GOP Policies an Attack on Millennials

Zachery Crowell, Contributing Writer

During the 2004 election, a gap in voting preferences emerged between those younger than 30 and those older than 65 for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War. This age gap in voting has since persisted, and last week was no exception. However, this trend is not about partisan allegiance, but instead about the theft of wealth and potential — including environmental resources, a healthy economy, public goods and fundamental liberties — from the young by the older generations in power. At the core of this electoral gap is the reality that essentially all the policies of the GOP reinforce this theft while hapless Democrats simply stand by, helpless or unwilling to prevent millennials from likely becoming the first generation in recent history to see a decline in living standards.

When taxes and government services are cut, as they have been since the so-called “shellacking” of 2010, it’s always in ways that predominantly injure the young, namely by eliminating resources for education and health care. The Affordable Care Act, though flawed like all laws, benefited millennials above other generations, since millennials were among those least likely to be insured by either an employer or the government.

There is also the near obsession of the GOP with restricting reproductive rights in this country. This has gone so far that Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, has counted 380 cases since 2005 where pregnant women were arrested on the mere suspicion that they might be planning on terminating their pregnancies. There are also the few states like Mississippi, where all but a handful of abortion clinics have been regulated out of existence. This purposeful and constitutionally dubious attempt to control women’s reproductive lives predominantly affects only those young enough to give birth in the first place.

This desire to control young people’s bodies goes far beyond the sexually active. Ultimately, our armed personnel will be the ones risking life and limb for any misguided war supported by bellicose lawmakers voted into office predominantly by Americans too old to serve. Yet these pro-order lawmakers don’t stop at just wars abroad. Under the pretext of battles against drugs, immigration and terrorism, they wage literal wars on the black and brown bodies who call this country home. How many more unarmed youth will be gunned down in the streets or locked in concrete cages before we declare victory over abstract nouns?

For a long time, I believed that any political divides along generational lines could be explained away by economic splits. In reality, it is the young who disproportionately deal with economic deprivation. Today, the United States has one of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, while youth unemployment perniciously affects nearly all countries, rich and poor. Again, both rich and poor millennials will be the ones to inherit the degradation of the environment and climate. Furthermore, the United States is squandering away the future of this country by burdening those born since 1980 with $1.2 trillion in student debt as of 2013 while leaving American youth ill-prepared for a high-skilled global economy. This is a generational crisis, one that neither party will solve.

It is time for a new social contract, one that will share the prosperity of an ever more technological, globalized and environmentally-strained economy. Voting is not enough, especially as it becomes increasingly restricted and drowned out by monied interests. If things are to improve, millennials must organize at all levels, including at the ballot box, in the workplace, through cultural outlets and even in public streets. Moreover, we must demand new political parties, because it’s increasingly apparent that those in power do not care for the welfare of this generation.