A Generation Berning

I’m a loyal Berner. I went to the county convention as his delegate. I was elected to go to state, but a health emergency prevented me from doing so. I am a liberal, a feminist, and a democratic socialist. But let’s be real here: math is not on our side here. So, Bernie might not win the Presidency, but that doesn’t mean things are going be politics as usual. This election is the first one we’ve seen where Millennial values and Millennial politics really come into play.

They say that Millennials want a lot. They want access to healthcare. They want affordable higher education and better quality compulsory education. They want housing options. They want to feel safe in their homes and their communities.  And they don’t just want these things for themselves, they want them for *everyone*. Including you, who judge them as entitled and idealistic and naive. (And in all actuality, these are things many of our parents took for granted.)

But see, millennials aren’t just college students. The oldest of us are nearing 40. We work long hours. We own businesses. We pay taxes. We may not be adults of a certain age, but we aren’t naive first year economic students, either. And in case you weren’t aware, the economy’s been much harsher on our formative years than it was on our parents’.

And the other thing is, you raised us to be good people. You took us to church and told us “judge not, lest ye be judged,” and “love thy neighbor as thyself.” You spoke of the importance of charity, and service to the poor and the sick. You spoke of forgiveness, and sacrifice, and asked us to be noble and just and kind.

Think about it: these policies have been in effect for our entire lives, and all we have ever seen them do is fail. Trickle down created obscene income inequality, and has actually decreased the quality of life in our country. Welfare and food stamp recipients are asked to live on less money now (adjusted for inflation) than they were thirty years ago, before neoliberal welfare reform. Increasing numbers of verifiable and severe mental illness are resulting in more disability, yet less help is available and there are huge barriers to obtaining disability benefits. Racism created the drug war that has utterly destroyed minority communities, and disenfranchised the African-American community of a representative voice in politics. Technology has absolutely annihlated our sense of American exceptionalism: we’re just a return bar away from seeing what life is really like in other countries- for better or for worse. For millions of people, going to college is like Russian Roulette. In one lucky chamber is a job in your field with good benefits that pays enough. The other five are loaded with barista and retail positions, unemployment, criminal insanity, and medical bankruptcy. Spin wisely, guys.

So yeah- when we say we want universal healthcare, we’re not under the impression that it’s free. What we’re saying is that we are willing to pay taxes so that everyone can go to the doctor. We are saying that we would rather spend our money on education than bombs. We are saying that it is idiotic to punish mental illness and substance addictions as a crime, and we demand our people be set free and given access to adaquate mental health and addiction services. We reject material success as quintessential proof of God’s favor and believe in protecting the planet and the vulnerable. We believe that these things are basic human rights.

We already cook actual meals and go to our kids’ sports games and dance recitals. We pay taxes and close business deals and run for office. The next generation of kids, the generation after Millennials, has been in production for the better part of the last decade. Most Millennials have already been voting for a decade or two. We aren’t all just idealistic, starry-eyed kids.

This is who we are. These are our generational values. This is how Millennials plan to govern. We want everyone to see the doctor and we want everyone to go to college or trade school and we want less war and more infrastructure. Your ideas have had their fair chance and they failed. It is time for something different.

So, yes. Bernie may not win the Presidency. But it would be foolish to write him, or his policies, or his supporters, off. In fact, anyone who wants to stay in politics should be listening very closely right now, including Hillary Clinton. Because Millennials won’t settle for the same old solutions. You’ve raised us to be smarter and more compassionate than that.

It’s officially about that time where we pass the generational torch, and Millennials have already told you what that means.

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