Today, one in three of my fellow Millennials will wake up in their parents’ home. Some of them have a job, but the vast majority are either unemployed or have dropped out of the labor force all together. Most graduated from high school and spent some time in college; a few even have advanced degrees. Of those who took out student loans, they owe an average of $26,000.
That is where the “lost generation” (as some have dubbed us) stands in 2013. In the past two presidential elections, my generation delivered victories for Democrats in the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. With hopeful and stirring rhetoric, they promised us a brighter tomorrow. Indeed, President Obama, whose own story embodies the American Dream, told graduates at the University of Michigan in 2010 that the ability to shape our own destiny is what “sets us apart” as Americans. Casting nearly 5 million more votes for President Obama over Governor Romney this past election, my generation undoubtedly delivered for Democrats. Have they delivered for us?
According to the latest Pew Research report, the number of Millennials living at home with their parents soared to a record 21.6 million, up from 18.5 million in 2007. Last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that student loan debt surpassed the 1 trillion dollar mark. With the impending implementation of the President’s healthcare plan, the number of part-time jobs has exploded at the expense of the growth of full-time jobs, and the young and healthy can expect to see our premiums rise. The newest jobs report shows that youth unemployment remains nearly double the national average, and a recent Gallup survey found that only 43.6 percent of 18-29 year-olds are employed full-time. As a result, Millennials are deferring major life decisions like marriage and home ownership at record rates.
Rather than answering my earlier question with a resounding, partisan “no,” let me offer an alternative. I do not believe that the president and Democrats want to see my generation fail, but I do believe they have taken advantage of us. They used us to fund a costly healthcare plan by demanding higher premiums of young adults and by monopolizing the student loan industry. They mortgaged away our future to spend more now while adding to our share of the national debt. They also have failed to address broken entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, which are kept afloat by contributions from younger generations, but will be insolvent by the time we reach retirement age.
But the president and Democrats have not failed us because they are Democrats; rather, their policies have not worked for our generation because their ideas are old. They rely on top-down, artificial policies from the industrial past, rather than adapting the needs of a modern society with organic, bottom-up solutions. The success stories from our generation have unquestionably followed the latter. Whether it is the grassroots efforts that have built massive social networks, or by technological improvements that have allowed us customize our lives like at no other time in history, these sorts of innovations define our generation. While one-size-fits-all-government has outlived its usefulness for the generation that is as diverse as the playlists on our iPods, true hope and change will come in the form of leaders and policies that embolden individuals to unleash natural growth.