I recall, I said something like: "OK, everybody in? Let's go."

"Exactly. Now you understand."

Understand what?

"I'll explain. The Baby Boomers were the first generation of Americans to do what? I'll give you three guesses because you're not a scientist."

Uh, they were the first Americans to go prematurely deaf from listening to loud rock music?

"Besides that."

The first to try marijuana without inhaling?

"One more try."

I give up.

"OK, they were the first generation to always have someone drive them somewhere in a car."

Of course. I should have known.

"No, because you're not a renowned expert. See, before World War II, more people didn't have cars than had cars. And more people lived in big cities or on farms or in hick towns instead of in suburbs. So depending on where you lived, if you went somewhere, you walked or took a streetcar or an elevated train or thumbed a ride."

Yes, people hitched rides in the days before serial killing became popular.

"And even if your father had a car, he wasn't going to drive you to Little League or soccer because there was no Little League and people didn't play soccer. You went to the schoolyard or the park or the empty lot or in the alley and got a game going with the guys who were hanging out."

True. My father wouldn't have dreamed of driving me to the regular back-alley crap game.

"But then, after the Big War, the vets started moving to the suburbs and they had to have cars or it would have been like being marooned on a desert island. They started having all these millions of kids who are now in their 30s and 40s. And these kids grew up thinking that was what a father and mother were put on Earth for -- to drive them somewhere. And then to pick them up and drive them home again."

It's all becoming clear. But why Ross Perot?

"Take a good look at him. He looks like the perfect Little League father. Picture him barking at the team manager: 'I'm giving you one more warning -- put my kid in at shortstop or you're through.' "

Yes, I can see it. Aggressive, feisty, demanding.

"That is why they like Perot better than Bush, who would just smile politely and say: 'Golly, how about letting junior try the pinch hit thing?' "

Yes, I can see that, too. Bush would turn off the Embarrassed Kid Who Made an Error Voting Bloc. But I still don't understand why the Baby Boomers would be so eager for change when they have had more comfortable lives than all the generations that came before them.

"I'll answer that with a question. What is the first complete sentence most of them uttered as children?"

Turn on the TV?

"Close, but no. For most, the first sentence was: 'Are we there yet?' "

Of course. And that fits right in with . . .

"Yes, with the 'OK, Is Everybody In Let's Go Theory.' Impatience, a dread of boredom, a hunger for new experiences, new sights, new sounds."

And Ross Perot promises quick action, instant gratification.

"Yes, millions of Baby Boomers don't realize it, but their subconscious is crying out to him: 'Are we there yet?' And he's yelling to the back seat of the station wagon: 'In a couple of minutes.' "

But why not Clinton?

"Because he's the smirky brother who's taking up too much room in the back seat."

And Bush?

"Because when they say, 'Are we there yet?' he says, 'Golly, I don't know, who's got the map?' "

Yes, it all makes sense. But one other question. Just where is it that they want to be when they ask Perot: 'Are we there yet?'

"They don't know. But they think he'll get them there before they wet their pants."

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