Millennials are in a unique position to assert great influence on America in the coming years.
There are several areas where young people are far more knowledgeable than older Americans. True, most millennials have fewer experiences in business and in life in general. But, recent events in this country and around the world involve issues that millennials have great expertise in. Here are seven areas in which they can be particularly influential.
1. The Right to Privacy
Millennials understand the internet and have a clearer vision of its potential and its perils. Our government has undertaken several projects that debatably violate our civil liberties. In particular, accumulation of personal data from phone companies and large tech companies is in the news. The debate about what is unconstitutional would be greatly enhanced by millennials who have far greater working knowledge of the potential problems.
2. Cyber Crime
Nations are hacking each other, and criminals are hacking companies and individuals. The potential danger that these threats pose is unfathomable. The real experts in these nefarious activities are probably young people. Our government should recruit more millennials to deal with these challenges to our cyber security.
Millennials have been hurt by the recession as much as almost any group in America. In spite of relatively significant educational credentials, members of this group are very unemployed and underemployed. Millennials should assert themselves as a unified bloc to demand action. While Washington dilly-dallies in BS political brinksmanship, young people, minorities, and many middle-class Americans are out of work.
4. Student Debt
I believe this issue is one of the most dangerous threats to American exceptionalism. For years, the United Negro College Fund has used the slogan “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” In context, these words are easy to understand. America cannot afford to allow its best and brightest to give up the potential affiliated with a college education. Our businesses, health care system, and government will suffer greatly in the long term if capable students give up the college dream because they can no longer afford it. Millennials should use their power as a voting bloc to bring down tuition costs using creative techniques.
5. Unwanted Pregnancies
Too many young women and girls are becoming pregnant for all the wrong reasons, which might include too little sex education, unavailability of birth control, a dearth of parental input, etc. I do not believe that old white men in Congress can legislate this problem away. Young people, in association with parents, schools, and religious leaders, need to hear from other young people about the pitfalls of starting a family too early and without a father. Millennials should proactively consider participating in mentor programs and organizations like Teach For America. Their wisdom and street smarts will be heard and appreciated by needy youngsters.
6. Civil Liberties
Frankly, Baby Boomers and all the other Americans between Baby Boomers and millennials do not fully appreciate the importance of maintaining civil liberties. Millennials are by far the most sensitive about issues relating to our rights under the Constitution. One reason for this is that millennials are children of the internet, which has created vehicles that can severely impact personal rights. Moreover, the War on Terror, and all the paranoia associated with it, has motivated the government to utilize the capabilities of the internet. The fine line between liberty and security is now front and center. I think millennials should lead the charge in this debate, not by occupying parks, but by occupying the halls of Congress as voters and as actual legislators.
7. The Economy Of the Future
Millenials must understand that the financial decisions being made now will affect the services they receive in the future. Balanced budgets and reformed entitlements will not have as great an impact on Baby Boomers as millennials. It is time for millennials to understand the delicate balance between altruism and financial security. There are trade-offs to be made. Effective government and elimination of waste and inefficiency are the only ways to minimize these trade-offs.
On the PolicyMic site, millennials have often expressed frustration with the direction of our government. They are correct. The country needs to make some important changes. Ironically, in so many areas, millennials can provide important input, not as doomsday proponents, but as contributors to the solution of problems.
Get involved politically. 2014 is going to be a huge midterm election and set the stage for 2016.