‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’

The resurgence of extremes on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum are indicators that it is time for  rational, patriotic, centrist leadership. I keep hearing about how it’s time for the new generation, aka millennials, to take the reins of leadership from the “old, White men” who have been leading our country. However, perhaps we should pump the brakes on this idea.

First, there’s something to be said for wisdom that can only be gained from experience. We are witnessing what happens when youth is preferred to this wisdom. Even charismatic new House member Ocasio-Cortez has demonstrated missteps in recent weeks, with her plans for a Green New Deal that does not provide specific details on how she proposes to pay and implement such a grand deal. It is this type of inexperience that only supports claims that progressive ideas are empty, nonsubstantive plans put forth to gain popular support with no means for them to come to fruition. Americans do not need more empty outlines, we need specific plans to address issues ranging from the environment and climate change to criminal justice reform, immigration, and our dwindling middle class.   

Second, the hesitation to recognize the hypocritical and bigoted remarks about Jewish Americans and the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, aka Zionism, would be laughable if it didn’t resemble the lead up to some of the most dangerous events in history. Ilhan Omar’s pattern of bigoted tropes should be met with sanction from the halls of Congress. Her affiliation with a particular party should not protect her from the same repercussions that her colleague Steve King, rightfully, faced due to his bigoted remarks celebrating White supremacy. Again, we see leaders acquiescing to the lowest common denominator in a race to the bottom, partially out of fear of losing millenial support. More experienced (and dare I say wise) leaders would be able to convey the dangers of letting a bigot speak for a movement.

Last, patience really is a virtue. There are some things that should (and must) be earned. Yes, the baby boomer generation did a lot of damage to the environment, economic system, economic security, etc. and generations that followed are suffering the consequences of this damage. However, there is a certain level of entitlement that millennials are demonstrating by pushing forward agendas that are lacking wisdom and specifics. One might even say that this ideology resembles a certain political leader who lacks experience and wisdom and is resulting in growing support for dangerous rhetoric.

Of course, I’m biased. I am a proud member of Generation X. I believe that my generation has the potential to play an important and smart role in political and social leadership of our nation. We have earned our stripes, but are still young enough to learn to operate in a 21st century world while acknowledging not only the mistakes of the past, but the successes as well.

About the Author
Brandy Shufutinsky is a social worker, writer, researcher, and advocate. She holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco in International and Multicultural Education and her MSW from the University of Southern California. Brandy has worked towards advancing the rights of victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault within the military community through practice, education, and research. Currently she is working towards developing intercultural and academic opportunities to enhance liberal democratic ideals.