There never seems to be enough time to plan for our future. Our world has become a bluster of noise. We are bombarded by “breaking news” headlines, one after the next — all issues that demand our attention. And, while all the chatter and our division can feel overwhelming and isolating at times, our path forward starts by acknowledging we can only achieve our future by working together.
When did we stop acting like one nation? How do we find the courage to join hands and look toward our future when we live in a country we don’t even recognize anymore? It is time for millennials to lead the way.
My generation has been called — to reference Atlantic Magazine’s Ron Fournier — the “most supervised and entitled generation in human history.” It is also the largest, most diverse and most educated generation ever — 95 million of us.
That’s a lot of influence. But this generation “believe[s] traditional politics and government (especially Washington) are the worst avenues to great things … They have no patience for inefficiency, stodgy institutions or the status quo,” Fournier wrote in the Atlantic Magazine in 2013.
It is for this reason that millennials have been opting out of government. We have felt effective solutions can only be made outside elected office — in the private or nonprofit sectors where there is an open, entrepreneurial spirit. I get that. I have seen real change achieved that way. Now, at this moment, we need to bring that great promise back to government.
We are a generation raised in uncertain times. Through the 9/11 terror attacks (and the 16 years of war that have come after), we tumbled through the volatile economy of the Great Recession, searched for dwindling jobs and were burdened by staggering student loan debt. We saw our country polarized and gridlocked. All the while, our distrust in elected officials increased.
During this time, something else also was happening — something no one mentions. Something that shows that we just have been waiting for the right time to bring our collaborative, inclusive and community-first spirit to the last frontier relatively untouched by my generation — politics and government.
No other generation since World War II has volunteered as much as ours. According to the National Council on Citizenship, we “lead the way in volunteering” and are remarkably eager — fiercely even — to serve our community. We also are the most wired and connected generation ever, with such a sense of inclusion that we often view our neighbor’s problems and the globe’s challenges as our own. And, we did all of this while reinventing almost every major industry whether through new start-ups, apps or break-through innovations.
After four decades of government dominated by Baby Boomers, I believe it has never been more critical to finally bring our generational spirit of connectedness forward — not defined by a particular political ideology, but by a collective commitment to progress. Our time is now — 2018 will be the first election that we will be the largest generation of Americans eligible to vote.
Here is my challenge: Let us serve the greater community in a new way.
The technology that has empowered us as individuals and fueled our generation also empowers us as a group — to band together for a greater good. Respectful collaboration, not insults and yelling. A world with tolerance — less ideological and more welcoming for all of us to shape our future.
Connecting through pragmatic solutions and mutual respect rather than party divisions are key to facing our future in a new way. It is time for a connected age of government.
Michael Kotick is South California native and a candidate for California’s 48th Congressional District (Orange County).