Millennials Abandoning Obama: Fickle Youth or Something Deeper?
By Anita Finlay on March 24, 2014
Millennials’ lack of trust in institutions is oddly similar to those in older generations who feel disaffected for different reasons. We’ve been playing by workplace and government rules for 30 plus years only to find that the institutions we did believe in, at least marginally, are unreliable.
Perhaps that is a good thing. Millennials can bond with Boomers over our collective distrust and learn to thrive in the situation that has been forced upon us. A greater civic involvement should not come from the cajoling of our leaders, but rather our own need for self-preservation, entrepreneurship and growth. As the Reverend Michael Beckwith once said, “be involved, not enthralled.”
This leads to point number three: Milbank posits that Millennials are fickle, but do not corporations and advertisers profit by that behavior; a preoccupation with social media and movement in packs? This is cool/now it's not. We hang out here/now we don't. You must have this product/toss it for the next gen model. This is viral/now it’s over. Look at Lady Gaga. The world could not get enough of her, now she’s so ‘ten seconds ago.’ And isn’t it profitable that this behavior bleed over to all of us? We are trained to be devouring locusts, consuming everything in our paths and seeking the next thrill.
Candidate Obama offered a thrill to many, apparently, but absent power and substance behind campaign slogans, absent food on the table, hope turns to dust. “Cool” is like a drug. David Axelrod and the Obama campaign skillfully used the cult of personality to get Obama elected. But cool is also fickle. Absent concrete action behind the “words, just words,” we were always bound for a disappointing outcome. That should not condemn the nature of Millennials but the nature of “selling and walking away.”
The question for the 80 million Millennials going forward: will they choose wisely in future and grow more suspicious of sound without action or provable record? We all share the same challenge to overcome distractions and a herd mentality that trains us to look for the next “cool” thing in favor of substance.
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