Sorry. I tricked you.
I'm not going to compare all 435 members of Congress with classic 90s TV characters. I used that headline to get your attention because Millennials will only talk politics if we reduce the conversation to nostalgic pop-culture references. And cats.
For instance, here's a recent BuzzFeed piece over one million of us gobbled up:
I want to laugh at the idea of our latest budget battle as a Lindsay Lohan flick. Really, I do. Gen Y does the snarky, too-cool-for-school brand of comedy so well. Come to think of it, we are the nation's Mean Girls. Credit Jon Stewart with conditioning us to roll our eyes and rip whatever crisis spews from Washington. Now, the student has become the master.
Here's the rub: All this mockery has created a generation that largely disrespects the political process. Who can blame us? Boehner, Reid et al. routinely get nothing done and look like petty schoolchildren in the process. So instead of confronting the (dismal) direction our nation is headed, we're off in the corner cracking jokes.
But Millennials are not just a peanut gallery. The indecision in DC affects us too, and that $17 trillion in debt ain't goin' away. If we intend to fix this mess, then we'd better pay attention. How else can we learn to:
- Tackle tough issues head-on and not "kick the can down the road;"
- Be willing to give a little -- even on an issue we believe in deeply -- to reach compromise, and;
- Spend only what we have; surely a generation overwhelmed by student debt should be keeping close watch.
The Daily Show, The Onion, BuzzFeed and all the rest are ideal places to riff on the absurdity of Capitol Hill. But if those are the only ways you engage with the news, then you'll continue to view our country as a big joke and not a place worth fixing. Can you imagine another 50 years of budget shutdowns and showdowns? I shudder at the thought.
America needs Millennials to take meticulous notes and be damn sure we get things right when it is our turn to run the show. To keep watch on Washington, of course read top political stories on HuffPost. Then try Kicker (abbreviated round-ups of the day's biggest headlines) and PolicyMic (insightful opinion by Millennials). Toss in News To Live By twice a week to explore career advice and leadership lessons *hidden* in top stories (free eBook for email subscribers).
Check out this list for more sites that cover current events in a language Gen Y understands.
I'm not asking you to be a policy wonk and memorize Congressional lingo like RINO and a "clean" spending bill. You don't need to follow President Obama's hectic schedule or speculation on the 2040 presidential race (no, seriously).
What you must do -- what we all must do -- is recognize the poor behavior set before us by lawmakers and ensure we pretty much do the opposite every single time. The only way to do that is to stay informed and attuned.
Millennials shouldn't spend our entire lives in a country riddled by debt and completely incapable of governing itself.
If that happens, then the ultimate joke is on us.
Do you think Millennials are losing the ability to take our country (and its problems) seriously?
Follow Danny Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DannyHRubin