And so the scapegoating of millennials continues.
The act of electing Donald Trump to the highest seat in the land has already been parsed by the punditry in a myriad of ways, with blame being leveled at almost any and every demographic available, from racist old white men to middle class moms to Republican-voting Latinos to, you guessed it, millennials. Those slouching and gadget-focused kids, the ones with zero interest in hard work and a deep sense of entitlement, right?
Results have shown that while a millennial-only election would have elected Hillary Clinton by a wide margin, support for the Democratic candidate was not as robust as expected. According to one exit poll analysis, of the 24 million people under 30 who voted, 55 per cent voted Democrat, a five per cent drop from four years ago when 60 per cent of under-30s voted for President Obama. What’s almost a bad, only about 50 per cent of eligible millennials actually cast ballots, which puts them well below the national average of 58 per cent. Had the cohort come out in greater numbers in swing states like Florida and North Carolina – and had they not voted in droves for third party candidates like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson – we all might have woken up to a different cup of Joe.
Of the prevailing accusations the one that stands out is that unlike previous generations, millennials lack political focus. “Young voters supported Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates more than any other age group did,” says Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) in a post-election synopsis. “However, they are a heterogeneous generation, and their choices differed greatly depending on their own race, their state, and other factors.”
Of course, this trait of being all over the political map is also hung around the necks of millennials when it comes to work and employment, where a lack of loyalty to the company has been a mainstay critique for years. The “side hustle” has been tagged as part and parcel of millennial work culture, where everyone is making moves to ditch their current job and move onto something new, onto whatever next can keep their increasingly fickle interest.
Or so the story goes.
“Every generation seems to think that those who come after are broken in some way: that they are disrespectful, lazy or aimless,” says freelance writer and adjunct professor of history at Queen’s University Christo Aivalis in lefty stalwart publication, the Canadian Dimension. Aivalis argues that millennials appearing listless and fickle are just responding to an environment where all employment is precarious and many are scrambling to keep up with their student loan payments.
“We brand this generation as entitled, even as they are left with little of the entitlements many Canadians have enjoyed since the Second World War,” says Aivalis, who claims that the current Liberal government is breaking its promise to young Canadians to create more stability in the workforce.
Instead, through measures such as Bill C-27, called an anti-pension “betrayal” by Canada’s unions, the Liberals are effectively telling millennials to accept a status quo where solid career jobs are increasingly scarce and employers aren’t encouraged to provide training to new hires.
“Most young people don’t expect six-figure salaries out the gate,” says Aivalis, “[They’re] concerned about how universities are increasingly used to replace on-the-job training, how unpaid labour is seen as the entry point into some job markets.”
Of course, it’s a lot easier to put the blame on the younger generation than to fix society’s ills. But it’s high time that we quit with the former and get to work on the latter.