Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Kids Are Alright

One of the things that has been so very annoying and not just lately is the desire to dump on the young folks.  That millennials and especially college students are somehow flawed and even, dare some say it, to blame for the rise of Trump and white nationalist politics.  It is tempting to blame the victory of Trump on those millennials who either did not turnout or who tossed their votes away to Jill Stein.  To be sure, I argued before and since that voting for Stein was a bad idea, and not just because she could be as much of a useful idiot for the Russians as Michael Flynn.  But the reality is that voting for Stein or not voting is not as problematic as voting for Trump, and who did that?

Not the young folks but the old ones.  Just as in Brexit, the people who turned out the most for an awful political stance were those nostalgic for a past that either did not exist or mostly benefited those who dominated the political system.

One thing to keep in mind is that the young folks always turn out less than the older folks--not just here and now but in other democracies and well into the past.  I haven't researched why older people turn out more, but this is one of the basics of politics, which is why public policy favors the older people bigly--medicare, social security, etc.  And this time, there were significant impediments to younger people voting--#voterfraudfraud is not just aimed at African-Americans and other minorities but also at students who tend to vote Democratic. 

Still, in the aftermath of the election, some are blaming the passion of the kids for alienating the older folks.  This is utter b.s., best explained by a friend of mine.  My personal take on this is this: shouldn't we expect the younger folks to be outraged when they see injustice?  Should they be expected to just tolerate it and walk past?  Having a kid who is a college student  has been mighty educational to me.  College Spew and I have gotten into many conversations [pre election day 2016]*, where she expresses frustration about where things are, and I come back with noting how much progress has been made.  She replies with some version of "IT'S NOT ENOUGH!!!"  Whether it is the male gaze that dominates how women are viewed in entertainment, the treatment of African-Americans today, the situation of LGBTQ, or pretty much anything else, I cannot really deny her point--that whatever progress that has been made is insufficient.

As a college professor for more than 20 years, I have always read "these kids today" stuff as garbage, whether it was about gen x kids when I started or millennials now.  The students I have met are not all of one piece [anyone generalizing about a generation of students from those at Oberlin don't understand either Oberlin or the entire generation of students], but do largely share an interest in the world, a desire to make it better (although they vary regarding both the problems they discern and the solutions they offer), and more energy than the older folks.  It has pretty much always been this way.

So, when I see this:
My response is:

* Perhaps it is not accident that I am writing this the day before College Spew returns from four months in Europe.  I have missed her a lot, but I am not looking forward to our conversations about the state of equality in Trump's America.

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