Millennials and Gen Z will save democracy 🎃🥊 #000.4
Punchline: Following a frantic phone call with Dan Quayle to confirm the legality of his decision, Mike Pence has dropped out of the Republican primary.
It's been another busy week here on Earth. Of course, much of our collective attention has been focused on the latest Israel-Gaza conflict, which erupted after the terrorist organization Hamas attacked Israel and murdered 1,400 people, including children, a few weeks ago. Since then, the world has watched as the Israeli government's response has taken shape. The United Nations has said over 5,000 people have died in Gaza, including children. There doesn't appear to be an end in sight. I'm not an expert in this conflict or war in general, but I am a person on Earth who’s observing what's happening, and I'm deeply concerned by what I'm witnessing. It's important that leaders in the United States underscore their support for Israel and the Jewish people while also speaking out against Islamophobia, and all forms of hate; leaders who find themselves in positions of power must remain truly committed to the protection of human rights and ensure the rules of war are followed.
Ghoul of the House: Newly minted Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is, it's no surprise, an insurrection-supporting Christian nationalist with deeply problematic beliefs. I'm eagerly waiting to see what salacious scandal will inevitably torpedo his unremarkable career directly into a comfortable gig as a Newsmax commentator.
Self-promotion: Yesterday, I published an essay about my observations from RFK Jr.'s third-party announcement. You can read that work here. Much like RFK Jr.'s candidacy in general, I understand if you're not particularly interested.
Bye-bye: Former Vice President Mike Pence, who was the target of a GOP-induced lynch mob on January 6, 2021, has dropped out of the GOP primary for president having been unable to secure the all-important lynch mob base of the Republican Party.
The Main Event
Declaring that Millennials and Generation Z will save American democracy is, on its face and in fact, a bold claim. But I do honestly believe these two generational groups will meet the moment and deliver when necessary.
First, they will continue supporting candidates who believe in democracy, diversity, and economic and social justice. Second, the vast majority of these groups will not allow themselves to be subsumed by the chaos and confusion the far right is spreading online and in reality. There are, of course, some members of these young groups who are presently trapped in the Jordan Peterson grievance machine and the Nick Fuentes neo-Nazi Axis of Internet Evil, propagated by far right provocateurs who are primarily trying to make a quick buck more than anything else, though some are actively pursuing a consolidation of power to dismantle the U.S. Constitution. Even then, most young people trapped by the consumption of this kind of content are either sleepwalking, ignoring the contradictions in their undeveloped ideology, or are over-indulging, captured by the addicting head rush endless shock value provides them.
Unsure where to channel their legitimate frustrations about their condition, these young men fall into a funnel which seeks to induce sleepwalking by producing shock value. But, relative to those who are interested in progress and equal justice, the Millennial and Gen Z members who have fallen prey to the Internet Axis of Evil are few and far between. Still, for those few ungenuine influencers who are trying to lead these unsure young men toward a path of darkness, there is a lot of money backing their chaos-as-content entertainment complex.
But, back to my main point: optimism.
Millennials, it seems to me, have been frozen by their in-between status as a generational force. In 2008, the country watched as Millennials powered Barack Obama's unlikely presidential campaign. In 2016, there was a momentary set-back which removed the wind from the sails of the Millennial movement, though it should be noted, if only for history's sake, that Hillary Clinton received three million more votes than her opponent. In 2020, Millennials were back in the streets marching for social justice and back in the ballot box half-heartedly securing the presidency for Uncle Joe Biden.
Gen Z, for their part, find themselves as members of the political left not necessarily because of a single impressive presidential campaign. Instead, many of these young people vote for Democrats because the Republican Party hasn't even tried to govern since 2010. Young people can generally see through the illusions projected by adults-in-power, because they haven't yet been indoctrinated by a system which requires that they ignore obvious failings and endless contradictions within that very system. So, as the GOP stood by twiddling their thumbs as hundreds of children were shot in schools, Generation Z took notice.
A certain confluence of events had to occur to unite the Millennial movement and Gen Z's impressive streak of activism. I think such a confluence has occurred. There are simply too many obvious examples of failures from the last 25+ years of American leadership, particularly conservative leadership, which has mobilized these young, progressive forces to unite.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly warned Americans about the threats facing democracy. Since Charlottesville, he has steadily used similar rhetoric that underscores the rising threat of white supremacy and "semi-fascism." It needs to be noted that his warnings, both as the leader of the Democratic Party and as the President of the United States, stand in contrast to most of the traditional rhetoric trickling out of the consultant-run wing of the Party (which, let's face it, is most of the Party). Particularly, Biden is more skilled at evoking emotion to describe these problems and more effective at offering hope—like his belief that younger generations are the most educated in American history. He is more skilled, I believe, because he truly believes what he says. He is not, in these speeches at least, relying on poll-tested narratives.
Some on the left, perhaps rightfully so, see these tactics as an attempt to secure blind support for re-election. I generally agree that this is the reason the mainstream Democratic Party, since 2015, has warned vaguely about threats to democracy in fundraising emails, advertisements, and so on—so the critique is not without merit. But Biden has used much stronger language over a sustained period of time. If we accept, for a moment, that Biden truly believes what he's saying, then we should be both concerned about the present moment, and sense a need to meet history head-on, while remaining optimistic about our ability to defend the institutions of our democracy and, importantly, improve the system broadly to address our many serious challenges.
Nobody in America believes Joe Biden can solve all the problems we face. But his presidency is an important transition for our country. President Biden is working to defend our institutions as someone who has been entrenched in them for decades, which is necessary, so that the institutions are subsequently strengthen, improved, and further democratized.
This will be our work—the work of Millennials and Generation Z.
God speed & talk soon,
October 31, 2023