Guest Post by Leilani Reyes
Is it possible for Biden and Millennials to get along? Millennials and Gen-Zs turned out in record numbers at the polls last year, giving him that extra boost he needed to win the election. However there seems to be quite a bit of remaining discord and distance between them.
Of course, Biden is 78, and does not seem on the surface to be easily relatable for young people. This week he further proved how little he understands millennials when he announced that he will not be approving the previously suggested $50k in student loans debt per borrower. His arguments against it show a lack of understanding of the severity of the issue for young people who are increasingly pressured to attend college (and go into debt to do so) despite the massive price tag a degree now carries.
The bad rap he gets with millennials has a plethora of causes, but one thing that is often referred to in the discussion is a 2018 interview where he says “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. I have no empathy for it” (see full clip below).
This has been quoted time and time again in reference to Biden’s difficult relationship with Mil-Zs. I’ll admit, it was in bad taste and he probably should’ve known better, but looking at it in context makes it a little more understandable. The point he was trying to make, though not the most concisely put, was that the people of his generation showed up like never before for the civil rights, anti-war, and women’s rights movements and had a passion for public service, whereas Mil-Zs don’t seem to have the taste for it (in his experience). He references his graduation in 1968, a momentous year in United States history that we younger people haven’t quite had a comparison for.
This interview was in 2018. If anything, the events of 2020 have shown that he is wrong, and surely he and many others have taken note. Young people have shown up in droves for the Black Lives Matter movement, have advocated aggressively for voter registration, and turned out at polls like never before. And before that were the annual women’s marches across the country, the March for Our Lives, climate protests of 2019, and the Dreamers rallies. Now there is also the rising push for student debt forgiveness.
Biden grew up in a different America. It may be difficult for him to fully understand the issues that millennials are facing now like increasing education costs, massive wealth inequality, unattainable costs of living, struggles against an exploitative capitalist economy, and much more.
Now he has the opportunity to make positive change and get on the same side as younger Americans, who are rapidly losing faith in a government that seems to pay them little regard. Mil-Zs have so many fights that need fighting, and we need a president who can understand that and back us up in the ring while we still work to get our foot in the door.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Leilani! I am a Long Beach, CA native who grew up with a passion for art and writing and learning more about the world. I’ve spent years doing community service, working on my craft, and now am wandering in search of my next life adventure.