Millennials Are Key to Overcoming Partisanship

But while millennials may want to spark change, they still must contend with the legacies of the past.

National Journal
Stephanie Czekalinsk
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Stephanie Czekalinsk
May 21, 2014, 9:02 a.m.

The rising mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion is chan­ging in­sti­tu­tions from busi­nesses to uni­versit­ies across the coun­try. Mil­len­ni­als have ar­rived in the Halls of Con­gress as well. There, young mem­bers say it’s pos­sible that this con­fid­ent, wired gen­er­a­tion is the key to break­ing the in­tense par­tis­an­ship that has in re­cent years crippled the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and frus­trated the pub­lic.

Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard, D-Hawaii, co­chair of the Fu­ture Caucus, said there is a grow­ing prag­mat­ic un­der­cur­rent of co­oper­a­tion among the young­est con­gres­sion­al lead­ers. She and fel­low co­chair Aaron Schock, R-Ill., were the key­note speak­ers Wed­nes­day at a Na­tion­al Journ­al and At­lantic event on mil­len­ni­als in Wash­ing­ton,un­der­writ­ten by Mi­crosoft.

Al­though mem­bers of dif­fer­ent parties, Gab­bard, 33, and Schock, 32, say they find com­mon ground in a shared gen­er­a­tion­al like-minded­ness.

“We are to­geth­er in a dis­dain for the status quo — a dis­dain for pro­cesses in­stead of out­comes,” said Schock. “While we may have strong prin­cipled views that vary, we also grew up in a so­ci­ety where you don’t get everything you want.”

As they come of age, mil­len­ni­als face ser­i­ous eco­nom­ic chal­lenges and feel frus­trated with tra­di­tion­al in­sti­tu­tions and sys­tems that they be­lieve haven’t de­livered. Gab­bard, Schock, and a num­ber of pan­el­ists who par­ti­cip­ated in the event in­dic­ated that this gen­er­a­tion, with its af­fin­ity for dir­ect ac­tion and its will­ing­ness to speak its mind, is not likely to wait quietly to make sys­tems and in­sti­tu­tions — in­clud­ing Con­gress — more re­spons­ive to their needs.

“We have the op­por­tun­ity to shift the way things have been done,” said Gab­bard. “There’s a lot of ur­gency.”

Mil­len­ni­als are “not shy about be­ing em­powered,” said Rich Cooper, a vice pres­id­ent at the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, who ad­ded that, young people are de­mand­ing more ac­cess­ib­il­ity and ac­count­ab­il­ity from the in­sti­tu­tions they in­ter­act with.

“They are col­lect­ive, col­lab­or­at­ive, and co­oper­at­ive,” he said. “The silos that have di­vided gen­er­a­tions, they’re in­ter­ested in go­ing right through those: gender, race, demo­graph­ics.”

But while mil­len­ni­als may want to spark change, they still must con­tend with the legacies of the past.

“Com­ing of age in a weak eco­nomy after a re­ces­sion is bad news,” said pan­el­ist Martha Ross, a fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion. “They’ve all been hit hard. That can have im­plic­a­tions down the road.”

Too, the specter of ra­cism haunts the most ra­cially and eth­nic­ally di­verse gen­er­a­tion in Amer­ic­an his­tory. Al­though the num­ber of black and His­pan­ic young people who go to col­lege has in­creased, minor­it­ies are more likely to at­tend open-ac­cess com­munity col­leges while a ma­jor­ity of white stu­dents at­tend the most se­lect­ive schools, ac­cord­ing to a Geor­getown Uni­versity re­port.

So­cially, mil­len­ni­als are more ac­cept­ing and less ra­cially biased, but Amer­ic­an in­sti­tu­tions are still ra­cially strat­i­fied, said pan­el­ist An­drew Han­son of the Geor­getown Uni­versity Cen­ter on Edu­ca­tion and the Work­force.

Wheth­er mil­len­ni­als will be able to make the changes needed to ad­dress the big is­sues they face is yet to be seen. But be as­sured, pan­el­ists said, that the com­ing of age of the mil­li­en­ni­al gen­er­a­tion means change is com­ing fast.

“This gen­er­a­tion has a clock in their head,” said pan­el­ist Stefanie Brown James, of Vestige Strategies, a pub­lic-af­fairs firm that spe­cial­izes in reach­ing com­munit­ies of col­or, wo­men, and young people. They’re think­ing: “My life is lim­ited, and I have very little time to make a change.”

What We're Following See More »
PLANS TO CURB ITS POWER
Pruitt Confirmed As EPA Head
3 days ago
BREAKING
WOULD HAVE REPLACED FLYNN
Harward Turns Down NSC Job
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Ret. Vice Adm. Bob Harward turned down President Donald Trump's offer to be national security adviser Thursday, depriving the administration of a top candidate for a critical foreign policy post days after Trump fired Michael Flynn." Among the potential reasons: his family, his lack of assurances that he could build his own team, and that "the White House seems so chaotic."

Source:
REVERSES OBAMA RULE
House Votes to Let States Block Planned Parenthood Funds
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"The House passed a resolution Thursday re-opening the door for states to block Planned Parenthood from receiving some federal funds. The measure, which passed 230-188, would reverse a last-minute rule from the Obama administration that said conservative states can't block the women's health and abortion provider from receiving family planning dollars under the Title X program."

Source:
FORMER PROSECUTOR
Alexander Acosta to Get Nod for Labor
4 days ago
THE LATEST
12:30 PRESS CONFERENCE
New Labor Secretary Announcement Coming
4 days ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login