Thought Catalog
June 19, 2017

Millennials Are Going To Become The First Generation To Learn From History

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What is the issue?
Unsplash / Jerry Kiesewetter

In a world where we are referred to as the lazy, overly sensitive, unmotivated, rude, and entitled generation – I could continue with the slew of insults I’ve heard hurled by my elders, but I stopped here in the interest of space – we stand to suffer from the mistakes of our forebears, who flat-out refuse to learn from the past. All this, while they continue to “lead” our country into the depths of failed societies.

“We have had tremendous success, but we don’t talk about it.” – Donald Trump April 23, 2017 or…

An unlucky in love adult home for the holidays making up a significant other to ward off unwelcome questions from the family: “She exists! I just can’t show you.”

Donald Trump is a problem. As if that is supposed to surprise anyone.

Trump is, however, but a symptom of our country’s disease. Perhaps for as long as we have been a union, the vast majority of American citizens, and, even more problematically, the vast majority of our country’s leaders have taken ill: they have refused to learn from the past.

With blinders on, our leaders have, and still are, leading this country into a dark age. With zero respect given to past mistakes and experiences, we stand at a crossroads: either continue down the current, muddled path to literal implosion a la the tragedy of the Manhattan Project, or hand the ropes over to someone who will actually show respect to the past.

This person will be one to combine the lessons from the past with innovation, today’s technology, and the modern human experience.

This person can save us from the tired old men and women who refuse to part from the status quo, which has caused only grief.

This person will compromise and negotiate. This person is a millennial.

I do not know who exactly it is, but dear God I hope they realize it themselves soon.

If you haven’t noticed, Congress has a very hard time passing laws these days (though isn’t it supposed to be difficult to create laws because of that slightly important document, the Constitution? – a topic for a different day.)

A little background: there are 435 House members and 100 members in the Senate. To get a bill to pass in the House, you need 218 out of 435 votes. Once a bill passes in the House, it needs to pass in the Senate with 51 out of 100 votes before making it to the president’s desk.

Currently, the Senate consists of 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 Independents who vote in the Democratic caucus. In the House there are 239 Republicans, 193 Democrats, and 3 vacancies. These numbers do not constitute a supermajority for the Republicans.

Thankfully and as was the intention at conception of the Constitution, this means Congress relies on a level of compromise. Well, wait. That compromising seems to be pretty hard for our politicians. Not for lack of trying.

In March, Speaker Paul Ryan said he “worried we’ll [Republicans] push the president into, um, working with the Democrats.”

For a split second, when Ryan said ‘um’ on CBS ‘This Morning’, I thought he might not continue saying what I thought he was saying. No luck.

The man who speaks for the United States House of Representatives more or less said he fears compromise.

In a republican, two-party form of government, the Speaker of the House said he was worried the president would do what the writers of the United States Constitution intended.

Trump was very clearly not elected with a mandate to do anything. As the Federal Election Commission reported to us, Trump got 46.1% of the popular vote… compared to Clinton’s 48.2%.

What Ryan should fear, and I know I certainly do, is allowing a president, no matter who he is, and his cronies to take over when 65.8 million Americans preferred the other candidate.

Trump is just a cog in this machine: he came to power as a result of the epidemic of lack of cooperation in American government.

When nothing gets done, citizens get angry. They look for radical solutions when nothing else has worked: enter Trump. And, once in power, he warmed to the idea of executive orders.

The problem with executive orders is that they flagrantly fly in the face of Article I, allowing one person (POTUS) to single-handedly both make and enforce the laws; this not only does not require the bicameral approval of the House and Senate, but it concentrates lawmaking and enforcement in one branch of government.

No one would disagree, however, that there have been some pretty great executive orders; Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is perhaps the most visible.

On the other end are those executive orders that have become a black mark on the history of the United States, such as the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor.

I’ll leave it to you to decide which category Trump’s January 27, 2017 executive order banning immigrants from 7 Muslim countries falls under.

So, we have a lack of cooperation, which has led to the election of an inexperienced, egomaniacal businessman.

The fear of compromise has paved the way for a flurry of executive orders, the premise of which is already in murky constitutional waters.

The last time the government was this afraid of compromise and cooperation, we faced the budgetary deadlock and government shutdown in Fall of 2013.

OMB’s report after the shutdown highlights all of the negative effects, some of the most damning are as follows:

– $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed

– Federal employees were furloughed for a total of 6.6 million days, resulting in a payroll cost of $2 billion

– 120,000 fewer private sector jobs were created during the first couple weeks of October

– National Park Service estimated $500 million in lost visitor spending to national parks and monuments

One would think that this would encourage the government to continue to work together to avoid another disaster such as this.

But, as we have seen, politicians have time and time again shown a refusal to honor the past.

Even in 1977, after stepping down post-Watergate, Richard Nixon proclaimed, “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Right. How about Dana Perino admitting she had never heard of the Cuban missile crisis? In 2007, the White House Press Secretary said it probably had something to do with “Cuba and missiles.”

For the uninformed, the Cuban missile crisis was a confrontation during the Cold War that very nearly led to nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. That’s not important today, though. North Korea is not threatening at all.

So, who will heed the past? Who will invite compromise? Who will work to honor this country’s founders? Up until this point, our major political power players have failed to do so.

My generation, the millennial generation, has the capability to be these people. We are time and time again criticized for being “lazy” because we refuse to fall into jobs that we are miserable at.

I myself have been told I was offered a job because I was a young, attractive female (thanks for the compliment, though, random Gen X Nebraskan in South Africa who said that because he was intimidated by me.)

I studied for 4-6 hours every night throughout High School between SATs and AP classes, and I know I was not the only millennial to do this, not even close.

I also know that work ethic didn’t stop when I was 18, as is the case for many of my cohorts.

We work hard, we are sensitive to the human condition, we are inventive, we are technologically-savvy, we care about the future of this country.

Why else would we pay into Social Security when ‘security’ is the last thing we feel?

Please. I write this as a request to all of my fellow millennials: we must be the generation to heed the past and save this country.

If we wait any longer, we may miss our chance. TC mark

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