Rebekah Schlessman is not entirely sure whether she belongs to Generation X or Generation Y. But she is sure of one thing: "We are the Pissed-Off Generation and we are not going to take it anymore."
What Schlessman and her peers have had enough of are the decisions of the baby boomers that have left people like her still scrambling to find jobs that match their hard-earned credentials. She and her friends have had enough of watching the planet made more fragile by reckless, unregulated business activities that pursue profit at any cost. They have had enough of self-serving politicians who promise one thing when campaigning and fail to deliver once elected.
She Has Questions
What is so hard about raising the minimum wage when there is no cap on the maximum for the gamblers on Wall Street?
What is so hard about regulating GMOs and making them tell us what they are spraying on their crops or putting in our food?
What is so hard about making sure that companies do the right thing when they clearly won't do it on their own?
How many more companies are going to be left free to deliberately pollute our drinking water --until they literally get caught in the act -- like Duke Energy was?
She Has Expectations
My generation is tired of waiting for better wages.
My friends and I don't want food stamps. We wish we did not need them just to survive. Paul Ryan are you listening?
We are tired of money in politics.
We are tired of "anti-people" politics.
We want clean air, clean water, better public education.
Nobody wants to be on welfare, she argues, and politicians need to stop saying people who are forced to depend on it, do. "It is insulting. I have so many friends who have come back from the wars -- only to go on welfare just to put food on the table. And Paul Ryan's budget cuts SNAP? How cruel is that? If government subsidies are a 'hammock' maybe he should try it."
She says her friends in the mostly conservative hometown neighborhood in Oregon where she grew up talk politics all the time. "We are really tired of the dishonesty. It is affecting our ability to live the kind of lives we had hoped for. And we are not going to take it anymore."
Schlessman is aware that politicians worry about the indifference of the millenials. "But it is the Gen X and Gen Y folks they should be seriously worried about. Millenials may not vote. They don't have enough at stake yet perhaps. But we do. And we will vote."
She understands fellow students in graduate school who sometimes ask: "Do we really have to read this or that?" She explains:
We may not be eager to do our reading for the classes we are enrolled in. Some are in graduate school only because we cannot find the jobs we want. But you can bet we will make ourselves heard. Look at the way hundreds of students turned up at the White House to ask President Obama to say no to the Keystone Pipeline. We mean business.
All the talk is about millenials but we are the forgotten voters and we really are going to take our country back. We are the Pissed-Off Generation and we have a message that will be heard in the midterms. That's a promise.
We shall see.