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If not now, when?
That’s the question that we should be asking. By “we,” I mean the “millennials.” Those of us unfortunate enough to be in our 20’s and 30’s. Those of us unfortunate enough to bear the brunt of the damage from the baby-boomer-Congress and their generationally unequal and fundamentally absurd position regarding the National debt. Who can blame them? It isn’t their Social Security checks that are being held hostage.
And who are we to demand that they change? The popular image painted by pundits and politicians of a millennial is a lazy, pot-smoking kid who lives in his parents’ basement and watches too much Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. We now face the age-old challenge of reforming the establishment by infusing the innovation of the young with the wisdom of the old. Changing our public perception will be our most difficult challenge. And the first step in changing that perception is demonstrating that our generation is not one of apathy. Rather, it is one of unprecedented technological means and a natural desire to come together in our effort to repair the dysfunction in Washington, instead of continuing the pointless process of drawing and defending divisive party lines.
I believe there is a reason why our generation tends to prefer comedy shows over news shows. It’s because we’ve been born into a system that has proven itself capable only of parodying the once-great legislative body responsible for authoring policies which fostered a global belief in the power of freedom and the importance of equality. There have no doubt been similar times in American history during which the folks in Washington found themselves separated by a seemingly impassable chasm between party ideology. But the past two years in Washington officially hit a record low, with the 112th congress enacting fewer than 230 laws. The average senator officially logged fewer than 30 hours a week in session, and the average congressman even fewer. Statistically, our legislators are the least-productive elected body this country has ever seen.
But this problem is not isolated in Washington. We must be careful not to forget that Congress is, by design, an elected body of the people for the people. That means resolving the Facebook argument you just had with that idealistic liberal or intransigent conservative is a step towards easing the gridlock in Washington. We need to realize that our greatest enemy is no longer the ideology of the opposing party. Our greatest enemy is inaction. Fortunately, the demographic polarization that the media meticulously harps on every two years does not have to be an indication of the political playing field to come. And if we have any hope of restoring sanity in Washington, we must not let these trends continue. As a people, we must recognize that each individual is capable of forming intelligent opinions regarding sensitive issues. We cannot be dismissive of an individual’s politics simply because they are a member of the same party as Rush Limbaugh or Al Gore.
With regard to the National debt, the field has been set. The conservatives demand entitlement reform and a continuation of the single largest defense budget on the planet, exceeding the next largest forteen countries’ militaries. While the liberals call for reducing the military and a continuation of the “social safety-net” which, ironically, is threatening to collapse our country’s economy. Each side has their respective think-tanks pumping out daily studies which show, definitively, that the other party is wrong. Each side has their own groupie-like news shows which broadcast to the American people one side of a complex debate, choosing to demean the opposition’s ideas and beliefs whenever the opportunity is presented.
As the outsiders, millennials can see clearly the absurdity of the entire establishment. And for that reason, we are charged with the responsibility of demonstrating the personal character and the willingness for cooperation required to solve the greatest problems of our time. We need to recognize the insanity of uncontrollable entitlement spending as well as the immoral and counter-productive military-industrial complex 21st century America has grown into. The 113th Congress is poised to solve the greatest economic crisis our country has faced since the Great Depression, and prove that Washington can once again put country before party. If we can’t do it now, when will we ever be able to?