Different factions in the United States of America don’t agree on all kinds of things. That’s nothing new.
One thing we all can agree on, though, is that 2020 has been a year for the ages. Especially for the younger ages — from Gen X to Gen Z.
This is one of those unforgettable periods in history that they will be telling stories about to their children and grandchildren for decades to come.
And let’s not kid ourselves. There will be plenty among those storytellers whose tall tales will veer off the road of reality, skidding into fantasy land.
Instead of Aesop’s Fables, they will pass down to future citizens Trump’s Fables, including the most famous one, which will go something like this … Biden the Bad rallied gremlins from the land of Deep Doo-Doo to steal the election from the courageous warrior king who regaled his subjects with larger-than-life lies, and was revered and feared as Don MAGA, accompanied by sultry and shadowy Lady MAGA.
Yes, the election is finally, thankfully behind us, but not all are thankful. The verbal warfare between people of sharply different views continues at warp speed.
What does this mean for our younger generations, especially Millennials and Gen Z? There is a very uncertain future about to unfold before our eyes, and it is the younger generations — in the prime of their careers and their lives — who will have the most to think about.
Where do we go from here, and how do we get there?
KEEP AMERICA SAFE
The young ones will need to come up with the hard answers for keeping America safe for their descendants — and for democracy, which has taken a big hit in this election, as we listen to persistent lies about election fraud that nobody has been able to prove. Even elite law firms hired by the White House have thrown in the towel, saying they want no part of a charade that delegitimizes our democratic process. Thank goodness for their integrity in this case.
Joe Biden pulled in the largest vote total in the history of American elections, with nearly 80 million ballots cast for him. The incumbent amassed about 74 million votes, the second most in U.S. election history.
In a deeply unsettling way, a case can be made that it was voter apathy that helped the incumbent win that many votes.
Let me explain the apathy theory as it applies to some — though not all — Trump voters.
To want four more years of Trump was to consciously suspend any moral judgment. He indulges himself by throwing ethics and integrity under the bus every chance he gets, at the country’s expense. He constantly challenges the way our democracy has worked — for some 250 years.
PUSHING BACK ON BIDEN
For those who continue to defend all things Trump, they will do their best to push back against the Biden administration on just about anything it tries to accomplish.
They will continue to live in their United States of Trump of the mind. “He won almost half the vote!” they’ll exclaim. Or they will continue to embrace the flat-out falsehood that their 70-something candidate won more votes than the other 70-something candidate.
The number of votes won by the loser doesn’t change the outcome. No amount of votes can transform bald-faced lies into simple truths, or excuse the unethical behavior of claiming election fraud when you know there is none, which insults the founding fathers’ democratic principles on which we rely for our freedom.
So where does that leave this country as we head into 2021 and beyond?
And what was this election really about?
The faces of the election were Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Beyond the candidates, though, this election was a choice between the past and the future.
You might even say it was a choice between the Boomers’ ruling class and the younger generations’ rising class, as they move into position to take over and remake the country in their own image.
Yes, I’m a Boomer, but I pride myself on being the Millennial Baby Boomer®. That means I learn from the past so I can make the most of the future. I’m all about change. It energizes me.
I have no patience for Boomers without the imagination to welcome what’s new and exciting in the world.
LIFE BEGINS AT 30
I have no patience for Millennials and Gen Z who think their life is over by 30 if their career hasn’t taken off yet.
If you wait for good things to happen, you could be waiting a long time. Then it’s too late. Make things happen around you! That’s what just happened, as millions of young voters made President-elect Biden happen!
If you’ve convinced yourself America was much better in the past — things like women without the right to vote, human beings owned as property by other human beings, European immigrants marginalized when they settled here — then you are partial to the dog-whistle message of “Make America Great Again,” as if our country should restore all those so-called “great” things we’ve left behind, for good reason. They were undemocratic.
On the other hand, if you’re passionate in your belief that progress is possible only through change — the rise of multi-culturalism, managing climate change, the morphing of gender identity, universal health care, renewable energy, protecting human rights — then you saw the election as a referendum on 21st Century culture, in a “battle for the soul of America.”
Joe Biden’s motto easily could have been “Make America Boring Again.” It’s precisely that low-key normalcy and discipline and sense of clear-eyed calm that won him the election.
So what happens now?
Nobody knows. It’s a mixed bag. Even if your choice at the top of the ticket prevailed, the strong performance by Trump allies in the Congressional races and state legislatures tell a starkly different story that will further embolden people who support everything Trump.
That Trumpian triumph can’t be discounted. Neither can the fact that this was one of the rare times in history that an incumbent President was rejected in his bid for re-election by a majority of voting Americans.
The future belongs to Millennials and Gen Z and the generations following them. It’s up to all of them to decide what happens next, which I applaud and stand ready to help with, through the mutual mentoring I specialize in with members of those generations.
My advice is to pay close attention to the elderly politicians who are front and center. That way, you’ll kow who are not your role models.
Instead, look to those who instill hope in the future for forming a more equitable country. Consider the amazing achievement of Kamala Harris — the first woman, the first woman of color, and the first woman of Asian descent elected to the Vice Presidency. She broke three glass ceilings simultaneously!
She has paved the way for the first woman President of color. Her election is a quantum jump toward that eventuality.
Within the next four decades, it’s projected that women of color will comprise more than half of America’s female population, so the votes will be baked into the cake.
BE VOCAL LOCAL
In the meantime, if you want to make a difference, it all starts at the local level. Get involved in your town or city, or at the state level. That’s how the Trump loyalists built their power base and won all those seats in Congress this past election.
Like they say, all politics is local, so that’s where you can make the fastest impact.
Stand up, have a conviction, speak out, and inspire others to work with you. Start to change what you think is unfair or unhealthy for the republic.
When you disagree with someone, don’t insult or dismiss their identities as part of the debate. Our ethnic differences are our strength as a nation. They are not to be mocked, but celebrated.
Debate ideas, not identiies.
Vote for the person, not for the party.
Perhaps the best thing the younger generation could accomplish is to call out the counter-productive two-party system.
Party faithful on either side of the aisle are not encouraged to think independently or boldly. They are conditioned to act like sheep, to keep in lockstep with party leaders, to curse compromise. It’s the politics of fear and insecurity.
Here is some timely advice we all should take to heart, no matter who we voted for … “I have learned to put my faith in my fellow citizens, especially the next generation.”
I totally agree with those words of wisdom. Their author embodies the last time decency and dignity lived in the White House — Barack Obama.
It’s time to ensure we don’t lose sight of what is most important — trust, integrity, ethics, honesty and caring about people, both now and for our future.