Category Archives: Millennials

Blame it on the internet

Blame it on the internet

“When the powerful condemn the medium of a marginalised messenger, it is the messenger they are truly after. Most recognise that in authoritarian regimes, the demonisation of social media is a transparent play for power. Few who see themselves as advocates for justice support the condemnation of those who use it to fight for their rights.

That is why it is startling to see social media portrayed in nearly identical rhetoric by those who claim to support social justice.”

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2013 elections show Latinos and young voters can’t be pinned down

2013 elections show Latinos and young voters can’t be pinned down

“Thus, it seems to me that last night’s elections are confirming the trends we’re seeing nationally in at least two respects: Democrats may very well have loads of success in future elections, but they cannot count on any sort of permanent support from Latino and young voters. These groups have shown a willingness to abandon President Obama and Democrats and vote like the rest of the electorate under the right circumstances, as manifested in New Jersey and Virginia in 2013.”

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Talkback: In defense of Rihanna

Talkback: In defense of Rihanna

“Second, the criticisms that young female musicians like Rihanna have been receiving about selling their sexualized image to the music industry are almost always whorephobic. It’s paternalistic and antifeminist to condemn what a woman chooses to do with her body, including the choice to engage in sex work (be it stripping or otherwise).”

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Angelos Tzortzinis’s Photos of Growing Desperation in Greece

Angelos Tzortzinis’s Photos of Growing Desperation in Greece

“With the country heading into the fifth year of economic depression, and unemployment near 60 percent for young people, greater numbers of women and men are offering their bodies for next to nothing to get any scrap of money. According to the National Center for Social Research, the number of people selling sex has surged 150 percent in the last two years.”

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The Millennial Parent

The Millennial Parent

“The children of the millennials have been born into a United States of entrenched meritocracy – what Pierre Bourdieu called “the social alchemy that turns class privilege into merit”. Success is allegedly based on competition, not background, but one must be prepared to pay to play.”

“This reliance on un- or underpaid labour is part of a broader move to a ‘privilege economy’ instead of a merit economy – where who you know and who pays your bills can be far more important than talent,”writes journalist Farai Chideya, noting that this system often locks out minorities. By charging more for a year’s college tuition than the average median income, universities ensure that poor people stay poor while debt-ridden graduates join their ranks. By requiring unpaid internships, professions such as journalism ensure positions of influence will be filled only by those who can pay for them. The cycle of privilege and privation continues.”

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We are the lamest generation!

We are the lamest generation!

“The national rate of unemployment among millennials is 13 percent. And a 2009 Yale study indicated that students who graduate during a recession should still expect to earn 10 percent less after a decade of work than they might otherwise have earned.

For all their being dismissed as entitled, millennials have to channel more and more of their resources toward succeeding in any field.”

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Millennials, it is not only money that corrupts democracy, but also the two-party system

Americans know that many of their elected officials are corrupt and compromised by money in politics, by lobbyists, and by wanting to win elections. What many don’t know, or fail to discuss is that it is our two-party system that also has a lot to do with having horrible candidates to choose from and with a gridlocked Congress. Many Americans have noticed that Congress has become not only more polarized, but also hyperpartisan. Congressmen and women are more worried about winning elections than about solving problems for their constituents. We currently have a Congress that passes hardly anything, that seems pettier, that spends most of its time campaigning and that refuses to act maturely and compromise, and this actually has a lot to do with our two-party system.

It’s not about constituents, it’s all about party advantage

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said her priority was to elect more Democrats, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said his goal was to prevent President Obama from winning reelection. Mickey Edwards states in his article “How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans”, “With the country at war and the economy in recession, our government leaders’ first thoughts have been of party advantage.” He points out that “we elect our leaders, and they then govern in a system that makes cooperation almost impossible and incivility nearly inevitable, a system in which the campaign season never ends and the struggle for party advantage trumps all other considerations.” This can be seen through the background check legislation on guns that just failed partly because of the NRA lobby and partly because the Republicans refused to give the Obama Administration a win. When 90% of Americans want legislation on background checks and don’t get it, there’s something very wrong with democracy. It shows that those in Congress care more about making the other side look bad than about their constituents. It shows how everything becomes politicized.

Poliscienceblog argues that the problem is not polarization, but hyperpartisanship. It states, “So it isn’t that the parties are too far apart to agree; they simply don’t want to.” Although Democrats and Republicans have their ideological differences, it does seem that they are becoming more ideologically pure. Think of the Tea Party members that refuse to compromise and have moved more to the right. By sticking together Tea Party members have been able to block legislation on budget deals and even executive branch nominations, and have become obstructionists all in their goal to make President Obama look like a failure.

To be hyperpartisan is to respond to incentives

Nate Silver wrote in the NY Times that members of Congress are becoming hyperpartisan and it is because they are simply responding to incentives. He writes, “Most members of the House now come from hyperpartisan districts where they face essentially no threat of losing their seat to the other party. Instead, primary challenges, especially for Republicans, may be the more serious risk.” This is why you have probably seen that politicians pander to their base, not the middle. Nate also shows that polarization has also increased. It increased around 8% from 2008-2012. He writes, “For example, a district that was 25 percentage points more Democratic than the country as a whole in 2008 was about 27 percentage points more Democratic than the national average this year.” The same went for Republican districts. Nate says one of the firmest conclusions to be drawn is that Congress is motivated first and foremost by winning elections. He states, “If individual members of Congress have little chance of losing their seats if they fail to compromise, there should be little reason to expect them to do so.”

This is not our Founding Fathers’ democracy

Mickey Edwards points out that the democracy we have today is not what the Founders intended. George Washington and other presidents warned of the dangers posed by political parties. The parties that arose after the nation was founded were factions uniting on a few major issues, not agreeing on every single one. When you go to the polls in November, the names on the ballot have been reduced to a few candidates the political parties will allow you to choose from. As Edwards states, “Americans demand a multiplicity of options in almost every other aspect of our lives. And yet we allow small bands of activists to limit our choices of people to represent us in making the nation’s laws.” So it is not only money in politics that limits democracy, but the two-party system itself also. The political parties decide who will be on the ballot, but wouldn’t it be better for Americans if they chose? Wouldn’t that also open up primaries for individuals who truly care about being civil servants instead of just for those pre-approved by the parties?

No matter our political affiliation we are all Americans

The state of Congress and of American politics is horrendous and Americans deserve better than two-parties who only want to embarrass each other and make each other look bad in order to win elections. Americans need politicians that will share ideas, share solutions to problems and who will debate and engage with those across the aisle in order to solve problems and serve their constituents. There is a need for politicians who will answer to their own consciences and who are not afraid to go against their political party when it is in the interest of their constituents. (More politicians like Elizabeth Warren please.) Jeffrey Schwarz points out that the two-party system is no longer serving the interests of Americans. It is no wonder that according to Edwards nearly 40% of voters consider themselves “independent” and that Congress has an approval rating of 15%. I agree with him that a third party is needed to reign in candidates that are out of touch with mainstream America and who are really independents.

Like Edwards, I do not want a political ‘center’ since we are at a time when we need tremendous steps forward, nor am I asking for consensus because I think as he does, that it is impossible, but I think it rational to ask for compromise and for debate. And not that fake debate they show us either, where politicians know the questions beforehand and only allow certain questions. I think it rational to want for both sides to be able to give up something for the greater good without members being thought of as traitors to their parties. Having only two parties has turned Republicans and Democrats into adversaries when really they’re on the same team. The only thing these parties seem to be doing is creating divisiveness and animosity. So Millennials let’s look critically at our two-party system and decide if this is something we should keep or change. If juvenile behavior from grown women and men, politicization of every single issue, and failure to compromise because members face no threat of losing their seats is what comes of the two-party system then I want something new.

Here is Mickey’s article again, where he gives solutions to the problem of hyperpartisanship. From creating an “open primary” system to turning over the process of redrawing congressional districts to independent nonpartisan commissions. Think about it.

-Marina Espinoza

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The Millennial generation, the most progressive generation, to have an impact on policy making by 2024

Andrew Baumann and Anna Greenberg write in their article for The Atlantic that by 2024 the growth of the millennial generation will change the political landscape and have a consequential impact on policy-making and governing. Millennials are those born between 1985 and 2004. In the 2008 election 25 million millennials voted–this was out of 48 million. By 2020 the number of millennials eligible to vote will increase to 90 million. This means that millennials will make up more than 35 percent of the electorate by 2024. Andrew and Anna write, “They hold far more progressive views on social issues. More than 60 percent support gay marriage, and they are much more supportive of legalizing marijuana, promoting racial justice, and restricting guns, among other issues.” Millennials seem to be supportive of a larger more activist government that does more to promote common good.

The Center for American Progress found that young Americans are much more progressive and liberal than previous generations. It is likely that millennials will move the country in a more progressive direction as they reach adulthood. There are some stark differences between the millennial generation and those that came before it. Millennials do not find the military as the primary way to fight terrorism and they do not feel the need to compromise civil liberties for safety. Although many would like to reform social security, they definitely want government to guarantee affordable healthcare and contraceptives. Many have progressive views on energy and climate change, while older politicians deny climate change even exists. Even across education classes millennials agree, creating consensus among many progressive ideas. They believe that the country has gone too far mixing politics and religion and are less likely to believe America is exceptional.

Although some argue that in fact millennials are self-centered and disengaged spending their time on facebook and other social media, millennials have also become very passionate about social and environmental causes and technological and medical advancement. According to civicyouth.org millennials are more engaged than previous generations, they are more involved in local politics, they dislike spin and polarized debates, and look for opportunities and solutions to public issues. Millennials feel they have a responsibility to better society, but mainly to help others. They are very optimistic about creating change through working together even though most find the political system corrupt and counter to the general welfare of Americans. Millennials want to be engaged and inspired, so politicians that fight with their opponents instead of trying to solve problems many find disenchanting. This is why the number of millennials that voted in 2012 decreased: many were disappointed with President Obama. Millennials want to be pragmatic and find common goals–they want to get past the polarization and solve problems. They want to act, instead of just discussing things. With such a dysfunctional, corrupt and immature Congress progress is not a sure thing, but we obviously have an opportunity to change things for the better and it would be extremely sad to squander it.

To hopefully increase your optimism here’s a video from The Brookings Institution on millennials.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8uOR8QoTps%5D

-Marina Espinoza

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