Millennials (ages 19 to 34) have overtaken baby boomers ( persons 52 to 70) as the largest (not necessarily “Greatest Generation”) in America. That’s according to Census data and a report by the Pew Research Center, so it must be true. The thing is, it that a good thing? What does it mean? Where are things — from your country to your job — heading? We put the question to Steve Hellem, a communications executive in Washington. He said he’d do a guest column on the subject while I’m taking a short (too short) vacation. Here’s what he — and his nephew — think about the population shift. He calls it: “Young millennials in government are probably thinking this way too.” Here goes:
“When I was asked to write a guest column for Mike Causey, my first thought was to talk to a couple of folks about what they were thinking. So, first I went to a very smart nephew, who is his mid-20s, and asked him to give me his thoughts about the election and what it means for young people, many of which may be in their first job, that just happens to be in the federal government.
“Here is what my nephew sent me and I think it is a message that should be heard on multiple levels.
“’Do these people realize that they’re screwing over an entire generation? Can’t they just leave already? Let us fix it. Why are they so stubborn? Is 20 seconds on CNN really more valuable today than doing what’s right?
“‘This is scary.
“’America doesn’t think my life matters.
“‘These are just some of the things I’ve heard friends say in the weeks leading up to and following the election. There is a deep seated angst pervading our nation’s people right now, nowhere more than in our young. Much of the fear I’ve come across supersedes ideology. Policy disagreements are easy for my generation — we talk, we argue, we fight, we yell, we talk, we go out for a drink or five, we yell a little more, we figure it out, then we move on to the next thing.
“‘But today’s climate isn’t about policy disagreements; it’s much more than that.
“‘One of the things I figured out on the morning of Nov. 8 was that the values I was raised upon don’t seem to be necessarily shared by the majority of the electorate who participated in the election the day before. I was raised to live life with compassion for all, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and to strive for education and thoughtfulness. I was raised on faith and hope; but this whole election felt bitter and spiteful.
“‘When I talk to young people about issues that reflect those values — Syrian refugees, the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, police brutality, housing discrimination, etc. — by and large I don’t see a cultural divide. Sure we disagree on the best way to get people health care, but we tend to agree that there exists a greater responsibility to do good for others and for the world.
“‘Unfortunately, it seems that many of the people that raised us have forgotten the morals they claim to be most high. Our leaders are more focused on being right, instead of doing what is right. Superiority has trumped collaboration, power has trumped the desire for understanding and winning has trumped unity.
“‘People like to say that my generation is entitled. Apparently we think we’re too smart for our own good, we don’t like to work hard, and we don’t like to listen. A lot of that can be true. We’re also about getting things done, moving forward and creating real and lasting progress. We may not know what it was like when our parents walked to school across town in 12 feet of snow, but we know what it is like to be curious about solving problems, having a world of information at our fingertips, then immediately attacking the problem in a creative search for a solution.
“‘The values and views of tomorrow’s generation are disregarded by the old white men that lead us. Sometimes it’s our own doing: we’re too lazy to do our research, then go out and vote. Other times it’s because we’re too poor to donate enough money to their campaigns for them to really pay attention. And other times its because we lack the opportunity to receive an education. This leads to a couple different groups. Some get angry and active, some disengage.
“‘Many youth will protest in hopes of putting the pieces of government back together. Others will do their best to ignore government, seeing it for what it is: broken.
“‘President-elect Donald Trump was right about one thing: we need change in Washington. The days of the old, rich, white man is done. They’ve had their chance to be in charge of everything. We’re tired of it.
“‘The information age has brought about a rapid change to the world. We’ve grown exponentially in capabilities and understanding. It’s time to bring that mode of thought, that desire for innovation, and that love of learning and pushing the boundaries to Washington.'”