Time Magazine writer Charlotte Alter has a new book out about millennial leaders in politics called “The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For,” and it sounds like one to skip. But if you’re eager to get a taste of what Alter’s book might entail, you can listen to what she told MSNBC’s Katy Tur in an insufferably softball interview about the glory of millennials, the power of Barack Obama, and the direction of the United States (hint: we’re going WAY left, according to Alter and Tur).
“Social scientists have found that people actually base their politics on the events that they experienced in early adulthood,” explained Alter. “And once you reach kind of your late 30s, early 40s, really even your mid 30s, most of your attitudes are set. So it’s not really about being young or being old. It’s what events shaped your perception of America and its role in the world? For a lot of people our age it was 9/11, the great recession, the wars that followed 9/11, which made a lot of people our age skeptical of foreign interference abroad.”
Imagine having 9/11 be one of your formative events…and you think the lesson to be learned is that we shouldn’t get involved with foreign countries? Granted, there are lessons to be learned from our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan – no doubt about it. But damn, it sure seems to us that those planes hitting the Twin Towers carried with them a few other lessons. Lessons that the millennial generation utterly failed to pick up on.
But we digress.
“One of the things I try to get at in this book is the extent to which 20th century attitudes that our parents and grandparents had, are sort of evolving and even crumbling into the 21st century,” Alter continued. “So, for example, socialism means something different now than it did in the 1980s. And, again, the oldest millennials were 8 or 9 when the Berlin wall fell. So, they don’t have any of that Cold War context around socialism that our parents and grandparents might.”
We’re not sure about the scientific validity of Alter’s premise here. It sounds more like she went into the book determined to prove that millennials think about politics exactly the same way SHE thinks about politics…and voila, she found precisely what she was looking for! Millennials: The generation that doesn’t like the old definition of words – gender, socialism, marriage, citizen – so they just make up new ones! How terrific.
But really, this was our favorite part:
“Why doesn’t our generation vote in large numbers?” asked Tur.
“It’s a great question,” Alter answered. “I think that it’s because, first of all, millennial turnout did double in the 2018 midterms from 2014. So, it’s certainly going in the right direction. But one reason is that Barack Obama was such a transformative figure for people. And he was for many people our age the first president that they really got behind. And he made voting into an act of love. So, I don’t think millennials think of voting as their duty, they think of it as something they only do for something they care about and really believe in. And that makes it really hard for somebody like a Michael Bloomberg or a Joe Biden to attract millennial voters, because they don’t believe in them that much.”
But boy oh boy, give them kids some Bernie “Socialism isn’t Socialism” Sanders, and they’ll come out in droves.
Takeaway: Millennials learned the wrong lessons from 9/11, they don’t know the definition of common words, and they have to love someone to vote for them.
If Alter’s mission was to hack away at the stigma that millennials are a generation of confused fools, we’re not sure she quite hit the mark.