Millennials are destined to be the most important voting bloc in the US, and the generation in power is ignoring them. Millennials consist of 80 million people born between 1977 and 2000, and make up 25 percent of the US population.
They have a chip on their shoulder, and with good reason. With their “I’m not going to take this” attitude, millennials view the status quo as something unfit for today’s world. Similar to how generations of the past left the farm and ventured to the city for work, this group is rejecting the corporate nine to five job. They are freelancing, working multiple part time jobs, and starting their own business ventures. Their perspectives are all based on lessons they learned growing up. They will enact big changes, with a common theme: learn from past mistakes, make the future better.
Millennials have experienced the mistakes, poor judgement, and unapologetically pathetic leadership of their predecessor’s generation. They watched as the housing bubble burst and everyone pointed their finger because it is “someone else’s fault”. Lesson one: hold those responsible accountable.
They have lived through the great recession. They watched as those “safe” corporate jobs, with salaried employees, who sacrificed tirelessly, and missed out on their kids’ (millennials) lives, lost their jobs. This has a profound influence on millennial attitudes toward the proverbially safe corporate job. The banks, the auto industry, the world financiers, and the rest of those who caused this trouble received a bailout, while the victims – those loyal to their employer, those who paid their taxes, and fought for their country – they were left to fend for themselves. Lesson two: choose one’s loyalties carefully, as no proverbial wisdom is guaranteed.
It should not be forgotten that this generation grew up during wartime, and everyday there were more war tragedies on the news. As millennials grew older and more aware, they began to questioned this war in mass numbers, and asked their parents that nagging question, “Why didn’t you question this?”. Indeed, these millennials saw the great folly of the US war in Iraq. Lesson three: avoid war at all costs.
$1,200,000,000,000 reasons why the millennials have a chip on their shoulder: this generation is drowning in student loan debt, owing a collective $1.2 trillion to their own government, and that number is increasing everyday. Politicians talk about student loan debt, but their proposed solutions are political gimmicks and offer no real relief to the most indebted generation. This is a manufactured debt crisis caused and created by the generation in power. Lesson four: education should be affordable, and lesson five: one generation should not create policies that force the indebtedness of another generation.
Bush and Obama are two charismatic baby boomer Presidents. They inspired and led America’s millennials through their childhood, teenage, and young adult years. However, their integrity is revealed as bitterly disingenuous. Because of this, it is doubtful that any future office holder will manipulate the attention of the millennials after these life lessons. Lesson six: don’t trust baby boomer politicians.
The 2020 Presidential election will stand out in history as all millennials will be able to vote. During that same election year, more than half of the 65.2 million baby boomers will be 65 or older. In 2020, over 54.8 million people will be eligible for social security benefits, 36 percent more than were eligible for benefits in 2010. These retiring individuals will no longer be paying into the system, and will be therefore competing for the same government resources that millennials will be stepping up to control. Through 2029, the rest of the baby boomer generation will enter retirement, as the rest of the millennial generation enters the workforce and takes the reins of government.
When millennials are in power, there will be a decision on who receives social security, at what age, and how much. Just like today, baby boomers decide who receives student loans and how much interest they will have to pay back. Millennials will be the largest, most powerful and influential voting bloc in American history. They have a means to communicate and spread information faster than any generation before, and will be forced to clean up the mess that baby boomers made. More importantly, millennials will implement policies that help the next generations, prepare them for success, and do not use the power of the government to straddle them with life long debt. Lesson seven: there are no politics or politicians that the millennials will choose to hold onto.
Opinion By Wes Dunser