When the seminal rock group Led Zeppelin burst onto the scene with their debut album in 1969, they brought something completely different to the world of music. It was wild, raw, and sometimes angry, just like the generation that embraced it whole-heartedly. One of the notable songs from that release was a pain-filled paean to karma: ” Your Time Is Gonna Come.” Although ostensibly focussed on infidelity, the song, clearly, was rooted in the notion that what goes around, comes around.
And so it is with some irony that I suggest, that such an anthem for geezers of the boomer generation, is now an apt battle hymn for the millennials of this generation who believe that the oppressed, have now become the oppressors. Perhaps no generation in history displayed its discontent with the status quo as loudly, or in a more demanding fashion than the flower-power children who occupied University administration offices across North America, and chanted things like, ” Hell No! We won’t Go! “, regardless of whether they were ‘going’, or not. But that was a long time ago. Now the hippies who had long hair, and burned their bras, have become balding old men with comb-overs, and women who sag, regardless of underwire support. But one vestige of that restless generation has now come home to roost in the new millennium, and that, is anger.
Although millennials are seldom seen marching in the streets, confronting lines of riot police, or spreading out their sleeping bags in front of the Dean’s Office, they are very busy in perhaps a far more productive manner. The age demographic that at one time could be ignored by every politician, because they didn’t vote, have now demonstrated quite convincingly, that their clout at the ballot box is packing a more powerful punch than ever before. Just ask Hillary Clinton. The Democratic nominee has struggled mightily to court the cohort that helped make Barack Obama America’s first black President: hoping that it might also help her to become the first woman to occupy the oval office. Instead, millennials have all but rejected that bid, favouring far more heavily an unlikely hero: Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, on the surface is everything that you might think these young voters would reject. He is white. He is male. He is older than Clinton, their parents, and some of their grandparents as well. But despite his chronology, Senator Sanders had one thing that Mrs. Clinton did not, and that, was an agenda for radical change. The Millennials aren’t interested in your grandfather’s candidate — or even your father’s. They want the candidate that will bury the old world order, for good. They see politics in general, as a crooked carnival barker’s game. It’s fixed, and not in their favour. The evidence is all around them. The boomers cling to the unpopular notion that the economy trumps the environment. They continue to horde good jobs, and leave the younger generation to pay their massive student debts accrued from a broken educational system, with menial part-time work as barristas, and burger-flippers. They are wired and connected, and efficient in ways that boomers never dreamed of and can’t comprehend, even when they’re shown how cell phones, SnapChat and Airbnb, really work.
Their facility with technology is making school less relevant, and less engaging with every passing year, as the system is far too bloated, entrenched, and slow, to keep up with their own, self-discovered methods of communication and learning. And let’s not even talk about how ridiculously expensive these ossified institutions have become.
Although Bernie Sanders didn’t win the nomination, millennial support for his promises of free education, universal health care, and a crack-down on greed in the financial sector, were enough to keep him in the race far longer than anyone believed possible, only twelve months ago. Even with Hillary now comfortably ensconced as the presumptive nominee, the Democratic party establishment is panicking over the possibility that rather than vote for the same-old-same-old in Mrs. Clinton, millennials may instead decide to flock to the other anti-establishment candidate, Donald Trump, in what would likely be a disastrous bid to topple the status quo. Even if such a worst-case scenario never comes to pass, there is another, more sobering development beginning to take root in various democratic nations around the globe.
The most obvious manifestation is the clamour in Britain, over just who may vote in the upcoming “Brexit” referendum. The House of Lords boldly suggested that 16 and 17 year old British citizens would be the ones most directly and deeply affected by the consequences of a possible exit from the European Union, and therefore, should be allowed to vote in the referendum. That suggestion was rejected by the House of Commons on the somewhat dubious declaration that it would be too expensive to make such a change at this late stage of the debate. A decision that must have been a stinging insult to Scottish teens, who’d had the opportunity to vote on the issue of Scottish independence from Britain, less than a year ago. But stemming from that Parliamentary argument, came another; from a somewhat unlikely source. Jeremy Paxman, a columnist from the influential Financial Times, penned a column offering a more radical solution:
” Why should those who no longer make a contribution to the state be allowed a disproportionate role in choosing governments, which forces others to pay the taxes to keep old people in the style to which they feel entitled? The solution is not to lower the voting age but to cap it.” http://goo.gl/5KK26S
Rather than allowing young teens to vote, why not ban the elderly from the ballot box?
As radical the notion may seem, Paxman is certainly not the only voice whispering such heresy in public places. Gareth Morgan, a philanthropist, economist, and columnist in New Zealand said more or less the same thing, in a post on his blog more than a year ago.
” We know older people are more resistant to change, which in itself makes them a drag on the ability of a nation to adapt to changed circumstances, and prioritise long-term issues, over short-term convenience. My generation has proved this. For years we’ve been using the government to feather our own nest. Just think NZ Super, ( A universal pension and investment fund ) the health system, and tax-free wealth creation via a property bubble.” http://goo.gl/hj98Es
There was also similar talk in Bermuda, where the issue of Independence raised a question similar to the Brexit fight. Why should old people be allowed to determine the future of the young, when they won’t live long enough to see the consequences of their choices?
The notion is also beginning to gain traction here in North America, where there have been lively debates on websites such as Reddit, and KOS, and an editorial in the Texas State University Star in March of this year entitled, “Why People Over the Age of 65 Should Not Be Allowed to Vote.” In it, student-author Shannon Davies somewhat indelicately states:
” … folks of the past vote for someone who will still be in charge of our country long after they have kicked the bucket. … Millennials, regardless of their views, are more inclined to respect each other and those values of the people that assisted in giving us life. The same cannot be said about grandparents and their friends regarding the values of younger generations. ” https://goo.gl/Wrjeva
While the temptation to challenge Davies on her rather broad assumptions may be great, the point here is that students on University campuses are already thinking about changing the rules of the game. In sheer numbers, Millennials outnumber the Baby Boom generation in the United States, and this will be the last election in which Boomers will wield the heaviest truncheon upon the electoral college. For too long, the needs and desires of the younger generation have been ignored, or trampled by a stampede of walkers and grey hair. As a generation, boomers have been unfaithful to those to whom their future is wedded, and now our jilted partners are eagerly awaiting a cosmic redress. Just like Robert Plant’s anguished lament of the wounded lover 47 years ago, the words tell the story of what’s in store for the profligate, self-serving generation that has had its way for nearly half a century:
” You’ve been bad to me woman, but it’s coming back home to you. Your time is gonna come! “No feed items found.