For progressives who want to see Hillary Clinton in the White House, or those who simply want to keep Donald Trump out of it, now is the time for organizing and mobilizing. But if Americans wake up on November 9 with the sinking realization that they have elected a bigoted, temperamental, and dangerously uninformed reality TV host as our nation’s 45th president, they are likely to blame one generation of voters in particular. This generation is not only among the largest in American history, but notoriously one of the most self-obsessed and entitled. It’s often said they’ll only support candidates who remind them of themselves, regardless of the consequences.
We speak, of course, of Baby Boomers.
(Did you think we meant millennials? While Hillary Clinton did not consolidate millennial support as quickly as Barack Obama did in previous cycles, she is now on pace to match his 2012 performance, and our generation continues to back the Democratic candidate in greater numbers than any other age group.)
Boomers, it’s not easy for us to write this. Though we are millennials, we have family, friends, and colleagues who are part of your generation, and we know that not all of you fit the narcissistic stereotype portrayed in the media. But young voters won’t be able to stop Trump on their own: The polls show you older folks need to get your house in order.
Not ready to doff your red baseball cap yet? There are many reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, but here are a few of the most important to us:
Creating a just economy: The promise of the American Dream was that if you worked hard and paid your dues you could build a better future for your family. But for the first time in modern American history, our generation is likely to be worse off than our parents. (In many communities of color in America, no generation has ever experienced high levels of prosperity, so today’s stagnation only further entrenches inequality.) We entered the job market during the worst recession in decades, and we’re still struggling to climb the ladder. Clinton has a plan to rewrite the rules of the economy to level the playing field and address the racial and gender discrimination that holds back many workers. All Trump has to offer are trade wars and more tax cuts for the rich.
Building an inclusive America: Trump is running against the future of our country. Our generation is the most diverse we’ve ever experienced; in fact, the youth vote in this election is projected to be 70 percent women and people of color. So when Trump promotes draconian immigration policies and fails to acknowledge racial disparities in wealth and policing, he promotes a vision of America that doesn’t fit the experiences or values of our generation. Your generation marched for civil rights alongside Dr. King. Do you want your political legacy to be the election of a man who would build a wall on the Mexican border and ban Muslims from entering the country, not to mention one who has been endorsed by neo-Nazis and the KKK?
Making education affordable and accessible: Millennials are the most affected by the growing student loan debt burden (now over $1.4 trillion in total) and our education system’s failure to prepare students for the changing economy. But mounting student debt and limited job prospects for graduates affect you, too: You want to see your children and grandchildren do well and become financially independent. And as tuition continues to rise, more parents and grandparents are being asked to co-sign loans or take on their own debts to help defray costs. Clinton has laid out concrete plans for lowering the student loan debt burden, ensuring access to community colleges, and allowing those with debt to refinance their loans. Trump simply says he will force colleges to lower costs through a non-descript incentive from the federal government. For the millions already saddled with debt, he has no solution.
In short, we want a new social contract that respects and incorporates our diverse identities and experiences. So did you, once. The critics say you sold out your youthful ideals, but why let them have the last word? We’ll worry about turning out our peers if you worry about yours. If you or someone you know plans to vote for Trump, we encourage you to stop and think about what that really means and who will suffer the consequences. Instead of deepening the generational divide, add your voices to ours as we call for a better America.