A Message to Millennials
Much is being made of the political ramifications of a recent report on Millennials from the Pew Research Center. But instead of conservatives wringing our hands about what to do with these young “Spicolis,” in order to straighten them out, we need more conversation about how we have gotten here. Also, Millennials need a clear understanding of the political choices that they face.
There is much to address with the generation that, more than any other, is responsible for electing Barack Obama leader of the free world – twice. Sadly, this is the case for Millennials who call themselves conservatives as well as their über-liberal counterparts.
First of all, they’ve all been lied to – a great deal, particularly about sex. Such deception is nothing new. It has been going on for millennia. As J.R.R. Tolkien put it nearly three quarters of a century ago, “[t]he dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall. The world has been ‘going to the bad’ all down the ages[.] ... [T]he ‘hard spirit of concupiscence’ has walked down every street, and sat leering in every house, since Adam fell.”
However, growing up in the age of technology that we all enjoy, Millennials have been saturated with sexual propaganda like no other generation. This is significant in that so much of what we debate in the moral realm of our culture centers on sex.
Abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, divorce, pornography, contraception, and the like are ultimately all about sex. For decades now, these issues have been hotly debated everywhere from the dinner table to the Supreme Court of the United States. Far too many Millennials have voted for politicians based solely on where they stand on these matters. Thus, they certainly need and deserve the truth when it comes to these moral issues.
Second, the oft-repeated protest that goes something like “we need to stop legislating morality!” is a tired, foolish, and ignorant complaint. Likewise, and just as foolish and ignorant, is the idea that conservatives can be “socially conservative in their private activities without trying to impose their views on other people.” Why aren’t liberals implored (especially by conservative Millennials) to be socially liberal in their private activities without trying to impose their views on other people?
Conservatives did not ask for these battles. We are not the aggressors in the moral wars. For example, after the Lawrence v. Texas ruling (which overturned the remaining anti-sodomy laws in the U.S.) by the U.S. Supreme Court, most conservatives would have been content with the “live and let live approach.” However, having government “out of the bedrooms” was not good enough for liberals. The assault on marriage began.
Make no mistake about it: someone’s morality is going to rule us. Before shunning the Christian morality (upon which this country was founded), which teaches among many other wonderful things that sex outside marriage is wrong and that marriage is a union of one man and one woman for life, Millennials would do well to examine the evidence.
Many of them need to look no farther than their own upbringing. Millennials are more likely than any other generation in American history to have been brought up in homes that suffered divorce or no marriage at all. The consequences that children endure as a result of their parents divorcing or as a result of growing up in a single-parent home (almost always without a father) or with same-sex parents are tragic and well-documented.
Children of divorce are more likely to be poor, have behavior problems, and use illegal drugs. They are also more likely to struggle academically, suffer depression, and commit suicide. Children born out of wedlock suffer even worse. They are significantly more likely to be poor; they have more health problems; and they have much slower cognitive and social development. Children born out of wedlock achieve significantly less academically as well as occupationally.
These consequences are devastating not only for individuals and families, but for the nation at large. Even liberals realize this, although their solutions, of course, involve bigger government. A case in point is the recent column by DeWayne Wickham on how President Obama “seeks to fix what ails minority males.”
A great many of these minority males were brought up in homes without fathers. Do you think Obama, Wickham, and the like will urge these men not to perpetuate this crisis by fathering children out of wedlock? Do you think traditional marriage – where mothers and fathers are together in the home and both invested in their children – will be part of their solution?
Of course not. Wickham wants another “War on Poverty.” (Because the first one worked so well – evidenced by the record number of Americans on food stamps.) Obama advisor Valarie Jarrett is “pumped up … to have the federal government do all it can to support this effort.” Whenever liberals say “federal support,” it’s time to hide your wallet. Whenever liberals say that they are “pumped up” about “federal support,” it’s time to visit banks in the Caymans.
Even more disturbing are the proposed solutions to “fix” our economy offered up recently by Millennial Jesse Myerson. In what almost seems like satire meant to deride liberals, Myerson presents a socialist smorgasbord that every Millennial “should be fighting for.”
As a solution to unemployment, he proposes government-guaranteed “work for everybody.” Such work would, of course, pay a “living wage,” that, of course, would be determined by the government. “But let’s think even bigger,” Myerson declares as he next suggests Social Security payments for everyone – “universal basic income, in which the government would just add a sum sufficient for subsistence to everyone's bank account every month.” Thus, Myerson amazingly concludes (giving us even more reason to stereotype young liberals as lazy), participation in the labor force would become “truly voluntary, thereby enabling people to get a life.”
After Jonah Goldberg took Myerson to task, Emmett Rensin of the L.A. Times ran to Myerson’s defense. Rensin concluded that “[y]oung leftists like Myerson and myself share a moral outlook that fundamentally differs from conservatives like Goldberg: Freedom, in the most prosperous nation on Earth, must entail the freedom to act without the constant specter of homelessness, hunger and preventable illness.”
In other words, Rensin and his comrades want to live by the pagan “do as thou wilt” philosophy and not have to suffer any consequences for their choices. Or, to paraphrase George Costanza, such “leftists” would prefer to live in the fantasy world of Cosmo Kramer: do nothing, make money without working, mooch food (and health care, etc.) off their neighbors, and have all the sex they want without any of the costs.
All of this raises a question for Millennials – especially those calling themselves conservatives. What do you prefer: to be guided by, and have a government that reflects, principles that place “moral chains” upon our appetites (as Edmund Burke instructs us) in order to help us prevent social and economic crises, or expensive big-government programs to “fix” them? (Immorality is expensive – in more ways than one!) You’re going to have to live with one or the other.
It is folly to pursue politics that take a conservative approach to economic issues and a liberal approach to the moral ones. There is no going halfway here. It’s time for Millennials who want to be conservatives to be big boys and girls and swallow the whole pill. Conservatives cannot leave our morality at the door when it comes to issues involving sex. The moral arguments in favor of sound fiscal policy (“It is no act of charity to be generous with someone else’s money.”) are rooted in the same morality that teaches us that marriage is a union of one man and one woman and that killing a child in the womb is wrong.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World.