As a Christian, the Republicans assume they can win my vote; as a Latina woman, granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, the Democrats think they can count on me. They are both wrong.
Like so many of my generation, I am living evidence that the red-vs-blue portrait is severely distorted. I see a technicolor, complex and challenging reality and neither party’s monochromatic platform has won me over.
Smackdab in the center of the millennial generation, born in the early 90’s, I live a life much like many of my peers – a life of multitasking, technology, self-expression and open-mindedness. When it comes to political and civic engagement, however, we millennials often opt for community service and Silicon Valley over D.C. and traditional left-right politics.
Our lives have been lived in the shadow of political breakdown – the “check engine” light has been flashing all 23 years of my life. We have seen and heard the ugly squabbles, we were raised and bred off the tribalism of Republicans and Democrats alike, we have learned to tune it out, to disengage. Clinton, Bush and Obama – each failed us in their own way and frankly we aren’t about to buy into another “savior” politician for 2016.
To be honest, I feel commodified by the two-party system. When election roll around both parties try to swoon me into choosing their side, and yet, day after day politicians make decisions directly in contrast to my best interest. Here’s why.
- Making life harder today: Generally speaking, despite more education than generations past, we are earning less. By in large my generation values rich experiences and authenticity more than material wealth – yet, the thin paychecks and the experts’ predictions make us uneasy. We get nervous when we read headlines such as: “A big pay cut for the best-educated generation,” we supplement our income with Uber, barista jobs or Airbnb just to make due. Seven out of ten of us graduate college with student debt burdens. Topping one trillion dollars, student debt in the U.S. amounts to more than credit card debt and auto loans, it is second only to mortgages. We feel like we are getting the short end of the stick because, well, we are.
- Forfeiting fiscal freedom for the future: in Dead Men Ruling author C. Eugene Steuerle illuminates a dismal reality – if things do not change, my generation will inherit a stiff system and lose fiscal freedom. Our predecessors, in their partisan warfare, are fighting to fix politics: “The two parties define themselves by past achievements — New Deal and Great Society programs for Democrats, low tax rates (and various tax breaks) for Republicans — and then fight uncompromisingly to perpetuate them.” Steuerle’s conclusions are frightening – without long-term fiscal sustainability our generation will inherit a very inflexible, frozen fiscal situation.
- (expanding) National Debt and (shrinking) Social Security: I won’t call our parents and grandparents greedy and thoughtless but Mark Levin will – “The nation’s fiscal operating debt was already $10.6 trillion on the day President Barak Obama took office… Each man, woman, and child in this country’s share of the national debt has grown from $33,220 at the beginning of the Obama presidency to more than $56,900 today. To be sure, the debt habit began long before the Obama presidency, but it is now a full-blown addiction.” In Plunder and Deceit Levin pulls no punches, he says it like it is – the current federal government has shamelessly stolen future prosperity. This rising debt won’t die with the generations that permitted it – “only 45% [of millennials] expect to receive Social Security benefits during retirement (compared with 68 percent of baby boomers).” What a mess!
Clearly the habits of hyperpartisan government have serious consequences – some felt and some soon to be felt. For these reasons and many more the millennial generation is rewriting a political code – a code of respect, inclusivity and civility. As a generation we are crying out for more innovative, entrepreneurial politics, a new way of doing democracy in 21st century America. We are tired of the attack ads (by the way, most of us don’t even watch cable anymore!). We are frustrated with the stale and immature games of our representatives. We are ready for a fresh perspective and a new narrative. I know some think that we are lazy and egocentric but, I beg your pardon, we are actively at work (across old partisan boundaries) bringing about the change we want to see in the world – check it out:
 Mark Levin – Plunder and Deceit