Candidly, I’ve always kind of liked the term “millennial.” It was harrowing to come of age at the turn of the millennium. Remember the overhyped Y2K virus? We didn’t know whether the world as we knew it would still exist after “00” replaced “99” in the date fields of computer memories. Somehow, though, we survived — and lived to claim the name “millennial,” an apt tribute to our hardiness.
Forget that label, though: President Barack Obama has rebranded us. To him, we’re “Gen44.” Expanded, that means we’re the generation that elected him as the nation’s 44th president. Can you say, “hubris,” anyone? It’s almost like pleading to restart the calendar with 2008 as 1 Anno Obama.
At any rate, here’s his message to us, which I’m happy to pass along only because I know I’ll have the immediate chance to respond to it:
One way or another, we’ll be remembered as the generation that presided over the start of a new era. That comes with the territory of living at the dawn not just of a century, but of an entire 1,000-year period. What we must decide — and we must decide it now, in 2012 — is whether we want the era over which we preside to be one of individual freedom and prosperity or control by the state and a diminished standard of living. The choice really is that stark.
Fortunately, in the past three years, millennials have learned the wages of their support for Obama. Under Obama, wages are practically nonexistent, as youth unemployment has hovered at nearly double the national rate. Currently, it’s at 15.8 percent. That doesn’t even take into account that, in 2010, the Labor Department recorded the lowest youth labor force participation rate in history. The Young America Foundation’s Youth Misery Index — a combined measure of youth unemployment, the national debt per capita and average graduating student debt — has grown 17 percent while Obama has been in office.
The youth vote is not a lock for Obama. Hence, the nervousness of the Obama campaign, which continues to target millennials with new branding. This is the third iteration of Obama outreach to millennials. Remember “Greater Together“? Obama’s summer jobs program?
In both instances, the campaign supplied a hashtag to accompany the initiative (#greatertogether and #wecantwait). In both instances, conservatives hijacked the hashtag with witty tweets. (“Peanut butter and jelly #greatertogether.” “#Wecantwait to approve the Keystone pipeline.” That sort of thing.) Predictably, they did it again with the president’s latest new media campaign. Check out the #Gen44 hashtag for some excellent examples of all the president hasn’t done for the millennial generation.