Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30, Part . . .
Once again, the older generations have hijacked the West for a future that’s not sustainable, that’s not equitable, and one — most importantly — whose grotesque consequences they’ll never live to see.
A generational gap has come to the fore in the events of the past few months — days even. David Cameron’s botched referendum — Brexit — threatens to push the U.K. out of the European Union for little more reason than the great, haunting spectrum of “immigrants.” Driven into a frenzy by an elite political class that’s finding their crooked schemes have come back to bite them in the ass, a whopping 50+ percent of Britain voted to annihilate its own economy even further, setting the nation’s working class back even further.
The fact that enough people were willing to vote in accordance with the dog-whistle politics that become practically a mainstay in a post-global economic crisis world is, in some respects, not the biggest surprise of the past 24 hours. What’s truly profound is the age gap between the Europhile and Euroskeptic crowds. Older Brits have basically chosen to write off a future for the country’s youth.
Three-quarters of British voters 24 and under voted to remain. There were even some signs of life among the 25–49 crowd; 56 percent voted to remain. Those further away from receiving a pension, it appears, were less ready to accept an isolated Little England at the expense of economic security.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Donald Trump — America’s id — has won older Americans over with his own breed of vile anti-immigration sentiment. Early in his campaign, half of Trump’s supporters were between 45 and 64 years of age — old enough, in some cases, to remember the Vietnam War, but young enough to err on the later side of baby boomers. Young voters, meanwhile, have overwhelmingly rejected his brand of “conservativism.” Ask voters under 30 or 35 (depending on the poll) who they’d choose in a match up between Trump and Clinton, and the latter usually ends up with a double digit lead.
Of course, age differences became even more pronounced in the Democratic primary. For younger progressives, Jack Weinberg’s utterance — “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” — took on new life.
Sure, “younger generations” can be helplessly moronic and naive. In the United States, they were idiots when it came to Iraq. Sixty-nine percent of the 18–29 crowd supported a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2002. (A whopping 74 percent of Republican youngsters — apparently there were a few then — favored military action, though; Democrats hovered around 61 percent.)
But who can blame us for being angry now? Much of my generation has had to live through year after year of older generations plunging us into economic despair — whether it was born out of corrupt bankers (the global financial crisis) or a war pocked by lies (Iraq), in some ways, doesn’t matter.
Yes, maybe the issue is engagement. We’re less likely to vote. Despite growing up with a robust amount of data indicating global warming is a real threat, we’re more likely to be disengaged. We make up a not insignificant amount of participants in inane hashtag campaigns, like #SaveOurGirls or #Kony2012.
But we’re also bogged down, almost completely, by generational backlash. We’re the “worst generation”; despite rampant unemployment, especially among those of us without a college degree, we’re told we don’t understand what it means to “have it bad.” We’re a cohort of narcissists who’d really prefer it if you didn’t ask us to work, please. There’s even whisperers for those struggling to deal with us.
We’re mired in a sea of shit and up to our ears in economic insecurity wrought by our elders — so is it all surprising a few of us feel apathetic? Bludgeon us enough, and we’ll give in; chastise us enough, and we’ll succumb. Because, in all honesty, you’ve given us no reason to do otherwise.