Friday, January 17, 2014

How to Talk to Young People: A Quick Primer for the GOP

by Kit

Right now, the GOP has a problem with Millennials. Despite getting one of the worst deals from Obama and the Democrats, the GOP is still struggling with them. Yes, it's true that young voters since at least the 1960's have veered to the left but even Reagan managed to win them in 1984. Right now, the GOP and Conservatism are failing to reach Millennials. I have 4 tips for talking to Millennials.

Now this involves tone and style of delivery, not policy, but the right will need to develop policies on issues like healthcare, the economy, and high student loan debt (the single biggest issue among Millennials). So this is intended to be a starting point for talking to Millennials. So let's start.

1). Tough Love: Many conservatives seem to believe the best way to talk to Millennials is "tough love". This involves calling them lazy good-for-nothings who don't know anything about the real world and need some good old-fashioned pain to teach them a lesson. However, instead of pushing Millennials to vote conservative it usually ticks them off and makes them more pro-Democrat and pro-liberal. People do not like being called lazy. It puts people on the defensive. There is no more effective way of sucking any sense of humility and gratitude from a person in a matter of seconds than by calling them lazy, ungrateful bums.

The perfect example of this attitude would be Kurt Schlichter's article "Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millennials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom". His basic thesis is "You didn’t listen to us. Maybe you’ll listen to pain". Many conservatives feel that this is tough love. However, it comes across as the exact opposite of "love". Let me explain what it felt like, as a Millennial, reading the article. It seemed that, whatever his intentions were, he sounded like he was downright gleeful at the prospect of Millennials facing economic hardship through high unemployment and crippling student loans because they voted for Obama. That attitude doesn't win people, it just angers them.

2). Talk to us as you would talk to an equal. Saying "I respect your views" is not enough if your tone of voice and body language say otherwise (cough —Mitt Romney*—cough), especially if you sound like a Kindergarten teacher or mother telling us how proud you are that they managed to make a Lincoln log house all by themselves! It's very condescending and a huge turn-off.

If we know that even if you disagree with us, you respect respect our views, then you have usually gone up a notch in our eyes. Now, if you can only talk to us in either the "tough love" approach or the "talking to them like they are 3rd graders" approach, the latter is preferable, but both are counter-productive. We are adults with our own opinions, but we don't all have the same opinions and we are amenable to reason. But you have to try to reach us like adults.

Condescending schadenfreude is bad, but so is condescending flattery.

3). College students might lean towards the left but they are not all left-wing Occupy Wall Street activists. Think center/center-left. If you can come across as reasonable, likable, and, most importantly, respectful even to those you disagree with and make calm, rational arguments then you might bring in a few on the center. Maybe even the center-left….

If a liberal student starts attacking your views in the Q&A session remember "You cannot woo him" and that you do not need to attack him personally as the people that would love that are not the ones you need to win. Your targets are the in-betweens. So calmly, rationally, and respectfully respond to his or her arguments and then move on. Don't take the "tough love" approach or the "you are so special" approach I outlined above because you will only tar the entire audience when you do. Take the calm and respectful approach.

If the person continues to demand time then calmly and sternly point out he asked a question, you answered it, and that there are other people who have questions that want to be asked. You do not need to call them selfish. What you've just said paints them as such. IF they continue to demand more time to the point of heckling then you may call for security. If you go Newt Gingrich and start pounding on them from the get-go, then the in-betweens will zone out as all they will see is two idiots screaming at each other. And the people who cheer you on? They already supported you or your position before the speech. You didn't win anyone over.

As for different tastes in music, shows, etc. Don't bring it up as they will assume due to generational differences, that you do have a different taste. They really don't mind you having different tastes in music so long as you don't judge their tastes.

4). Hecklers shouting out of turn, do not merit a response. As above, you have security there for a reason. If the heckler gets cheers, chances are those cheering are in the minority (unless you've been a jerk to the crowd or are speaking before a far-left organization) and won't be swayed by any reason. If it does appear to be a majority, then it was most likely pre-planned and you can complain to the college or group that invited you (if said group was non-partisan, non-political). So, remain calm and let security handle the situation. Shouting them down might feel good but its a waste of energy. Most people will see them as being jerks. Why waste your voice trying to point it out when they are doing a perfectly fine job themselves?

Conclusion: Don't sneer at Millennials, don't try cheap and condescending flattery, be calm and respectful, and always be sincere about it. Millennials aren't the people you think they are and they aren't beyond reach, but you can only reach them with respect. These rules actually apply to any group you are trying to reach. You may not understand their problems but, to them, those problems are usually valid.


AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Excellent rules. The tough love thing is something I've discussed with several people and it's a real problem for the conservative movement at the moment. Too many (especially on talk radio) have fetishized "tough love," and what they are doing has nothing to do with love, it's just about grousing and whining.

Tough love is teach man to fish (rather than giving him a fish) so he can feed himself. The modern conservative version has become berate the man for not knowing how to fish and not being tough to fish and probably being a stupid whiner who just wants a free fish anyway... why the hell should we help this lazy bastard.

That's turning people off by the millions.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, Schlichter is an amazing ass. It's rare that he doesn't write something guaranteed to offend all but the most nasty fringers.

Koshcat said...

The only disagreement I have with your post, and it is a small one, is many in that generation seem almost libertarian at times. My brother is in this generation. When I got him to talk about politics, what turns him off of republicans/conservatives is the social stuff. He is actually pretty conservative but doesn't care if his friends are gay or get married or just live together, etc. live and let live. But he is frustrated because the damn baby boomer want him to pay for their healthcare but keep holding on to their jobs out of pride so he can't get a foot in.

He is 30 years old and should be on his way moving up in his career but is stuck on the ground floor.

tryanmax said...

Kit, there's an undertone to your piece that I agree with but I think it needs pointing out. Comparisons between the Boomers and the Millennials are many, some apt, some completely off-base. Out one that fits but I have never seen made is how both generations identify so strongly as a generation. In other words, you attack one member of the group, you have essentially attacked the entire group. I don't care to discuss the merits or demerits of such a trait in light of the fact that that is simply how it is.

In that light, it sorta makes sense that the right-wing radio talkers lead the charge on the "tough love" mantra. Most of the radio guys are from the Boomer generation but are not of it, if you catch my meaning. They see their own generation as an obvious bad example and so they are particularly cantankerous toward Millennials whom they see as willfully following in the same footsteps.

I don't tend to agree with that perception. Every generation has the need to make it's own mistakes no matter how many previous generations have made the same. And every generation suffers from thinking they'll get it right because...reasons. Just because the mistakes of the past are obvious to the ones who lived through them doesn't make them obvious at all to those who were born later. Instead of browbeating Millennials in ways they don't even understand on the assumption they know things they can't possibly know, it would be better to actually discuss and explain the bad examples of the past. But I'm sure that's asking much too much.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I see a lot of libertarianism in the younger generations as well, but we can't capitalize on it because we are insulting in our approach to them, we offer nothing to address their concerns, and we make the gay issue such a litmus test that there can be no cohabitation.

I think what Kit mentions here would go a long way to curing the first problem. The second problem is about agenda and that can be fixed. The third issue will solve itself in the next 10-15 years as gay marriage becomes law and the issue vanishes. Unfortunately, we will lose a lot of voters in that time.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, A couple points in response.

First, I've looked into the Millennials and I see a lot of evidence that they've been wrongly described by the Boomers. Since we Xers failed to worship at the Boomer alter, the Boomers invested heavily in the idea that the Millennials were them all over again and could replace us. But nothing I've seen backs that up -- they are very similar to Xers and oldsters. And now that the Millennials are starting to outnumber the Boomers, I'm slowly seeing a realization of this, complete with a lot of Boomer anger, as Boomers write articles about how lazy, self-centered incompetents these Millennials are. None of it seems to be true.

Secondly, I think you are partially right about Talk Radio, but there's more. Talk Radio has gotten into the anger business. Listeners don't tune in unless you anger them or scare them. So they have gotten into the business of seeing everyone who isn't "of the body" as lazy, corrupt or bought and as an outright threat to their listeners. This anger is projected against everyone who isn't part of the cult -- Millennials, blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, the unemployed, teachers, unions, government employees, Republicans, etc. Essentially, Talk Radio has become a hostility machine and part of that is outright anger, part is mocking.... none is productive.

This, unfortunately, has been adopted by a lot of conservatives and Republicans because they hear it all the time. So when they speak to Millennials (or blacks, or women, or etc.) they spew out insults.

El Gordo said...

Excellent points. I have some sympathy for the "tough love" line. Then again, I´m not running for office. A pundit or blogger can say all kinds of things, a mainstream politician must not. Most importantly, "tough love" is not a policy. It may feel good to say it, but it is really the conservative version of liberal self-congratulation. As my boss used to say before important meetings, "Never open your mouth just because you know something. Let them die stupid."

#3 cannot be stressed enough. The hard liberals are not our target audience. You see it in comments threads all the time: conservatives get hung up on some left wing trolls, the sane voices get crowded out and both sides end up looking foolish. You know the saying about wrestling with pigs... it makes the pig happy and you all dirty and stinky.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow millennial (31 next week!)...

Firstly, after reading his swill on BH for three years, I can safely say that, yes, Kurt Schlichter is a posterboy for douchebags and a complete waste of skin. And it pains me that he gets more readers than Andrew but that's what happens when you get a seat at the "cool table." :-)

I also concur with what Koshcat says, though I can only speak from experience: my friends tend to lean left when it comes to social issues but when it comes to the economy... hell, we all jumped for joy when we found out Florida was going to drug test welfare recipients. (I don't know if this was repealed or not.) Okay, we didn't literally jump for joy, but this is the kind of law that folks like Al Sharpton would complain about. Too bad!

Most of my friends don't have problems with guns, are pro-death penalty, against handouts and affirmative action... but they'd also like some kind of universal healthcare, if only for emergencies.

But you know what? The nutjobs on the right scare us a little more than the nutjobs on the left. Michael Moore says something and everyone points and laughs. Rush says "Jump!" and a lot of people ask, "How high?!"

And it's been pointed out here that the right has pretty much surrendered to the left on the environment, but when you have conservative pundits joking about leaving all the lights on on Earth Day, it looks bad!

tryanmax said...

Gordo, as Scott pointed out, when Rush says "Jump!" a lot of people ask, "How high?" So tough love isn't really good from the pundits unless the GOP proper makes a great show of distancing themselves from it.

And continuing on about talk radio, another problem from them is that they've characterized anyone who isn't hard right as hard left. They refuse to craft a message for the middle and smear anyone who would speak to the middle. Even when they do acknowledge that the middle isn't the left, they characterize them as worthless. Rush likes to say they are only 20% of the vote and asks why you would tailor a message to just 20%. *ahem*

There's a lot to unpack in that statement. First, Rush is wrong about the size of the so-called middle. It's at least a third if not more. And his audience is something much less than 20% of the vote. Maybe half that. Finally, and most importantly, the statement implies that nothing appealing to the middle is appealing to the far right and vise-versa. All the more reason to leave talk radio in the dust.

Kit said...

El Gordo,

"It may feel good to say it, but it is really the conservative version of liberal self-congratulation"

Exactly. That is what it usually turns into. It becomes a way of making the conservative feel better about himself because he did X or Y or X and not Y instead or because he was raised a certain way. Its not about appealing to anyone, its about puffing one's self up. That is not love.

At best they sound like the old codger going "When I was young I had to walk to school uphill in the snow in freezing weather carrying my baby brother Tiny Tim on my back."
A bit like Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen. LINK

At worst they sound like jerks who think that anyone who did not live exactly as they did has no idea what real life is like and are a bunch of lazy losers. Suffering and hardship can produce elitism and arrogance just as surely as the lack of suffering and hardship can. Just look at Russia.

But I will agree w/ tyranmax. The pundits doing this, while not as bad as politicians doing it, is still bad because they are the intellectual center of conservatism. So when the right's intellectual center thinks something like this it can only naturally have a ripple effect that goes out across the movement. Thus pulling out further and further out from the mainstream.

BevfromNYC said...

Kit - I agree with you. However I am also a firm believer that to get respect one must be respectful of those to whom you want to receive that respect (or something like that). Both generations have been guilty of bad behavior and of failing to listen to the others' arguments. However, often it is not only condoned, but encouraged to show disrespect to ones elders. For instance - Retired Gen. Petraeus was hired by The New School to teach a class doesn't matter. He never got a chance to do anything because he was shouted down as a war monger and physically assaulted in the classroom, on the street etc. And this is why at this time and this place, Millennials are compared to Boomers...both generations were reared to believe they created the counter-culture.

But here is the dirty little secret - Every generation is followed by successive generations who think no one understands them and they are the counter-culture. I said that about my Depression era parents and grandparents. They said that about their Civil War era parents and grandparents. They said that about their Revolutionary War parents and grandpar...well, you get the idea.

Oh, and get off my lawn. Turn down that blasted caterwauling you call "music" and get a job...and a haircut!

Kit said...


First of all, Petraeus was a visiting lecturer. He didn't remain long at CUNY because he was never going to. He was there to teach a seminar on a certain topic and then leave. Which it appears he did.
Also, while the university's initial response was tepid, they soon stiffened and police cracked down on several protestors.

Anyway, you are making a mistake I pointed too, confusing a small minority with a majority.

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, In my experience, there is never a one-size fits all method that motivates everyone. Tough love works for some, challenging/competition works for others, and hand holding/reinforcement works for others. So I see all three as necessary tools if you want to get the maximum results. That's the long way of saying that I absolutely think tough love has a place in the tool box, but it can't be used exclusively.

But I don't think the use of tough love is the problem on the right so much as what passes for tough love. As I note in the example in my comment above, tough love is the old adage: give a man a fish, feed him for the day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. By not taking the easy way out and handing him a fish, but instead making him learn to fish himself, you have shown tough love. You've made the guy do something for his own good even when all he really wanted was a fish. And the end result is that the problem is solved and everyone is happy.

The problem is that talk radio conservatism has lost this lesson. They now view tough love as "refuse to help." In fact, offering a fish is considered communism and teaching the man to fish is smeared as weepy liberalism. Moreover, it's bred this attitude that we should be mocking anyone who needs to help because that's the "tough" part. In other words, the talk radio version of tough love is "insult them until they go solve their own problem." All that does is drive people into the arms of liberals who are happy to hand out fish.

And I think the problem with Talk Radio doing this is that they influence the fringe and they give aid and comfort to a cadre of jackasses in Congress who then spew this idiocy, which becomes the public view of conservatism.

If you think of it in company terms, it would be like having a rogue sales department putting out insanely offensive ads about the customers and then having a couple junior vice presidents standing up for those ads and saying, "That's what our company is really about!"

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I've never been worried about reader numbers. If I was, I would just post insane idiocy and we would be flooded. But that's not really what I'm after. That said, it is frustrating to see all the mouthbreathers flock to people like Schlichter... "Hell yea! You tell 'em how inferor theys is Kurt, guh guh guh. They ain't no reel 'mkericans." ("scratches" crotch for suspiciously long time)

In any event, the Earth Day thing is a great example of the problem. Like it or not, the public cares about the environment. They don't want dirty water, dirty air, dirty soil, dangerous chemicals, and they don't want to wipe out animals or expend all our resources. That's all very rational. But the conservative fringe is so angry about this and responds in such a nasty and stupid way that it sounds like they do want to pollute the earth. That's a sure way to make the public think you're a bunch of untrustworthy idiots.

And then we repeat this on issue after issue. Conservatism has become it's own worst enemy. That is what needs to change. And I wholeheartely agree with Kit's point that we are killing our chances with Millennials by treating them like they are stupid malingerers.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, On the 20% point, I find it funny that anyone could think the middle is the smallest group. When in human endeavors have humans not formed a bell curve? Not to mention, his ratings make it pretty clear that he's talking to a tiny minority.

Interestingly, I've been reading about his ratings. He claims 20 million listeners (6% of the public)... far short of 20%. His distributors claim they reach 15 million (4.8% of the public). But other radio people say that to get to a true audience figure, you need to take the reach and divide it by 10. So his audience could be as small at 1.5 million 0.4% of the public).

tryanmax said...

This is kind of an aside, but Earth Day makes me think of it. Conservatives could (and should) totally own the environment. For one, conservative and conservation have the same root.

Environmentalism (vs. conservationism) is a 100% feel-good movement. It attracts who it attracts, sure, but it's also the sort of thing that weirds-out the vast majority of Americans. I gather this anecdotally just from the Earth Day events I attend most years. This is not a mainstream movement whatsoever.

If conservatives just approached the issue in an agreeable yet rational manner, they would own the thing overnight. Instead, they've rhetorically given the public the choice between being regulated into a corner or poisoned.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think it's a mistake for conservatives to tar entire groups with the actions of a few. That's an effective political strategy when you are attacking a group, e.g. Democrats, but it's a horrible approach when you are trying to woo a particular group. We need to forget the bad people and seek out the good. There are always more good than bad and we need to win them over.

Remember, liberals believe in group identity, conservatives believe in individuals.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew and Kit - I get that we need to pander to young voters. (because that is really what we are talking about here, right?). And I agree whole-heartedly. You can't get votes if you talk down to and insult those to whom you wish to convince to vote your way. And while Obama et al. continues calling everyone who disagrees with them "racists" and more, Republicans have not come up with a long term strategy to convince these otherwise disaffected youth who think we adults are stupid any more of reason to vote for Republicans.

But what I am saying that...well, it's a chicken/egg thing. How can we open up a dialogue that is aesthetically pleasing to you if we are also treated to the same "broadbrush" mind-closing stereotyping. It can't ALL be about shutting down Rush Limbaugh et al. And of course...WE MUST COME UP WITH A VOTABLE PLATFORM.

Okay, now I'm yelling, but WE KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS, SO WHAT IS THE CHECK LIST FOR THE PLATFORM THAT IS VOTABLE? I get that we need to drop social issues from the platform. I have been saying that for at least 5 years now. But what are these magic issues/causes that young people will want to get behind? You guys are the Millennials...tell me. That is really what I am getting at...

Oh, and that there has NEVER been a time in all human history when there wasn't young, disaffected youth...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, It's not really pandering. It's about using conservative ideas to address the issues that concern them. As conservatives, we should be looking to fix all the things conservatism can fix... that's not pandering, that's having a complete agenda.

Moreover, it's not pandering to say, "Stop insulting the hell out of these people." That is exactly what we are doing. Unless we stop doing that, we can't win these people over because they will never be able to look beyond the idea that we hate them to see if our ideas work for us.

Think of it this way... if the Iranians suddenly offered some policy advice they thought might help the Israelis improve their economy, would the Israelis even listen? Doubt it. It's the same thing here. With talk radio conservatives just assaulting these people day after day (and that goes way beyond just Millennials) and hoping they suffer, these people have learned to tune us out and reject our ideas out of hand... not to mention that our ideas tend to be "You're stupid. Solve your own problem."

In terms of a platform, look at the things in my book. I talk about how to wipe out the student loan problem (the number one issue for Millennials and an issue that is all-around bad for our economy). I talk about things like internet freedom, which they care about a lot. I talk about jobs, which they need. I talk about improving schools, which they will want for their kids (if they have them already or will have them in a couple years). There's the platform.

The problem is that Rush et al. are offering none of that... they are offering the anti-that. Their platform is: (1) your loans are your problem because you shouldn't have gone to college, (2) the internet needs to be regulated to stop sex and to save the intellectual property of big companies, and what's so bad about the NSA listening in to everything anyway, (3) kill unemployment benefits so you lazy people will suffer enough to find work, and (4) education sucks because teachers are worthless commies. Why would a rational person support someone who says those things?

Kit said...

"Oh, and that there has NEVER been a time in all human history when there wasn't young, disaffected youth."

Bev, I agree with you. Millennials aren't exactly new in that regard. But every generation, in its youth. thinks its the first to do something. Just like every young person in love thinks their love is the first and greatest in the history of history.
Only the Boomers were foolish (or arrogant) enough to cling to it well into adulthood.

Koshcat said...

About a year ago I attended a lecture by a woman who writes and studies about the different generations. What I liked about her was that she didn't place one generation as superior to another. Her theory is that in general a generation is defined by seminal event that occurs at around age 10-13. This is the age were many start really paying attention to the world around them. It may not always be one event that causes all the effect but there is often one that strengthens the bias. In her surveys of generation X, they are often suspicious of large organizations: government, businesses, religion, etc. She is a Baby Boomer and event that had relatively little impact on her (she stated she never thought to ask it in her surveys) but was brought up multiple times by gen Xers is the Challanger shuttle explosion (1983). This was an example to that generation that large institutions (like NASA) will ultimately fail you. An organization that Baby Boomers would probably point to as a big government success. The seminal event for many Millenials? 9-11-2001. It is thought that this is often why the group as a whole doesn't really make long term decisions. Heck, they won't even agree to meet at a certain time in a certain place for dinner but instead often chase each other around texting until they all meet.

Understanding how a generation thinks can really help you deal with people from different generations. Baby boomers will take any opportunity for advancement and worry about effect on personal life later; gen Xers will consider family implications prior to taking the same deal; Millenials will consult with their parents before taking the deal. 40% of Baby boomers think they would have done a better job raising themselves than their parents did; 90% of genXers have a positive attitude toward their parents; Millenials often see their parents as one of their best friends/advisors.

Point is no generation is greater than another (I HATE the term The Greatest Generation), they are just different. This is an important skill especially for a leader.

BevfromNYC said...

So Andrew, Kit, et al. - What I am really trying to get at is what is it that Millennials-slash-young people want that we can agree is reasonable rational policy that we can use to as a platform to get votes. "Stop being mean to the us" is not any better than what Rush comes up with. So okay let's just take the first nasty Rush-ism and try to break through some walls.

(1) your loans are your problem because you shouldn't have gone to college,
Student loans and the high cost of higher education - Tell me is what we can promise you that is a realistic, rational vote-inducing solution to the high cost of education that young people can understand and get on board?

As the representative of The Baby Boomers which I believe I am one of the few on this blog, tell me what I can do to make you happy enough to vote for my platform - and again "Stop being mean to me" is not going to help.

Kit said...


I said at the outset that this was not about policy but about tone. Like with jokes, one's content matters little if his delivery is awful. Policy is for a different topic but one that will have to be addressed and I think Andrew has some great ideas in his book re student loans.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I hate that term too. It is very self-aggrandizing and if they want to get into a debate about how great they were, let's count all the massive failures their generation is responsible for. I've listed them in a debate once and they are truly damning.

Anyways, I agree with your point. I think people are shaped by the things they see in their youths and understanding those helps us understand what kinds of messages will work for them.

But no matter what message works or doesn't, the key to remember is that no generation is necessarily better than another and even though we may all belong to one generation or another, we are all individuals who can be reached as individuals. That is what we need to remember politically speaking.

When we set out to say Generation ABC are turds, all we are doing is losing the good people in that generation as we tar them with behaviors that likely don't even apply to them -- too often conservatives are blasting "ABCers" based on the behavior of a handful of people or 15% in a poll.

It's the same thing with other groups. If you group blacks as blacks, Hispanics as Hispanics and women as women, then you lose the debate before it even begins because it's the left that relies on people giving up their own self-interest in the name of group harmony and attacking these groups only plays into that.

tryanmax said...

Bev, you're asking for too specific an answer. Right now, it doesn't appear to Millennials that anyone is even doing anything about student loan debt. Democrats act flustered by the rising tuition and Republicans say you're stupid to go to college. It's not like there's some disagreement between two competing ideas to address the problem. No one is meaningfully tackling this issue.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I agree that "stop being mean to us" is not a platform, but Millennials aren't saying that.

They have acted exactly like rational people would to the constant attacks -- they've turned their backs on conservatives. Instead, they've looked to the Democrats (or Ron Paul) to solve their issues (student loans, jobs, educating kids, internet freedom, drones) or stayed home when the Democrats went wrong.

Millennials are a golden opportunity for us because they are quickly learning that the Democrats only make things worse and because they will soon be the dominant voting group. And the point to Kit's article is that we will never be able to exploit that opportunity unless we stop turning them off and start offering them things that address their issues.

In that regard, I say again, look at the things in my book. I talk about how to wipe out the student loan problem (the number one issue for Millennials and an issue that is all-around bad for our economy). I talk about things like internet freedom, which they care about a lot. I talk about jobs, which they need. I talk about improving schools, which they will want for their kids (if they have them already or will have them in a couple years). There's the platform that will pull them over to us.

Kit said...


I think Ron Paul of all people has managed to speak to them. Yes, he's several fries short of a happy meal and looks like that crazy old coot at the bar but he's never insulting towards them.

BevfromNYC said...

Okay, then. It's clear that you Millennials want to beat up on us Boomers because we haven't left the world perfect place for you. It's your turn now to disappoint your children. How about we ALL try the tone changing thingy together. Let's all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya",

Let me know when you want to discuss policy. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, In all honesty, I'm not sure what Ron Paul offered that they found so attractive, but he's very popular with the young. Maybe it was his idealism?

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, First, I'm not a Millennial, I'm a forgotten Xer.

Secondly, how is "stop attacking Millennials and start addressing their issues as well" an attack on Boomers? This isn't a Boomer versus Millennial issue, this is a "conservatives need Millennials and are going about it wrong" issue.

Third, we've offered a good deal of policy already. Which part don't you like?

tryanmax said...

Bev, truthfully, there's probably not a lot that can be done for those who have already finished college. What Andrew puts in his book--extend the payback term, lower the interest rate--is about it. But it would be something. The only idea anyone is offering currently is a vague notion of forgiveness that no one expects to materialize, except maybe in some deeply classist form that forgives teachers and social workers--but that's not a vote grabber.

As for future college students (i.e. children of Millennials), conservatives need to extricate their craniums from their posteriors and realize that when the government is so deeply intertwined with education, it ceases to be a free market and thus things like price controls are in order.

Koshcat said...

Let's throw some ideas out about the student loan problem. Yes, a lot of young people overpaid for degrees that will hardley ever make enough to pay it back. Remember, these people as kids were told "don't worry about the loan, your degree will pay it back". It was a bold face lie and now they know it.

1. Could offer even lower interest rates, like zero. Most of the loans are owned by the government so it is a bail out but better them than the big banks.
2. Could offer significant pay back of providing government services to under served areas. It used to be you would get $25,000 for every year you were a doc at a Indian reservation clinic. 2 years = $100,000? 4 year = full payment?
3. Tax breaks to companies who offer assistance to pay off new employee loans?

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Agreed on the reduced interest. There's no reason we should be loaning money to banks at near zero percent but then charging students who can't discharge the debt 8%. I also think the payment length should be stretched out and repayment should start later.

I like the idea of forgiveness for providing certain kinds of service.

Ultimately though, the real problem is that the availability of student loans has explode the cost of education. The only politically feasible way to fix that is to put a price control on schools that accept the loans.

As an aside, I also very much like the idea of free college for the top X% of students. It is surprisingly affordable and it guarantees that our best and brightest can go to school and then start their productive lives without a mortgage hanging over their heads. It also provides a lot of strong incentives for students to excel.

tryanmax said...

Top X% is an idea I think a lot of people could go for. It also fuels the competitive spirit, if conservatives are desperate for a way to latch onto that idea. (guh, guh, guh, free = handout = welfare = socialism = the End of America!)

On payback programs, if there were such a thing for guys with mar/comm backgrounds, I'd sign up in a heartbeat. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, A lot of this stuff is happening whether talk radio conservatives get on board or not because state governors ("RINO TRAITORS!!!") realize that these things are good and are passing them.

The Top X% thing really is a great idea because it does fuel the competitive spirit and it forces these kids to keep up their grades. It is also cheaper than the current system and it slashes the amount of debt students take on.

BevfromNYC said...

See, now we're getting somewhere. This, my children, is the beginning of the end of start of "a new tone"!

Idea #4 - Make colleges/universities financially responsible for the loans as co-signers. Right now they have no skin in the game. It's free money to them and they can get as much as they want just by raising tuition as often as they like with no risk. If the institutions are on the hook for tuition payback, they may be more responsible with admissions and tuition costs.

This isn't a Boomer versus Millennial issue, this is a "conservatives need Millennials and are going about it wrong" issue.

Andrew - Yes, but it also very much a Boomers v. Millennials issue. Who do you think these far-right/Millennial hating/Rush Limbaugh listening conservatives ARE? They are Boomers...cranky-pantsy old Boomers who "didn't get nothing for free, so why should you". Just saying. And to get them to change "the tone", you have to give them a reason to and an argument to replace "the tone"...dialing down the rhetoric and ramping up the policy discussions works wonders.

AndrewPrice said...

"My children" -- Bev, I just spit up my drink. LOL!

tryanmax said...

Who do you think these far-right/Millennial hating/Rush Limbaugh listening conservatives ARE? They are Boomers

Yes, but there are just as many Boomers on the other side who are expecting Millennials to shoulder the economy (read: Boomers' healthcare and retirements) with jobs that don't exist and humongous debt burdens that do.

This is a simple matter of whoever goes first, wins. The right doesn't seem to realize the race is on while the left has some idea but can't find the starting line.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, To a large degree, I agree. Most of the radio talkers and politicians are Boomers, so you're right that we need to overcome that issue as well. But I need to point out that there are others. I believe Captain *sshole (Schlicther), who really hates on Millennials, is an Xer. And a lot of the conservatives Xers are picking this up as well. It seems to have become a fringe talking point.

But even more to the point, this is a problem on issue after issue, not just Millennials. When it comes to women, blacks, Hispanics, Millennials, the unemployed, teachers, etc., conservatives go into a Shock and Slander mode. We need to break that habit entirely.

On making colleges co-signors, that's an interesting idea. I'm not sure how it would work, but I like the idea.

El Gordo said...

"In any event, the Earth Day thing is a great example of the problem. Like it or not, the public cares about the environment. They don't want dirty water, dirty air, dirty soil, dangerous chemicals, and they don't want to wipe out animals or expend all our resources. That's all very rational. But the conservative fringe is so angry about this and responds in such a nasty and stupid way that it sounds like they do want to pollute the earth."

First of all, YES, conservatives should think and talk about the environment.

However, Earth Day? The "public" didn´t come up with Earth Day, politicians did. Apart from the fact that Earth Day is a sinister ritual that does nothing to improve the environment, there are two problems:

1. This isn´t 1970. Many environmental problems have been solved or vastly improved. Yes, there is always something to be done, but not enough to justify an -ism or satisfy those who subscribe to an -ism.

When it comes to environmental measures, western countries have already entered the zone of diminishing returns. The cost goes up, the benefits go down. There is no room for big, utopian schemes. Sound environmental policies will not be spectacular. Investing in less developed countries would probably create the biggest return (and I mean help, not browbeat them). Doing that will not protect you from problem 2.

2. Never forget that the left is the aggressor here. For the left, it is all about ideology and politics, not woods and streams. Environmentalism, like the class struggle, is a means to get what they always wanted: divide and conquer, dictate our behavior, practice social engineering. There are sane environmentalists and they get attacked by the left as well. Because they talk about priorities and limited means.

Let´s say Democrats make up three bad proposals, lie about the cost and attack you for opposing them. What do you do? Talk about the cost? Makes you sound heartless. Give them one out of three? That is a win for them and they will attack you for hating little children anyway. On top of that they can come up with a new stupid idea any time.

Offer your own ideas? Sure. But those ideas, if they are rational, will be less visible than wind farms and electric vehicles and will be attacked as weak (a mere fig leaf). Because of 1. And for every sound idea you still have to oppose any number of bad ideas an infinitely cynical party can think of.

ALL Republican administrations have done something for the environment. But they can´t very well demagogue the issue because ... that would not be conservative.

So how do you deal with demagogues? I don´t think that the right wing fringe is our biggest problem here. European conservative parties didn´t manage. They - certainly in Britain, Spain and Germany - have simply given in and adapted bad ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, I think there is a flaw in your statement that needs to be discussed first: there seems to be an assumption in conservative circles that the public will fall like lemmings off any cliff the left points toward unless we stop them. But history has shown that not to be the case. The public is much more rational and much more self-interested than conservatives give them credit for.

Let me give you the perfect example. Motorcycle helmets. Insurance groups and nannystate leftists forced through helmet laws in the 1980s. But the public didn't like them and fought back. The federal law on that was wiped out and a number of states repealed their helmet laws. Ditto on speed limits which were put into place to appease environmentalists and nannystaters. Again, all the gains they made have been erased except in a handful of states.

The point is that the public is rational. When something affects them in ways they don't approve of, they will fight back and the law goes down in flames. Look at Global Warming. The left has been pushing this for 30 years now, yet they've made no progress with the legislation because the public doesn't see it as worth the inconvenience to them.

So keep that in mind, that this isn't a situation where the left will win unless conservatives find a distraction. The left still needs to sway the public, and by and large, they've only been able to do that when the issue was something the public believed to be true and where the public saw the cost of the fix to them personally to be less than the harm to them personally.


AndrewPrice said...

So turning to the issue of how conservatives should respond, it's a false dichotomy to say that we need to bid against the left. We can win by discrediting the left's argument or by pointing out how the cost of the fix will be worse than the cost of the harm. Those things work all the time.

The problem is this: to make that kind of argument requires credibility. If the public sees you as knee-jerk opposed to environmentalism, then you won't have any credibility in their eyes when it comes to the objections you make.

That's why conservatives need to drop their overt hostility to all things environmental, stop reveling in pollution and stop spitting out industry arguments that everyone knows are crap. We need to be seen as sharing the public's concerns -- rather than as having an ideological opposition to those. When that happens, then it's easy to say, "Yeah, well, normally I'm in favor of more protection, but THIS ONE doesn't make any sense" or "THIS ONE is too expensive." Those are great arguments, except that you can't make them when you are seen as pathologically opposed to an issue.

It's the lesson of Chicken Little, and our side has forgotten it and then blamed the public for not listening to us anymore.

Rustbelt said...

Well, late again. There's not much more I can say except that I agree with pretty much everything Kit has to say in his article. So, I'll just throw in a few things that hit me while reading the other comments.

Andrew, you may have hit onto something when you talk about Boomers seeing all their faults in Millenials. Now, I for one, don't view my peers (or myself, for that matter), as lazy, spoiled, privileged brats with no drive at all. But I wouldn't be surprised if that's how we're viewed by the Boomer generation. That's fine, because I have my own gripes with the Boomers- mainly the lack of responsibility they have whenever you talk about today's problems with them. ("None of this social stuff is our fault. That all started in the 60's- under our parents' watch." "The economy isn't our fault. This is what happens when Xers run everything. And you young 'uns won't work!" And the big one: "Only young people voted for Obama. You're the reason he's in office. You and you alone!"
Little wonder why young people don't care to listen to the elders of either party. (I'd say the dems only get the nod because they at least offer tokenism to the fools who will accept it. Well, that and the repubs' ability to smear and scare everyone away.)
By the way, note to all non-Boomers: if you really want to rile up that generation, just remind them that Obama is a Boomer! (see above) Oh, it's true. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, anyone born between 1946 and 1964, is a Boomer. Obama was born in 1961. ("That's not true! That's too late! His birth certificate is fake! You and only you elected him and he's one of you! Now, get off my lawn!")
Good news, Andrew. Generation X is off the hook on that one.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure what generation I am. Half of the groups/reports I looked up date the start of the Millenial birth period from 1978 to 1980. Others say it started as late as 1983 or 1984. That means I could be a Millenial, sure. But it also means that I (along with Scott DS and Kim Jong-un), could be an Xer. Oh, this is so confusing.

But, yeah, I agree. Politicians need to stop hating the young voting market and leave the angry fringe speakers to those who will listen to them.

"The young people worry me. They don't listen to their elders. They ignore tradition. The gods will one day punish them for their actions, assuming they don't bring about the end of our civilization first."
-from an inscription that I heard was found carved on the Great Pyramid at Giza

P.S. Nice clip, Kit. Now, if you're a betting man, I'll take your Four Yorkshiremen and raise you Weird Al Yankovic.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, What's interesting about the Millennials to me is this...

As an Xer, we got the same crap from the Boomers. They wrote article after article about how worthless we were. We were lazy, stupid, unmotivated. We weren't willing to find jobs, let alone careers. We were coddled and were all destined to live in our parents' basements, and we were horribly ungrateful. Worst of all, we weren't hip like they were -- they had Woodstock, we had jack.

That was the gripe against us for years. It was constant. You saw it in article after article written by Boomers. And if it sounds familiar, it should because it's the identical complaint the Boomers are now making against Millennials.

So what happened with Xers? Well, we moved into the work world during a prolonged recession, so we charted our own course. We proved to be highly motivated, competent and risk takers. And I can point to surveys which show that Xers are more respected than anyone (especially Boomers) as managers. Xers are far overrepresented in terms of artistic achievements. We are much more likely to be millionaires and own our own businesses than Boomers. Essentially, as a generation, we became more successful than Boomers and we were never how they described us.

Now we hear the identical attacks on the Millennials. So should we believe them? No. The ones I've met and the numbers I've seen show a very similar course to the course the Xers took. Rather than being dependent and unmotivated, Millennials are striking out on their own to open new businesses -- they are less likely to go into corporate America than any prior generation. They are racking up the artistic achievements and they have a high number of millionaires. They aren't stupid or whiny or easily led either.

So what does this mean? It means that what you hear about them is false. And when these people pick out some headline about some moron and say, "See, that's them!" you should take that with a HUGE grain of salt.

El Gordo said...

Andrew, that is a good point. One should not underestimate the public. I agree conservatives should blame themselves for not having more credibility on the issue.

On the other hand, unlike helmet laws, the majority of regulations are very arcane stuff. The vast majority of people (including myself) can´t see how it affects them. They don´t see how a pipeline or plant that is NOT built will reduce their standard of living. Regulations are like invisible taxes. Invisible because most of the time people don´t see what is behind rising costs and they don´t miss an investment that was never made. So how can they make a choice? It needs to be explained. It is an intellectual argument, and those are easy to lose.

Hypothetic example. Let´s say industry A has already reduced emissions of substance X by 98%. Now liberal politican wants to force them to reduce emissions by half again. This will cost ten billion. Of course there are studies that explain how it will statistically reduce cancer risk. It may only prevent 10 cases per year, but hey, cancer! The regulation may also rid the industry leader (who may be a campaign donor) of unwanted competition. But our liberal politician can still pose as the brave hero who cares for people. To most people it explains itself.

Now what? We have a only a choice of going along or spending our credibility on stopping it. Good luck trying to explain how the sum of bad regulations will create scarcity that will in turn cause more deaths. Defending "evil businesses" will deplete our credibility very soon. And somewhere ten people whose death could have been prevented at a cost of a few hundred bucks will die, not that anyone will notice.

Anonymous said...

That means I could be a Millenial, sure. But it also means that I (along with Scott DS and Kim Jong-un), could be an Xer.

Well, it's nice to be in good company!! :-)

Everything I've read points to 1981-82 being the cut-off and since I was born in 1983, I'm one of the first millennials. I know I'm not a Gen-Xer.

The Wikipedia article on all this is quite fascinating. To some folks, we're also the "9/11 generation." And to others, we're the "boomerang generation" because we're delaying certain life events (though the economy plays a huge role in that).

tryanmax said...

Gordo, I think the regulations as job killers approach is effective and prescient. But you have to be ready to back it up. Lefties get very defensive when that argument is made--they know their position is a loser but they will try to defend it.

The one (childish) retort I hear over and over is, "name one job killed by regulations." So just have one ready to name. If they start saying that regulations will create more jobs, too, appeal to the public--would you rather have more regulatory jobs, or more real jobs? Regulatory jobs are real jobs is a hard position to defend.

tryanmax said...

I feel like it is the prerogative of those born in the cut-off years to decide for themselves which generation they belong to. I'm born in 1980, but I identify more closely with Millennials and always have, even before anybody cared about the difference between Xers and Yzers. My best buddy, born only a month earlier, ID's with Xers more, and we do have trouble understanding each other on many of the points that are said to divide the two groups.

I will lay the credit for the idea at the feet of one who took that approach before me: my mom. By all rights, she's a Silent Generation-er, but she's such a Boomer in spirit, there's no dissuading her. (And Boomers are always eager to swell their ranks.) I feel like I've got a better case than she does, so there's no dissuading me.

Anonymous said...

Well stated, Kit, as well as Andrew and everyone else in the comments. I'm another early 80s kid (83 here), though I never really gave any thought to whether I fit in more as a Millennial or late X. There's not much I think I can add other than how damn frustrating it is to watch the Republicans and conservatives keep doing this sort of stupid stuff. It's all the more frustrating that discussion of how to go about correcting these problems, both in terms of approach and agenda, seems virtually nonexistent outside of this blog. Scott's right, this blog definitely needs more readers and the ideas here need more exposure. I just wonder how long they're going to keep up these self-destructive behaviors and if it's going to be too late by the time they wake up, assuming they do at all.

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, But how does it help in those circumstances to continue in the way we are going? It doesn't. Right now, conservatives are completely ignored on these issues. What I'm taking about gets us back into the game.

Consider this. What you've identified is likely the most difficult circumstance to fight. The key to winning those arguments is to find a way to tell people that the cost truly is not worth the benefit. But the ONLY way to win that argument is if you are more credible than the other guy because people need to believe that you don't have an ulterior motive in what you're telling them, i.e. they need to believe you are speaking truthfully and accurately and presenting the whole truth.

Unfortunately, conservatives go out of their way to make themselves out as people who deny genuine dangers. In fact, it's become a point of ideological pride. This also gets reinforced by the chest thumping and mocking that people like Rush do. We have no credibility because of that.

The only thing saving us from being more like Europe is that our public at large is more independent. They don't trust the left either because they see the left as Chicken Littles. So when the left raises something, the public says, "Let's see the proof." If they can produce enough proof, the public goes with it. If not, then they don't.

In a normal circumstance, they would ask us our views as they consider the evidence. But they've come to see us as asshole who want to laugh at their problems and who spout biased industry BS, so they don't bother.

What I'm talking about is regaining our lost credibility by ending our fighting against genuine dangers, stopping our industry lap-dogism, and ending our mocking of the public's concerns. If we do that, then we can get back into the debate, and we can win arguments like the one you mention rather than needing to hope the public can see through the left's argument on their own.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, El Gordo, the argument should never be "this is bad for business." The public doesn't care about businesses. The argument needs to be "this is bad for the public."

Again, this is symptomatic of recent conservative problems. All of our arguments these days relate to economics, numbers and corporate balance sheets. We need to start thinking in terms of human beings... voters.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Daniel and tryanmax, On the Xers v. Millennials, there is a very strong line of demarcation a few years young than me. I still recall the first time I ran into Millennials when I was working. Not only did they have different tastes and different views on a ton of things, but it was like we had been raised in entirely different cultures. They hadn't seen the same films, same television shows, listened to the same music or read the same books. It was shocking to me that they were so completely different because I'd never experience that with any other generation. Even the Silent Generation had more in common with us Xers than the Millennials did.

Now, over time, that's mellowed, but it was a real shocker at the time.

tryanmax said...

Well that very much settles it for me. World history for me still very much starts in 1980. I'm saying I'm proud of it, and I think I've gotten better; that's just how it is.

AndrewPrice said...

That's interesting. To borrow your phrase, world history began with World War II when I was growing up. That's when the school history books stopped and when "the modern world" began -- films, television, currently famous people got their fame in the 1940s, and everyone had an uncle who served in WWII.

Kit said...


"I still recall the first time I ran into Millennials when I was working. Not only did they have different tastes and different views on a ton of things, but it was like we had been raised in entirely different cultures."

How so, exactly?

Kit said...

I would say World History for me, born in 1989, ends with the end of the Cold War. The earliest memories I have of political/historical events were the Clinton re-election and the Centennial Park Bombing. Both in 1996.

I remember reading about the OK City Bombing but much later.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, "They hadn't seen the same films, same television shows, listened to the same music or read the same books."

My first political memory was Carter v. Ford and the anger at Ford for pardoning Nixon.

Kit said...

"My first political memory was Carter v. Ford and the anger at Ford for pardoning Nixon."

Eh, I cried because Clinton was up for reelection. I never liked change as a kid. I would go into mourning when parent's traded a car for a new one.

tryanmax said...

Yeah, I was part of the group for whom history wasn't really even a school subject. We had social studies instead, which was heavily focused on current events. What history we got was Columbus through the Revolution, over and over again. To break the monotony, we had Nebraska studies every few years.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Change is the one constant in life.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, We rarely got history either and it was usually Columbus through Revolution as well... with a little Manifest Destiny thrown in now and then. I can't image Nebraska studies. "We came, we farmed. The end."

Anonymous said...

If we're talking where world history began for me, three events seem to mark it for me: vague memories of the Challenger explosion as a little kid, the First Gulf War when I was a little older, and the reunification of Germany. My now-former stepfather was in the Army and me and my mom moved overseas when he was stationed in then-West Germany, so the declaration of the Gulf War felt personal and being there for the reunification of Germany made it feel like I there for something big. Like tryanmax Social Studies was the closest I had to history for a while, and aside from the aforementioned Columbus-American Revolution period there was also some coverage of the Civil War and World Wars in school, particularly WWII.

I'm still not sure which generation I relate to, though thinking about it a bit more I'm affected more by some of the Millennials' problems than anything. The aforementioned discussion about the cost of college and what Koshcat said about his brother remaining on the career ground floor are two of the biggest headaches I deal with. I don't know if I've noticed any huge differences between my outlook and those of other generations aside from finding a lot of my grandparents' ideas a bit odd and a feeling of "Holy crap I'm getting old" when I see kids born in the 90s in their early 20s or so. The whole feeling of getting old is doubled when I hear the Black Crowes, REM, Soundgarden, and other bands from back then played on the classic rock station I listen to as well, heh. Also sometimes things like Smartphones and their apps, GPS devices for cars, and similar things feel alien to me as well. Make what you will of that!

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, The first time it hit me that I was getting old was hearing "Guns and Roses" on Musak in an elevator. Arrrg. And then watching the NFL Draft and thinking, "Why are they drafting children? Didn't these guys used to look older?"

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. My earliest memories of Germany include riding my bicycle on an empty highway that had been cut in half by a fence to mark the line between East and West Germany. Eerie.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I didn't get a chance to visit East Germany until a year or two after the reunification, so I never saw anything like that, but the contrast was pretty jarring. I remember seeing a lot of desolate patches around the old border, not to mention the filthy, depressing look of Berlin and Dresden. A more pleasant memory of my German travels that you might appreciate, though, was a shop called Donutland in the Vogelweh/Ramstein Air Base area! We'd always get a big box of donuts when we went up there and I still remember how good their cream and jelly donuts in particular were! Not many of those kind of donuts I've had since then have quite measured up to the ones from Donutland.

- Daniel

BevfromNYC said...

Kit - I would like to applaud you for such an interesting discussion!

My memory is sitting in a darkened classroom watching John Glenn circumnavigate the planet Earth on a black & white television, the entire Gemini and Apollo missions, landing on the moon. It was a time when we learned history...our Founders, the Constitution, Liberty Hall, WWII and the Holocaust and the greatness of our democratic system. We were embroiled in the Vietnam War and social unrest and hippy counter culture. We were the generation that fought for the right to vote at 18. If they could send us to fight the war, we should have the right to vote for who sends us there and for the right to legally drink alcohol at 18 though that didn't last very long. We ended the draft.

You remember the end of the Cold War...I remember duck and cover drills and my new elementary school built to protect children from "nuclear attack" because of the nuclear threat in the middle of the Cold War. I remember the real Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King. I remember the doctor my father sponsored who had escaped Czechoslovakia in 1968 when Soviet tanks appeared on her street and her stories escaping in the dead of night with her family.

We were the first generation who took the polio can thank me now Jonas Salk was our parents' hero. We got to play with toy guns and rode our bicycles without helmets and climb trees and jumped on trampolines and broke our bones and skinned our elbows and knees with no threat of pending litigation.

Yes, I am tooting the horn for Boomers, but you don't have to deal with many things because WE made many of those worries obsolete. I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass you...;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Boomer Bev, It has been an interesting conversation. :)

I think we Xers were the last generation to be able to play on trampolines and ride bikes and break our bones without lawsuits... as we listened to disco. That seemed to end in the early 1980s... both disco and a lawsuit free world. I'm shocked how overprotective parents are today.

Vaccines are amazing and it drives me nuts that people today want to interfere with them. Speaking of disease, we were the AIDS generation. It was all over the news as I was growing up. We also knew the government was playing politics with it.

We were also on the cusp of the computer. We were the first to get them in the classroom... sort of... and we hit the business world right before they started appearing on desks everywhere.

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I saw it up close in the mid-1970s, though we weren't allowed to cross. Then in 1992, I saw it again. This time we crossed over and drove to Dresden. I wish people could have seen what they did to that country. It was stunning. All these leftists who hate capitalism should have been made to live there in the decayed buildings, drink the polluted water, breathe the polluted air. Horrific.

BevfromNYC said...

X-er Andrew - We had parents who let run with scissors and touch hot stuff so that we would know what "hot" meant. We watched Westerns, but not the evening news because it was too graphic. We were the generation that GAVE you computers in the classroom...;-) And velcro so you didn't have to learn to tie your shoes! And we were the first generation to die from the scourge of AIDS...we GAVE you Disco for God's sake!!! We waited in line for gas. We walked to school in the snow...uphill...both ways! Bow to our superiority.

BevfromNYC said...

And we lived with the scourge of "pop rocks and Coca-cola exploding in our mouths" deaths everywhere!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, We Xers are not the enemy. There's only like 12 of us. It's these 500 billion Millennials you need to watch our for. ;-P

As an aside, I recall waiting in line for gas too. Good times. Actually, as a kid you had no idea this was a bad thing... it just was.

Thanks for Disco. :) You can keep the velcro.

Sadly, we were banned from running with scissors. Our freedoms were already clearly eroding. That said, we did still have lawn darts and toys that shot things across the room... small things that will choke a 2 year old.

AndrewPrice said...

Ohh, we heard rumors about you people blowing your heads off with the pop rocks, but I don't recall ever getting my hands on any.

BevfromNYC said...

You know, growing up with people who lived through the Depression and rationing during WWII, we accepted gas rationing in the '70's as patriotic.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriotism didn't really enter our lexicon until Reagan came around. It was hard to feel patriotic in the era of Jimmy Carter, gas lines, disco, leisure suits, bowl cuts, and platform shoes.

Kit said...

"Change is the one constant in life."
Alas it is.

As for leisure suits. What the hell was America thinking in the 70s? Really, how could anyone think leisure suits and bulky polyester jackets looked good?

On anyone.

tryanmax said...

I'm not sure that patriotism has yet entered the Millennial lexicon. Patriotic is something that other people are. I'm not sure how the average Millennial would respond to being asked whether they were patriotic. Probably a casual 'yes' w/o much thought behind it.

Kit said...

Well, Millennials remember 9/11 when a huge wave of patriotism swept over the county... followed by it taking 10 years to both kill the mastermind and begin rebuilding the World Trade Center (its still not completed). As well as an Iraq War and Afghanistan War seeming turning into a quagmire (Fallujah is now under Al-Qaeda rule, again) and, just as we were entering the work force, the economy going to pots.
Then there is that government feat of boondoggling, Hurricane Katrina.

Kit said...

The general vibe I get right now is "malaise".

tryanmax said...

Kit, that's the thing. What exactly did all the post 9/11 patriotism mean or accomplish or whatever? The whole thing was confused from the beginning. W. told everyone to go out and buy stuff, which struck me and those around me as odd. (I was halfway through college at the time.) But it didn't occur to anyone that it was foolish or a distraction or should be upsetting until much later. Flag pins and yellow ribbon car magnets proliferated. I actually took to taking the magnets off of one car and placing them on another b/c who would do such a thing? I got a kick out of imagining that my targets were interpreting the act as politically motivated. So, yeah, if I'm any indication, then Millennials regard the whole patriotism thing with bemusement.

AndrewPrice said...

What you Millennials are missing is the Carter years. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, we got to see the difference between a demoralized, failing, unpatriotic country that thought it was in the wrong and didn't see a real future versus a vibrant, proud country that felt it was in the right and could achieve anything. It was very easy to be patriot after Reagan restored our country from the blight of the Carter years.

Kit said...


I think there has not been anyone pushing "love of country" big nationally. Bush tried but aside from his moment with the bullhorn, he rarely was able to do it well nationally.

Then there were the white trash "'MERIKA!" hicks...

Yeah, Patriotism is sadly more associated with "'MERICA, F--K YEAH!" instead of a deeper love of country.

As an aside, I think the most patriotic movie of the last decade was Pursuit of Happyness. (John Adams was a mini-series)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The white trash types aren't patriotic. They use patriotism as a proxy for exclusivity. For them, patriotism is about being white and populist, and if you ain't one oh us, then you ain't a reel 'merikan.

Real patriotism, as seen in the past, was pride in country, not anger at anyone outside the club. It was inclusive. It was the smile you got when some American solved some problem the world faced or when you met an immigrant who told you how he's worked his whole life to come here and he just opened his own shop. It was about feeling good that our country was succeeding and was the envy of the world.

tryanmax said...

Certainly being a child in the 80s while Reagan was president and then a teen during the Clinton years--when patriotism became a tad suspect-- might have contributed to making patriotism seem a little childish. And then to be told as a young adult to get patriotic again. Yeah, the confusion is starting to make sense to me now.

Kit said...


You are right, white trash hicks have done more damage to racism than leftists ever could. Leftists may have sneered at it but the hicks turned it into a joke.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Let me add something to the mix for you. Things changed under Clinton. We essentially entered the second Gilded Age where the government stopped caring about the people and instead because a pillaging machine for the well-connected. This continued under Bush and Obama. So for the past 15+ years, it's been hard to be patriotic when the government doesn't represent you.

At the same time, both left and right have gone insanely anti-America to the point that both are essentially traitorous movements... yet both hide behind being the only "reel" patriots. So again, I can see where it would be hard to feel too patriotic at the moment.

EricP said...

Kit, I say this out of genuine respect for you as an exception to the rule for most of what experience I've had with your generation -- and as someone I sincerely miss posting in Threedonia-land -- but really hope Gavin McInnes' dead-on take on millennials on tonight's Red Eye didn't get under your skin too much. Again, said with true respect to you, but I thought Bev said it perfectly with the earning respect thing I've seen far too many in your generation having trouble grasping. I don't know how much that stems from millennials being the generation brought up as the "participation trophy" generation, through no fault of their own pumped full of ADHD drugs to keep sedated, but I can't imagine that helping matters.

Never mind me as a general rep of the Gen X'ers, though, eagerly awaiting the Boomers to allow us a chance at upper-management while the millennials breathe up our rearview with their superior social media savvy.

"Caught between tomorrow and yesterday, between now and then."

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, If you want some Boomers out of the way, you may have to push. The widespread Boomer economic strategy of "spend everything I earn and then some" seems to have backfired and they won't be retiring.

Kit said...


Thank you for replying. I am glad that you read my post.

I guess what my post is trying to say is that politicians (except in rare circumstances) need not be in the business of trying to tell them to grow up. And it only works if you establish first that you care about them. Conservative pols have not done that. Reagan did (he won the young vote).

Second, I can say there is good and bad in every generation, uncluding the Millennials, My brother is working to e become pastor. One of my high school classmates is a firefighter, another is going to become a doctor. There are some bad ones (mostly potheads) but again, same is true of every generation.

Again, thanks Eric. Hope things are going well.

darski said...

It would be my guess that millennials are too smart to ever vote for a Republican. Granted they are voting for evil but it is better than voting for the evilly stupid!

The only people Repubs really hate are repubs. The sooner the Rep party dies the better for the US.

tryanmax said...

Not sure what Gavin McInnes said that was so profound? His entire rant against Millennials was: "They are lazy. They're over-educated, they have huge egos, no experience and they are lazy."

Not sure how over-educated pairs with lazy and, since the whole segment was about how hilarious it is to not hire Millennials who come to interview, the no experience charge was in a very disingenuous context.

As to bringing parents to the job interview, that's just f-ing weird and--if it happened at all--must've been an oddball occurrence that they decided to play way, way up. Though I will admit to having shown my parents my office once I was in a job because they were interested. Millennials don't have a generational interest in shutting their parents out, which I'm sure must be very difficult for Boomers to understand.

tryanmax said...

I will cede that we may have large egos, but in the context of a job interview, aren't you supposed to act confident?

AndrewPrice said...

I've heard the thing about parents calling employers, but I've never seen it in real life, I don't know anyone who has actually seen it in real life or who knows anyone who has seen it in real life. Nor have I ever met a Milliennial who said they thought that was acceptable. So it's either an urban legend or it's incredibly rare. And in either event, it's absolutely unfair to attribute this to the Millennial generation.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of myth talk radio latches onto when they smear Millennials.

AndrewPrice said...

Boomer Bev and Millennial tryanmax, I think we should all make giant robots and let them battle it out in an arena to see who's right! :D

...what? Don't people do that anymore?

EricP said...

Good points tryanmax, I just found Gavin's comments his usual hilarious, nothing overly deep.

To your ego point, I'm going to pull a DJ callback move to my "participation trophy" nod. Ego, at least as I learned about about building it, comes from experience + accomplishments, genuine accomplishments, not the "everybody gets a ribbon" variety. There's also a key component to confidence I was taught (way back when) in my modeling days, something the millennials I know could heed: don't let it cross the thin line into arrogance.

Further to the "lazy" label, the millennials are also the first I've known to not take an affront to being called that. Used to be a time when someone would get pissed, turn their energies to proving the other person wrong. Guess that reaction disappeared out the escape hatch with shame as a motivator. Que sera sera.

tryanmax said...

Eric, I don't know how you don't see that Millennials are collectively pissed about being called lazy. By most definitions, more than half the generation is still in high school and college. As to the remainder, I note a lot of circular arguments being used to make the lazy claim. For example, they take work they are over educated for, they aren't ambitious, but if they hold out for better or want to get ahead, they are arrogant. Everyone is playing heads I win, tails you lose against the Millennials.

AndrewPrice said...

So no robot combat?

tryanmax said...

No, my battle droid is in the shop. Sorry.

AndrewPrice said...


In all seriousness, I do want to point one thing out in response to Eric's comment. The response of proving someone wrong only kicks in when you have a certain level of respect for the person making the accusation. When you find yourself unfairly judged over and over and over and constantly insulted, the normal response is actually to tune those people out... not to set out to prove them wrong.

This is something conservatives are mistaking with all these groups -- young women, Millennials, Hispanics, Blacks -- they've stopped listening because they don't see any benefit to trying to prove conservatives wrong. So they shrug their shoulders and walk away. Unfortunately, too many conservatives mistake their silence for consent when it's actually contempt.

And if you want an example, ask yourself every time OWS or MSNBC called you racist or sexist or whatnot, did you run out and try to prove them wrong or did you just write them off as fools? Same thing here.

EricP said...

With certain exceptions, I see them far more pissed off with not being recognized for, well, nothing of substance, a result primarily of having lived most their lives coddled for just showing up. I'm also admittedly a little tweaked by the amount of times I've had friends in their mid-20s ask for advice about why/when I made the switch to conservatism, only to be rebuffed when referring them to Larry Elder's "10 Things You Can't Say in America." "Whaaaa, I have to read?" Yes, I know it's wrong to lump so many in because of these ladies, but combine it with the amount of low-information voters with a similar mindset, and it gets frustrating from my perspective, too.

Dammit, just bring on the battlebots! ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Battlebots it is!

EricP said...

"Ladies" was supposed to be "lazies." Ahhhh, my first encounter with auto-spell ...

tryanmax said...

Eric, in other words, the Millennials were tweaked that you wouldn't give them a direct answer. I gotta tell you, the message that would send to me is that you don't want to talk about it or have nothing to say for yourself. It feels like a brush off.

I'm beginning to realize that there is a different understanding of what "lazy" means before and after the Millennial divide. "Go look it up," is not something you want to say to a Millennial because, odds are, they already have (online), and now they are coming to you for interpretation or discussion. When you say that, it paints you as the lazy one in their eyes because you don't want to engage. (It's hard not to feel smug when all your superiors are advertizing themselves as lazy while calling you the same.)

As to the recognition thing, generationally we feel like we are beating our heads against a wall. The participation ribbon thing has been way oversold--it's justification for denying that we've done anything. (You put in an extra 80 hours this month to finish the project early and under budget? What do you want, a participation trophy?) The college degree was supposed to prove something. The internship was supposed to prove something. The (college requisite) extracurriculars were supposed to prove something. The temp job was supposed to prove something. The night manager gig was supposed to prove something. The community service was supposed to prove something. Apparently it only proves that we are chumps.

Battlebots, engage!

tryanmax said...

Also, the participation ribbons weren't even our idea! We were kids! But we weren't stupid. We all noticed the kid who won got a shiny blue ribbon with gold letters while the rest of us got these weird olive green things.

EricP said...

Oh, jeez, I also explained why I loved the book, specifying the key points on how influential it was getting the lib-fuzz from my head. I can't quote the entire book, though. ;-)

tryanmax said...

Eric, my mistake, but I wasn't going to infer anything. IDK what to make of it then. Maybe they really don't like reading, but that's certainly not a Millennial thing.

I'm still sending my battle bot after yours, though.

BevfromNYC said...

Darn..I want battlebots! My Boomer-bot will so destroy your Millie-bots!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! :D

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