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Talking Bout Our Generation

Kids these days….

Oh you all know what I am going to say next. They have no respect. They have terrible music. Their taste in clothes is appalling. They have stupid hair.

Kids these days is a battle cry of the older generation and kids these days were destroying civilisation for the past 4000 years. Luckily for us, kids these days are so incompetent that they not only failed to destroy civilisation with their bad music and stupid hair but also managed to prop it up.

What can I say. Kids these days are really bad at destroying the world.

There is nothing that drives fear more than “kids these days”. 

So a variety of right wingers on facebook are talking about this Pew Center’s just-released research that shows that the Millenials are the most politically and religiously disaffected. That the millenials are unwilling to wear their heart on their sleeve and explicitly hold themselves to a political party.

And this is a bad thing because? Political parties are not football teams mate, you don’t pick a political party based on always having supported it. You decide your parties based on

1. Promises

2. Your philosophy

3. Track Record

To demand a group show absolute loyalty to the party is nonsensical. It’s frankly anti-democratic. It’s also what’s wrong with the Republicans. That they have lost touch with the common man and so instead demand loyalty rather than actually finding out what the public want and trying to deal with that. Instead their politics are bluster, Jesus and fear-mongering.

And what’s worse is that the more you are educated the more your views tend towards a liberal outlook. Which to be fair in the USA is a pretty centrist outlook since liberal is relative. The UK’s Conservatives have more in common with the Democrats than the Republicans.

What this means is that a sizeable group of people aged 18 to 35 (AKA people like me) are up for grabs, but the problem is while the Democrats aren’t really doing anything to get these people on board, the Republicans are doing practically everything to drive these groups away. The party of Old White Men and a few token minorities who know their place is no longer capable of standing up and calling on a future generation that will blindly vote for them to their own detriment.

In terms of numbers? It means that both parties have lost ground to either third party views or plain disillusionment. And the problem is this group of people is the least likely to fall for the traditional tools of American politics. Rhetoric, Mud Slinging and Jesus. The failure of Democrats to provide a real and comprehensive healthcare solution hurts them. The Right is mired in “Jesus politics”, Anti-Woman, Anti-GLBT, Anti-Environment, Pro-Gun, Pro-Large Corp politics and has very little in common with the man on the street.

And this is bad news since the Democrats have more fixable things than the Republicans who would have to burn their existing support in order to get a slice of the new pie. The Democrats have big things to fix and these things cannot really be fixed as long as Republicans oppose things on principles and force half measures, but compared to the painful metamorphosis that Republicans need to do?

Let’s just look at their fears. Most conservatives are responding to this information, not with introspection but with fear and hate for us. It’s not that we are more politically savvy. It is that we have no religion. 1 out of 3 millenials has no official major religion. And this is seen as “troubling”. Because of the capacity of religion to make you vote lock-step and think that Gay Marriage is a bigger issue than “practically everything else”. That society will crumble if we let two blokes marry. It won’t. Marriage won’t stop working in us straights if gays or blacks or mixed race or disabled people got married. None of these things affect us, if you want to make marriage work then try and inculcate a culture of honesty and respect in relationships. A lot more marriages will work out that way and if they do not, that’s a shame but it isn’t because Barry and Steve said yes to each other and signed a register.

Yet this was a major point of contention by the Republicans. It’s like worrying about the choice of music to accompany a sinking ship.

It’s not same sex marriage alone, marijuana legalisation, treatment of drug addiction as a social evil, abortions, prison reform…. all of these are seen by the right wing as horrific things. Our entire generation grew up with these things and with greater education we have not bought into the propaganda. And this is portrayed as a life without boundaries when in reality the problem is that Republicans have been the Jesus Party for so long that they fail to realise that their support is less like a political party and more like a church. That these boundaries mean something for society, never mind the widening divide between rich and poor, increased poverty and the fact that the opposition to universal healthcare among republicans effectively is the biggest cause of bankruptcy among the poor.

The understanding that the GLBT are humans who  deserve happiness, that women deserve bodily  autonomy and control over reproduction, that we need to reduce pollution and dependence on oil, that we need to educate rather than indoctrinate… these are seen as failings because so few of us have a hard moral compass and instead have to live in a world where we must explain and understand what effect our actions have. And that is terrifying to a party that has effectively created a demography that votes against it’s best interests.

And instead of the priest  lies the community organiser. The secular demagogue. And this causes fear because the mercurial nature of a savvy voter means that politicians are actually beholding to their voter base. That war hero medals and baby kissing is no longer capable of driving up votes.

So what do they do? Rather than look introspectively at the changing world, they blame us. It would be amusing if they changed the emblem of the GOP from the Elephant to the Mammoth. Atheist, Amoral and Entitled.

The least crime ridden, least drunk and most socially aware generation is Amoral. The generation that has fought most for equality is Amoral. And the generation failed by their predecessors, given  high rates of unemployment and often lumped with debts in order to progress is entitled. This is the hardest working and most progressive and least violent generation on record. And the Republicans would tar us as useless simply because we are more likely to be gay, engage in relationships not based on race and not get married before we have sex.

And at the core of this is our technology. We are the last generation who grew up in the shadow of the Mushroom cloud, but we also grew up with the greatest technological advance. We left the Cold War and entered the Age of Information. The Internet changed us, and changed us so much and so quickly that we are not just different to our fathers but alien.

So they bash that too. Oh we eschew real life.  Nonsense, facebook is not a replacement for real life. We party, we go out,  we live our lives too. What the Intenet lets us do is communicate with friends in a different way. It is like bemoaning the pen pal when the alternative is the fact that this single piece of writing will be seen by nearly 2000 of you guys who live across the planet. To bemoan the loss of the Pen Pal to a superior mode of communication is to forget that today we can have hundreds of Pen  Pals. That many of my friends online are entirely online. I have never met them. In fact outside of Ally Fogg, Guy Otten from the Manchester Humanists and Daniel Bruvoli (a reader who came to Manchester) I have had no contact with anyone who I write with that isn’t an Internet friend or a reader.

And if you think this makes me less moral or less communicative then think again? I may not be capable of going to Nepal next year due to delays in my degree making me busy during the trip but I am still raising money for ASTI. I still work and see patients for free. And there are others like me. To mock us because we take photos of ourselves is to forget that we do so because photo technology is cheap, simple and universal. It is bemoaning the universalness of technology. It’s like complaining that the art of driving is lost because every  Tom, Dick and Helen has a car.

Oh and this means we have little faith and trust in religious groups. That we are less likely to rely on religious charity and more on secular charity or request a social security net. We have no faith in the Church because many who have faith in the Church in my generation found out first hand how interested priests are in the welfare of children. Sex education growing up was a muttered warning about not closing your eyes or bending over around the good Father. And the moral people of the churches protected their priests rather than their children. No thanks, we would rather our charities be beholding to men.

And then comes the bizarre. The Millenials aren’t patriotic. Which is weird considering most soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and indeed in conflict zones across the world in the past 10 years have all been from my generation. The wars started by the previous generation were fought by mine and it was mine who died in wars that were fought for political reasons with no real benefit. In fact it is my generation that has to live with a second Vietnam. A war where we destabilised an entire nation and caused the deaths of close to a million people on a tapestry of lies. If that’s not patriotism then nothing really is.

We aren’t optimisitc, I wonder why should we be optimists? Because War and Economic Instability make for happy people. How can we be happy if our world is effectively been  screwed over by people who insist that we should be grateful to them? We are in debt and we are not guaranteed jobs any more by a generation of Right Wingers who wanted to make a quick buck while thousands of young (mainly) men have to live with the spectre of PTSD because you guys wanted to wave a flag and feel patriotic. And then you insist we should be happy?

And then the right come to the worst aspect of their argument. It is no secret that we live in a diverse society. Many people fear this because diversity is deadly (to white supremacy and the free ride of racism). Many right wingers blame the feminists and the non-white population for pushing through minority politics that detract from the mainstream.

Finally we see a tonne of “Age = Wisdom” arguments. That the generation that has the highest levels of education and the most access to information is the least educated because of our appalling ignorance of the world according to the Right Wing American. That higher levels of debt, poverty, unemployment and low levels of wealth and income will make us see their way is just bizarre. Because in the delusion of the Republican, they are the party of the poor.

Possibly because they generate so many of them.

Atheism, Progressive Values and Education, that’s why we are destroying the future.

Comments

  1. Zhana says

    This was a marvellous post, and I’m happy you shared it with us :) One nitpick – I believe the word you want to use is ‘beholden’ (obligated to, liable for, bound) rather than ‘beholding’

  2. doublereed says

    Uhh… the survey says we ARE optimistic. In fact, we’re way more optimistic than the other generations. In fact, it’s actually surprising we’re such optimists considering we also don’t believe Social Security will be in the future.

    As far as patriotism. It’s hard to be nationalistic when you engage in unjust wars and such. It’s hard to see your own country as “the good guys.”

    Oh, we’re also destroying the future because OMG SELFIES!!!

  3. smrnda says

    All said, now that I’m done with graduate school and been employed a few years (I started college early so this took longer for me, I’m just at the high end of Millenial mself) I’m old enough to see current college students or such as actually younger than me, and when I think of ‘kids these days’ I have a fairly high opinion of them and their ideas.

    In the US, a lot of ‘kids these days’ laments are just outright racism; demographic change means that our current young generation is not as white as the older generations, and this is deeply troubling to some old people here in the States, who are probably willing to tank the future since they see young people as a *them* instead of an *us.* Many resent young people deeply for not having the same prejudices that they did as well.

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