The term “Millennial” was something guaranteed to make me cringe just a few months ago. Now, at the ripening age of 28, I sit at a table across from beers and friends, and relish in our new class power; or, more often, wonder where that class power went? Did it even exist?
There is something about the act of leaving college and watching your twenties roll over that imbues a brand new certain-kind-of-wanting-to-belong. (Sidenote: Ugh, will that feeling ever end? I need to speak to whoever is in charge, like, immediately.) It’s an alienating feeling not far from those hyperventilated breaths I exhaled when packing up for my first apartment or when moving to a new city. But politics is serious business. This is adult stuff here and the kids table is that-a-way. And no, Gloria Steinem, we’re not here for the boys. Maybe that’s why my friends and I have started to rethink “Millennial” and wear it like a battle scar, or more pertinent: a badge of honor. We are, after all, the generation of needless trophies.
My mother talks about being a Baby Boomer with a kind of idyllic, dizzying pride. The protests, the sexual revolution—and the part where her eyes really light up—the revolt against authority. I am my mother’s daughter through and through. Naturally, this made things *kinda tense* when she told me last May that Bernie should be Hillary’s Vice President.
Of course, I want a woman to be president. Of course, it’s of vital importance. Of course, it’s so close I can taste it. That’s what makes it so hard when we are just so damn close with Hillary. But really, the choice is easy. I already made this decision in 2008, when I voted for Obama. Didn’t all of America already make this choice?
That’s why I get when women like Catherine Liu talk about arguing with her father about Hillary Clinton. I am female, southern, and above all; sympathetic to the “working class”. Writers like Amber A’Lee Frost have already pointed out that the battle within the Democratic party about Hillary Clinton is not about gender, but rather, class.
Pictured: Millennial Brat
Sometimes over beers I argue with friends about things like politics. I’m not sure if this has made me a member of the grown-ups table yet, but I’d like to believe that that’s the case when we manage to quietly not argue over the check at Happy Hour. We’re all looking for our place at the table. One dear friend, Tim, likes to drink and say “You do you.” It’s his mantra. I call it his personal three-word-philosophy. I guess on one end, it sounds completely Millennial, a kind of unrepentant individualism that’s both ruggedly American and nauseatingly youthful. But “you do you” encapsulates so much more for me: there’s an audience that’s outside of oneself and, also, the completely real and tangible ability to act (Who is this “you?” Can I have their phone number? You should phone bank for Bernie.). I noticed he shared a meme the other day from New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, that read: “You be you.” You BE you. But Mr. Mayor: I want more than just a mere existence. I want to be all-up-in that action. I want to tell my grandkids I was all-up-in that action.
In college, I spent the summer of 2007 campaigning for Obama in South Carolina. I schlepped between rallies in nearby cities, called everyone in the state, painted signs, and had my fair share of doors slammed in my face (“Ari, this is a red neighborhood. Are you sure you want to go to a red neighborhood?”). I even managed to get Mom to drive down with me to Charleston and un-photogentically (or possibly, begrudgingly) hold a campaign sign at an Obama rally.
Pictured: Photogenic Mom
I am a Millennial. I grew up dancing to Madonna. No–scratch that–I wanted to be Madonna. But we are living in a Hillary World and I am a Bernie Girl. I get all the marketing shticks. I hate all the marketing shticks. I use this thing called “the internet” (because cable is expensive, yo, and also; diversity of opinions). The internet simultaneously informs me and deludes people like my mother, who has every toolbar ever (!) created installed on the version of Internet Explorer she runs at home on her Dell. But let’s not forget the important things: she knows how to burn her own music CD’s.
In fact, during the South Carolina Democratic Primary this past February, my mother made sure to text me: “I voted for Bernie.” She described it as “surreal”. I clung to that word because it reminded me so much of the ideas I fought for during the Obama election in 2008: hope, change, blah, blah, blah. Call me a naïve optimist, but if good ideas can’t win, then I’ll sit this one out, again, like many other esteemed peers my age did during Obama’s 2012 re-election. But after lots of heated texts and the occasional phone call, my mom managed to change her mind. Maybe, just maybe, I am my mother’s daughter. I want my teeny, tiny, little vote to feel like a dream.
Oh, if only the Bernie fans would just give it up already! Let’s not forget some of those fans campaigned for Obama. Let’s not forget, some of those diehard Bernie supporters make up a new buying class currently struggling for the ability to buy.
What could be greater than telling my kids or grandkids one day that we made the right decision? Maybe it’s no surprise that Bernie consistently leads among Millennials. I heard on the radio at the bar that the Republican party is split, but yet, Hillary has this in the bag. I sip my beer with friends. I remember that a college degree is worth less if you are poor and then consider what great equalizer we need to rectify this (Where is it? Can I speak to the manager?). For me, that spot has always started at a table with beers and friends. Deep inside, there’s a Millennial whispering, let’s bridge that gap, America. Your vote matters. That feels like the American Dream.