By Robert Rector
Millennials. You’ve probably heard of them. You may be one of them. But for purposes of introduction:
They are members of a generation ranging in age between 22 and 37. Collectively and individually, they are regarded by many as entitled, narcissistic, technology addicted, lazy, materialistic, irresponsible and politically dispassionate.
There’s more but you catch the drift.
There are more than 70 million of them, all living in their parent’s basement, if we are to believe the buzz.
Of course, Americans are fond of attaching labels punctuated with withering criticism to younger generations. Call it the “these kids nowadays” syndrome.
There was the Silent Generation, Generation X, Generation Y and soon appearing in a neighborhood near you, Generation Z.
I suspect these names were invented by people who, like blind men describing an elephant, are not sure what to make of it all. Ultimately, uncertainty begets the fear that these whipper snappers are surely leading us all to hell in a handbasket.
We had better hope that none of this is true.
Because millennials will soon constitute the largest voting bloc in the United States, according to the Brookings Institute. And, as such, they will decide the direction of this country for decades forward.
That future includes President Donald Trump, a man who shames an office once occupied by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, and his enablers. He has brought to the White House of record of egomaniacal and eccentric behavior. Add to that brew dishonesty, paranoia, bullying and a history of womanizing unseen since Elvis walked the earth.
That’s not one man’s opinion. In a letter to the New York Times, 35 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers stated that “Mr. Trump’s speech and actions make him incapable of safely serving as president.”
But here he is.
And so, millennials, in the immortal words of Paul Simon, “our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”
Are they up to the task?
A survey from Pew Research Center examining the generation gap in American politics shows that the majority of millennials are, or lean Democratic; have significant interest in the 2018 midterm elections; and overwhelmingly disapprove of President Donald Trump.
On the other hand, millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. Only about 46 percent voted in the last presidential election.
But before we write off these people as the political equivalent of the Walking Dead we should consider some mitigating circumstances.
First and foremost, many millennials stayed away from the polls in 2016 when they discovered that their fair-haired boy, Bernie Sanders, had no chance of winning a presidential election. When it came to voting, they chose pragmatism over patriotism.
Second, according to numerous studies, older voters tend to participate in larger numbers because they have a larger stake – think careers, homes, families – in the governing of our country.
Others say it simply comes down to this: Millennials have lost faith in our political system to solve their problems.
But so much for explanations and excuses. The stakes are high. The time has come for all of us to rally these troops.
I’m doing my part by starting a Take a Millennial to Lunch movement. Lure them out of mom’s basement with a promise of an organic, gluten free, vegan repast.
Explain to them in calm, non-threatening tones that a lame duck Trump presidency could be a nightmare from which they will never wake. Pat them on the head and whisper to them it’s time to grow a spine, get out of their pajamas and go about making this county their own.
Remind them of a quote from a book they may have read recently, “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot/ Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
And then in an act of inter-generational solidarity, pay the lunch tab in Bitcoins.
On the way out the door, leave them with this thought: Apathy is boring.
It just might work.
Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. His columns can be found at Robert-Rector.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter at @robertrector1.