This is my first New Student Union post, and I thought I would start off at 20,000 feet. How are we students going to affect the world into which we’ve been dumped post-graduation? It’s a big question; we’ve got big issues to handle. Our parents did: Vietnam, Watergate, racial tension, the malaise of the late 1970s. But we’ve got at least as many problems, and our problems are all inter-connected thanks to the Internet, global stock markets and instant communication. There is no more “backyard” into which we can sequester a problem. It’s now everybody’s problem.
Michigan governor Rick Snyder campaigned in 2010 on a “ReInvent Michigan” platform. I think that’s appropriate — Michigan needs a complete overhaul economically and especially in the form, function and finance of government. But, America seems to need something like that also. I’m an aspiring politician; I know full-well that Washington needs some reform. Energy, education, climate change, economic inequality, campaign finance, crumbling infrastructure, nonsensical tax policy — they all need to be addressed. That’s where I come in intellectually; “how can I change the world so that elected leaders can make the important decisions in leading a 21st Century world power?”
It’s not easy, there aren’t any silver bullets — but it’s our duty. We Millennials can’t sit this one out. You might be an aspiring doctor, teacher, engineer — you might have absolutely zero love or respect for politics. But we’re all citizens of a great republic, one which demands civic attention and participation from even the most apolitical. You might think government should be minuscule, or as large as possible. You might be socially conservative or progressively liberal. You might be a blue-state bleeding heart liberal or a red-state conservative Republican. These are all problems that affect us all, we’ve all got to saddle up and pitch in.
So, these are the stakes. The arrogance of ideology grinds Congress to gridlock, the selfishness of a consumer society fills us with “I’ve got mine, you get yours” attitudes. The Baby Boomers could bankrupt the country demanding retirement benefits our government promised them. But, we’ve got iPhones and WiFi. We apply for the Peace Corps and Teach for America in record numbers. We volunteer with time we should be doing homework and money we should be using to pay rent.
But that, ladies and gentlemen, is our purpose. We’re here to reinvent. We won’t do it overnight; Barack Obama isn’t going to achieve even half of it in his 4 or 8 years. We need to take the hand off and advance the ball ourselves; we need to believe that “Yes We Can” for the rest of our lives.
We might not have it better than our parents, or so the polls say. But, we must not let that trend advance past ourselves. Our children will have it better and their children too. Let that be our calling card. The next “Great Generation.”