Millennials typically don’t have much political power. Whether this is because the “old guard” of mostly “baby boomers” is slow to relinquish control, or “Gen X’ers” are ahead of Millennials in the slow-to-change power structure is not clear to me. It’s becoming increasingly clear, though, that the old needs to make way for the new. I know, it causes the grey-haired, well-heeled set heartburn to think of letting a new generation of Americans take a shot at holding political power, but let’s face it: we’re not in a great position in 2020. Some would say we are looking at the mid- to final-stages of a long, grueling decline from cultural and ideological dominance of the world. From China to climate change to big money granting political power, the future is not necessarily going to be brighter than our past. And this might be the first time since maybe 1929-1945 that Americans have felt this way. Certainly, we have come a long way from union jobs, putting a man on the moon, virtually inventing the Internet, and little national debt! What follows is a personal political philosophy I think is characteristic of Millennials, those who were born in approximately 1990 to 2000. Think of it as a possible answer if I were to have asked a 25-year-old what they think of the United States, “socialism”, why they like Bernie Sanders more often than not, and where they see us going in the short term:
“I believe in certain things that make sense to me, such as uncomplicated access to decent health care. Sixty percent of Americans can’t afford an $800 emergency bill; people are rationing insulin; people go bankrupt if they have a health crisis but no insurance (or their insurance plays capitalistic games and denies coverage).
I think climate change is not only not a hoax, it is probably the most important issue facing Americans and the world today.
I don’t approve of all the money that has flooded into politics; it is clear that the system is totally broken.
I don’t consider the word “socialist” to be a bad word; I’m not even sure I know what it really means. I know that government-administered programs can be very helpful, and my mom and dad are really going to need proper benefits in the next decade.
I am not a true believer in capitalism. I see such an economic system as accounting for the fact that three billionaires own more wealth than one-hundred-and-sixty MILLION people COMBINED. That is whack! The Waltons are the world’s richest family, and their Walmart has put many mom and pop grocery operations out of business forever. Yet, they have been known to hire illegal immigrants to clean the stores late at night, reduce workers’ hours to 35 hours a week so that they don’t have to pay for benefits like they would if those workers were full-time, and workers sometimes have to take welfare because they can’t make a living.
Something is wrong when the rich have been getting richer and income inequality is a serious thing, and yet there is like no way that the minimum wage worker can afford to live in a 1-bedroom apartment in any medium-sized or major city.
So not only does capitalism seem to be broken (take all these examples, and more, of how the system is pretty much rigged in favor of the wealth and the powerful), but perhaps the “American Dream” is too. I hear that once upon a time a person could work in manufacturing and support a small family, but those days are long gone. Many good jobs have been going to China and Mexico, and corporations certainly don’t have your back. Corporations are a huge problem; I don’t know how they went from being fairly obscure to absolutely dominating everything. There is more to life than the profit motive! My older brother pointed out that the movie Wall Street had the line “Greed is good,” and that is sick. The movie Wall Street II pointed out that “Money never sleeps” and I think that is devastatingly accurate. I just don’t see myself as being as motivated by profit and “success” as prior generations.
So, ya, not only does America’s version of capitalism seem to be corrupt and dysfunctional, but those with political power and media dominance would have us believe that “socialism is bad.” In fact, many of those countries in Europe have much higher standards of living and life satisfaction than everyone that I know does, and New Zealand and Iceland have very low levels of political corruption. Many of the social democracies have high standards of living, good education, good healthcare, and good voter participation. Something seems to have gone totally wrong with America’s economic system, though.
I have been very suspicious of capitalism ever since I saw how difficult the 2008 financial crisis was on my parents; my dad got laid off and his pension went up in smoke. He was suicidal until we got him to start taking medications for depression, actually. There was a huge rush to bail out the Wall Street tycoons and mega-financial-institutions, and nothing like that was ever done for the homeowners who lost their homes to rapacious and unethical banks like Wells Fargo. The rich have been getting incredibly richer since that unforced error in 2008, and wages have been mostly going nowhere in the last three decades. So no, I don’t see capitalism as some kind of holy and fantastic system. I have $50,000 in student loans and make too much to qualify for health care subsidies, and live in New York so I don’t feel financially secure at all.
Finally, I think that the criminal justice system is completely fucked up, and it’s obvious that Donald Trump is a racist. It’s pretty clear that the Senate ran a fake trial to avoid him having to face the music on his trying to cheat in the 2020 election, so there is no way I would vote Republican in 2020. It is shocking to see the stuff that politicians try to pull, and the supporters of Trump boggle my mind. We seem so divided in this country and I hear it wasn’t always that way.
So these are some of my views. I think at bottom what is clear to me is that it’s a new era. Frankly, the generations that are aged 30-50 and 50-70 don’t deserve to have a monopoly on power in this country. They fucked a lot of shit up, to put it bluntly.
The ability of our economic system to ensure folks live a decent life if they work hard? Nope.
Preventing consumerism and industries from ruining the planet? Negative.
Successfully deal with immigration, make health care more affordable, and keep the debt from growing to levels that could hamper America’s economy? No, no, and no.
So, you “Boomers” have had ample time to get things right and make America better for the next generation. Well, I’m in the next generation, and I don’t think the world I am inheriting is satisfactory. Step aside and let the young folks with their more progressive political values and different lifestyles and new attitudes have a shot at it.
Relax — we can hardly do any worse than you guys have. Ω
ARTICLE SUGGESTION: What Hope for the Millennial Generation in Politics?
BLOG SUGGESTION: Only Fools Vote Against Their Best Interests