In Defense of Millennials

I am a millennial. I am weary of the regular soundbites, articles, and workplace rhetoric bashing my generation as lazy and entitled. Some members of my generation no doubt are, but so are members of other generations. Let him without sin cast the first stone. I look around at the state of my nation and the world, and I fear for my son’s future. Yes, my son. I have a job, a family, and a mortgage. The oldest of us are in our thirties. But I argue that my generation did not cause the problems I see around me; rather, we inherit them. We did not create the terrible maelstrom of corporate greed, wage stagnation, political gridlock, racial tension, hyper-consumerism, broken families, obesity, environmental degradation, failing schools, and terrorism that is raining its fury all over the good ol’ US of A. That doesn’t even cover the rest of the world.

Let’s talk about our presidential election. Millennials did not create Donald Trump. The youngest of us are still in school; the oldest of us were just starting our careers in the early 2000s. Looking back at the last decade in Washington, it is overshadowed by gridlock, filibustering, and government shutdowns, all exacerbated by 24-hour for-profit cable news cycles that demonize those with differing opinions. And the solution? Nominate a reality TV star for president. Naturally. We have stepped into a Christopher Buckley novel except it’s president and not supreme court justice. Millennials did not create this.

How is it that an offensive, amoral reality TV star is a serious contender for the highest office in our nation? Let’s recap — career politicians that can’t reach across the aisle and care more about their own reelection than the good of nation; wages that have actually decreased over the several decades and have not kept up with the rate of inflation; divisive for-profit news becoming the primary source of Americans’ world news. We have a nation of people electing arguably the most powerful person in the world, and most of them can’t even name the leaders of other world powers or identify other major nations on a map. Most Americans have such a poor understanding of history or world affairs that they can’t articulate why 9/11 happened or what policies and interventions have escalated US tensions with the Middle East. And so, blissfully ignorant, they rally to the reality TV star’s cry to bomb them all and shoot their families. What happened to honor? To prudence, justice, and fortitude?

I could go on and on. Excessive waste and a throw away culture. Global warming. Families going bankrupt to pay for medical bills. A major recession caused by subprime mortgages that has limited the job and earnings potential of my generation. And so here I’ve come full circle. These are the problems my generation has to suffer and try to fix for our children. The next time you think about complaining that we are lazy and entitled, think first about the legacy your generation has dealt us.

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