It’s only a matter of time. The massive Millennial generation born between 1980 and 2002, is waking up, and waiting for its moment to change the political landscape of America.
Popular notions, many of them negative, have been circulating in leading newspapers and online media everywhere over the past few years. I’ve been following the discussion as well, and wrote about them in recent blogs, here and here.
Attention and controversy have followed the Millennials, ever since they emerged as the biggest population group in American history.
Unprovoked and mean jabs at the Millennials
People haven’t held back, in their assessment of this group, concluding, with little proof, that this generation has the following characteristics:
–Millennials are narcissistic, demanding, and spoiled.
–Millennials spend all of their money on frivolous things like lattes, avocados, and expensive iphones.
–Millennials are unfriendly and self-absorbed, thinking only of themselves.
–Millennials are obsessed with social media.
It’s really not surprising that they are examined, discussed, reviled, and even feared. In America alone, they now number more than 75 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers, and they continue to grow as young immigrants expand their ranks. By 2025, they will make up the majority of the workforce.
In all fairness, it’s possible that some of the above perceptions may be earned. Baby Boomer and Generation X parents have been indulgent parents, providing Millennials with an enviable level of abundance and care, possibly contributing to a feeling of entitlement.
Political changes alter the landscape
But things are different now. Young people have felt the sting of the Trump influence. They have observed members of their generation treated as political pawns (DACA) and dispensable objects (#MeToo).
Millennials who have been out in the world for a few years, have learned that they will earn less than their parents, that it’s tougher to borrow money, that home prices are exorbitant, and that pension benefits are non-existent. They have stood by as their education became less accessible, their work less fruitful, and their political rights less assured.
It might be more accurate, at this point in time, to make the following observations, as did Shama Hyder, in a 2014 article she wrote for Forbes, “Here’s What You Need to Know About Millennials”.
–Millennials aren’t narcissistic, they are only into self-expression.
–Millennials don’t have money because the generation before them has taken all of the jobs.
–Millennials are the most racially and diverse generation ever, with a huge tolerance.
–Millennials are highly skilled technologically, because they need to be.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that recent political marches have been attended by droves of young people, many of them of inter-racial descent.
Pundits are noticing their unrest, and are finally asking them what they think, first hand. Their responses may concern you, and give you pause.
It’s true—Millennials do think differently
In a new 2018 survey of racially diverse American adults, conducted by Professor Cathy J. Cohen at the University of Chicago, Millennials revealed attitudes and values that may have a profound effect on politics and the way things are run for many years to come.
A meta description of the study, published in NBC News, summarized the main points:
“The GenForward Survey is the first of its kind—a nationally representative survey of over 1,750 young adults ages 18-34 conducted bimonthly that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity influence how young adults or Millennials experience and think about the world.
The use of polls and surveys to ascertain public opinion is critical in today’s political discourse. While the focus on voter preferences between parties, candidates, and policies is vital, what is also important is knowledge and insights into the ways that increased polarization and shifts in political rhetoric have impacted young people. The best way to decipher these changes is through polls and surveys.”
Out of 18 questions, here are the responses that stand out:
Strongly Disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling job as president:
Asian Americans 47
All Adults 46
Strongly unfavorable view of the Republican party:
Asian Americans 46
All Adults 37
Did not vote in the 2016 Presidential election:
Asian Americans 37
All Adults 34
Very optimistic about personal future:
Asian Americans 15
All Adults 21
Somewhat optimistic about personal future:
Asian Americans 31
All Adults 38
These numbers are significant, and suggest that racially diverse youth are extremely dissatisfied with how events have unfolded in America since the election of President Trump. It also notes that their voting record for that election, willingly offered up, was dismal. Yet in spite of many other negative responses in the survey, they remain optimistic. This suggests a hopeful outcome for the future.
In summary, the Millennials are the most self-expressive, technologically skilled, diverse, and connected generation ever. And although previous generations may have difficulty understanding and accepting them, they are the future—they will determine what lies ahead for America, and quite likely, for the rest of us.