(’76 Contributor) There is a group in the United States that defies conventional wisdoms that were set before them. Individually, they care about social justice, but, at the same time, do not identify themselves as political. They are connected to the entire world — all at the touch of a screen. They also have massive amounts of debt, but are confident that the future will provide for everything that they want and desire. I am, of course, talking about the Millennial Generation.
Editor’s Note: Seth Taylor, a 2014 CCU graduate, makes an interesting case in this article. While I applaud his diagnosis of the responsibility deficit (as much a problem for many of my generation as for many of his) and I appreciate his favorable comments on my book, I disagree with his dismissal of natural marriage and the unborn child’s right to life. The ’76 Blog is always open to divergent opinions, however, and we welcome Mr. Taylor as our newest and youngest contributor.
The Millennial Generation seems to be an enigma to older generations, such as Generation X, Baby Boomers, etc. They do not seem to understand what Millennials are like, and, more importantly, how they think. They do not seem to understand Millennial ideologies, as well as aspirations. But, before we can dive into these categories, we need to understand a few facts about the Millennial Generation.
Being a Millennial myself, writing on this topic is like looking into a mirror and writing what I see. I am looking at my friends from throughout the years and seeing their lives and how they live it. In all actuality, these lives, and my mirrored self, are decently captured in a report by the Pew Research Center._ (If you want the actual report and not the summary, click here.) Millennials are, according to the report, “relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry—and optimistic about the future.”
That sums up what Millennials are like. We, generally speaking, are unattached to politics and religion. We are experts at social media, as well as getting into debt. We do not want to get married, probably because of our distrust in people. However, with all of that staring us in the face, we are optimistic about our future.
But, there is something peculiar about my generation. It can’t be put into a report with statistics. It cannot be measured. There is something that is missing the Millennials, and that is self-responsibility.
Not only are we social media experts, but we are experts of the self. Let me explain. The Millennial Generation is complacent and selfish. We deserve to have the government pay for us. We deserve to have every desire that we want. We are an egocentric generation, one that cares about politics only in regard of what will happen to the self. We care about individual, personal freedoms to do whatever is desired. Any disadvantage that we get is not our fault, but anything that goes our way is because of our own efforts. It is how we live; it is our greatest curse.
Now, the Democratic party has picked up on this. They understand what this generation will become—the leaders of America. We are getting to the age where we can start leading the country. Democrats knew this, and started identifying with all of our causes. Who champions gay rights? Democrats. Who is trying to legalize marijuana? Democrats. Who is trying to get people on Medicaid, and other government dependency programs, because the people deserve to have them? Democrats. Who is appealing themselves to the Millennial Generation and beyond? Democrats.
Where is the Republican party in all of this? They are being vilified in the social media. They are being turned into enemies against freedom. Soon, if not already, the Republican party will lose an entire generation to the Democrats. Then the ball will continue to roll, and the Republican party will lose power for a long time. Can this process be reversed? Yes it can.
First, there is a phrase called “Element R,” which is discussed by Centennial Institute director John Andrews in his book Responsibility Reborn, that can change everything. Element R is another, catchier way of saying personal responsibility.
What we have seen is a glimpse of the Millennial mindset. Even though it is a sliver of how the generation thinks, it can provide a beautiful bounty. Think about what the Millennial Generation wants: they want self-fulfilling dogma and legislation. They want to be filled, and they want to be provided for; they deserve it.
Element R can change that mindset of deserving something to going out and getting it. It can make big government unattractive, as something that will attack and systematically destroy the freedoms that the generation holds so dear. Millennials are all about personal freedoms—how free are they if the government tells them how much they can make, or what they can do, or hold circumstances over them for them to get their health care? If these ideas can be considered a force against personal freedoms, then Element R can fill the void, and the generation will take up the mantle again.
Secondly, and this will pain many conservatives to hear, the Republican party needs to drop the social issues. They need to compromise. Gay marriage is going to happen in this country, and nothing will stop it. Trying to stop it will actually hurt conservatives in the long run, as they will seem like bigots who didn’t want gay people to be happy. There is a separation of church and state in this country. Outside of religion, there is no legitimate reason for this debate, and the issue needs to be dropped. Other issues, such as abortion, need to be compromised on, rather than an “all or nothing” mindset. However, if Element R is in the process, these issues will be easier.
Lastly, conservatives and Republicans need to master social media—particularly Twitter and Instagram. Millennials are always connected, and always updating what they know about other people. If Conservatives master the platform that Millennials grew up on, then there will be a wave of conservative thinking that will follow.
Although this issue has more topics to discuss and more details to iron out, the process is doable. Republicans can seem like an attractive party to the Millennial generation and beyond. This is only a quick guide, from someone who lives it everyday. This is the hunted giving advice to the hunter. This is how to capture a Millennial.