The Number One Reason You Should Be Excited to Graduate

ByPete Seat

Dear recent graduates:

Congratulations! All those sleepless nights cramming for tests finally paid off. You are officially one of the over 30% of American adults with a bachelors degree.

With your new degree comes great power like more pay and better opportunities. But you also get an added bonus: increased national debt, persistent unemployment, higher health care premiums and, probably your favorite, record student loan debt.

And to think, you just had to sit through hundreds of boring lectures and one commencement speaker to shoulder all that responsibility!

Now, I don't know who spoke at your commencement (was it Bono? Because he's cool), but can guess he/she probably fit the same bill: an aging baby boomer politician or celebrity who peppered the speech with jokes, sprinkled in some inspiration and topped it off with a dash of motivation.

After all, as President Barack Obama told the 2012 graduating class of Joplin High School, "The job of a commencement speaker - aside from keeping it short and sweet - is to inspire."

Their Tweetable words of wisdom surely became trending topics ... in your college town.

But what few, if any, of these speakers did, I'm sure, is atone for the sins of their generation. 

Don't get me wrong, each has achieved a measure of individual greatness, for sure.  Oprah built an empire that employs hundreds, Cal Ripken played 2,632 baseball games without pause and Bill Clinton felt your pain. But as a generation, they sure have messed up. 

You see, when you sat there all tucked in at your commencement exercises, ready to embark on life's next great journey, they were keeping a great big secret from you.  They weren't being upfront about what they have done - or not done - to create obstacles in our path. 

The worst offenders, of course, are the elected leaders who preach from the commencement podium, then chuck off their cap and gown to head back for D.C. where they ... ignore everything they just told you about working together and solving problems to create a better world.

Again, as individuals they do good work drafting and proposing meaningful legislation, but as a group they do nada. Except, of course, leave us with the bill.

As I read and listened to all of these inspirational commencement speeches, I couldn't help but wish every speech a politician gave was like a commencement speech. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of partisan sniping and he said/she said straw-man debates, our leaders — leaders — actually led?


After all, our nation's great schism is not ideological, no, it's generational. Ideologies separate us, but generational differences separate us far more.

Don't believe me? Try watching the Andy Griffith Show with your grandparents. I dare you.

At least there's one Boomer who gets it. One Boomer with the courage to stand up in front of thousands of eager millennial graduates to tell it like it is.  One ... wait ... Stephen Colbert? Yup, leave it to the comedian to be among the few to fess up.

"Your generation needs everything to be about you and that's very upsetting to us baby boomers because self-absorption is kind of our thing ... We made the last 50 years all about us," he told University of Virginia graduates last month. "We took all the money.  We soaked up all the government services.  And we've deep fried nearly everything in the ocean."

I'll give him that last one, deep fried Twinkies, while increasingly hard to find, are delicious.  Thanks, boomers!

But there is non-Twinkie hope, fellow millennials. There is a silver lining, a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. And you know what that is? Very soon Boomers will no longer be at the helm. We will.

Congrats. Let's make some magic.

Pete Seat is communications director of The Indiana Republican Party and former deputy assistant press secretary to President George W. Bush.