Almost daily, there are articles trying to encapsulate a portion of whom or what a millennial is. It makes me giggle, as we approach this particular group like more unique than any other. Why?
Let’s frame out who they are first:
· Born between 1977 and 1997
· Children of the Baby Boom generation, for most part
· First generation raised mostly by Dual Income Households (both parents worked)
· First generation with massive technology expanse (Cable/Streaming, Smartphones, PC/laptops)
· Entire adult life is Post 9/11 and includes America at war in Middle East
· Experienced Stock market “Bubble burst” in 2000 and Great Recession of 2008
· Have only known an America in Debt, with rising Deficits
· Have never known an America with a strong peaceful confident America
Now let’s list some “decisions” the “Millennials” (formerly known as GenY) have made:
· Politically- No Party Loyalty, Don’t believe in it in a traditional way. Issue voter. Lean Left.
· Socially- Very enamored with ideal of Socialism, Inclusion, Sharing, Right vs. Wrong is situational.
· Educational- Part of their success, part of the limitation in a part-time, ever changing work place.
· Financially- 20% of age 26-40 live w/ parents; don’t believe in owning, non-capitalist tendencies.
· Personality- PC correct, disruptor in norms of business/traditions, autonomous social skills.
· Work ethic- unknown to poor, coddled generation, lack team interactive skills, ambition neutral.
What else helped to sculpt this generation?
The DINK’s (Double Income No Kid) eventually had kids, and they are called Millennial now. Yet the home life of a millennial child was very different than the “Leave it to Beaver” upbringing of their parent’s generation. How do you instill values when Mom & Dad aren’t around as much? How do you embed Right & Wrong when you are left to figure it out on your own?
The Baby Boom & Millennial generations actually have a lot in common. Boomers were post World War II, experienced the rise & benefit of the manufacturing revolution, the 60’s social discourse & disarray, the 70’s rebellion, & the economic benefit of the 1980’s starting with Reagan & beyond to become the richest generation ever. Millennial’s are post Cold War, experienced the rise & benefit of the technology revolution, social impact of a 9/11 moment and subsequent life with terrorism, disruptor status in the new millennia, & potentially are in the cat bird seat to benefit most by a Trump economic boom of 3+% growth, wage inflation, & real full time American job creation (and stand to inherit the Boomers wealth at some point as well). The question for Millennials if Trump does pull off a success story of growth & real job creation be- “Will they change their cultural fabric, as their parents did in dropping the save the world hippy status, to become YUPPIEs (young upwardly-mobile professionals) in this new Century”?
Religion is another issue all together, but one that bears watching as it will direct the future moral landscape of our Nation for the next generation. People 50 years old or more, believed in God, Right and Wrong, & the top religion was mainline Protestant followed by Jewish. Under 50, Hindu #1 and Muslim #2 will tell you how much America has changed generationally. Also, if under 30, Muslim is by far the most increasing trend among religions of choice followed by unaffiliated/none as a belief of choice.
Who speaks to them and catches their ear with a path to a better America? Absolutely no one.
President Obama did fleetingly, and Bernie Sanders has ideas that appeal to them, but no one truly has grabbed their attention and held it as a political leader yet. When someone does, that person will truly be a constructive force in the future of our nation. If I could suggest a “Contract with America” platform that would appeal & resonate to the typical person of this ‘Millennial’ generation, it would look like this:
MILLENNIAL “CONTRACT WITH AMERICA”
1. Reform Education, so We can Compete
2. Reform Cost of College, so We Can Afford It
3. Pass Pro-Growth Policies, so We Can Have Real Jobs
4. Reduce Regulations, so We Can Innovate/Disrupt/Start a Business
5. Repeal/Replace Obamacare, so Real Full Time Jobs Increase/Costs Drop
6. Balance Federal Budget Always, so Our Debt Doesn’t Get Higher
7. Reform Entitlements, so We Know What to Expect & Can Plan For It
8. Plan to Reduce the $20T National Debt, so We Aren’t Burdened in Debt
9. Improve National Security, so We Can Live in Peace & Safety
10. Reform Inner-City, so We All Have Less Crime/More Jobs/Better Lives
This isn’t a perfect or complete list, but covers the big points of the Millennial needs & desires. And to be quite frank, they aren’t that different from the rest of us. They are (without question) the next most influential generation to hit us since the baby boomers. They have personal hopes & dreams, most of which can’t be realized yet as they await that real full time job opportunity or the security to embrace the family concept of marriage & kids.
Millennials are the future, so the leadership of today needs to address some of these core challenges in enacting any legislation that impacts tomorrow (think Tax Reform or Healthcare). Although they aren’t party affiliated and can be like herding cats when it comes to political consistency, this PC-correct inclusive-oriented socialist-liking people don’t want to be left out in the cold.
Millennials just want a better world, and to have their chance to pursue happiness. The question that still needs to be answered is who will open that door of opportunity for this next generation. Bernie Sanders connected with a pledge for free college, more entitlements, & his socialized platform he couldn’t pay for. Barack Obama connected with his charm, tone, & speaking ability. Donald Trump has resonated indirectly with his energetic contemporary twitter feed, but distances them with his directness which is perceived as non-inclusionary & mean spirited for the most part.
Structure & change aren’t bad things, nor are they mutually exclusive. “Why” we change any structural make up to government’s direction or policy shifts, & how it benefits us all, is the deciding quality that the Millennial generation will want explained prior to embracing.
But like it or not, Millennials are the future- so understanding them, positioning them to succeed, and channeling their passion into advancement will dictate the future of America. Where, exactly, will the Millennials take this country is the million dollar open-ended question. What say YOU?