A Venn diagram of baby boomers and millennials would probably reveal that they’re both idealistic problem-solvers who care about their neighbors and friends. They both enjoy smartphones, Jimmy Fallon, and "Star Wars" reboots. But, if current concerns around the 2016 election show us anything, it’s that the similarities end there.
Many US millennials, especially the younger ones, are still undecided. However, most aren't undecided about the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Instead undecided millennials are stuck on the question of whether to vote for a third-party candidate, or not to vote at all.
They’re skeptical that Trump or Clinton, or any establishment baby-boomer politician, understands the realities of being a young person in 2016.
“[Baby boomers] don't realize how lucky they were in terms of opportunities, and instead they see their beliefs as recipes for success,” says Jose Negrete Jr., 31. “For example, if a baby boomer went to college their life was practically secured. Now you have to be a little bit more clever in your planning.”
“They've been getting warnings about global warming, excuse me ‘climate change,’ for 30 years and did nothing,” says Jess Neikirk, 29. “They watched inflation go up firsthand, and then they don't understand why we have to work full time while going to college. They stood by and said ‘sure, reasonable enough,’ while some of us accrue hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.”
Negrete and Neikirk wrote these comments on The UnConvention Facebook group page, which is comprised of 250 millennials from around the world who are helping PRI, 92Y, and Mic to understand and amplify the voices of millennials in this election.
The irony is that no recent generation has been as wildly criticized as millennials. People between the ages of 18 to 34 are often considered arrogant, self-absorbed and allergic to hard to work.
Victoria Farmer, 30, a PRI employee who is part of the group, points out that millennials seem to be something of a scapegoat for the bad decisions of previous generations. “I just feel like our generation gets blamed for so much, but we didn't raise ourselves,” she writes. “We took the participation trophies, but the boomers handed them out, you know?”
Farmer and other millennials say having this discussion is about understanding and fairness, not blame. Blame does little to solve problems. As the millennial generation outstrips the boomer generation in size, it is also growing in wisdom and the ability to be self-critical. And young adults know that solutions are what’s needed, which may explain why they are turning to new voices in the political landscape, of any age.
“I think part of the challenge is that baby boomers are such a large generation and, while not monolithic, their decisions have had far-sweeping effects for good and ill,” writes Gillian Streeter, 32. “I think we do need to discuss this and at the same time be willing to do introspection ourselves. Just as boomers are not perfect and their decisions have had their flaws, we are not monolithic either.”
Join us for a week of The UnConvention events in New York City from October 17-21, exploring the issues and views of millennials, in partnership with 92Y and Mic.