Millennials are constantly in the news in America, but some people are unsure what the term comprises. I thought a brief briefing was in order:

The millennial generation is defined by the Pew Research Center as those born between 1981 and 1996. In 2018 this group became Americs’s largest voting-age group, supplanting the baby boomers. They differ from their elders by leaning heavily Democratic. Collectively they believe that gay people should be able marry; that black and brown people get an unacceptably bad break; that immigration strengthens the country, that everyone ought to have decent healthcare. They believe that Medicare, a very well run scheme for the elderly, should be extended, gradually if necessary, to the whole population. And of course they regard climate change as the greatest threat to the planet and to their own future.

To talk about the collective beliefs of such a huge group of people is always open to argument, but in general, the politics of the millennials have been influenced by diminishing job prospects, decades of tax cuts, privatization and deregulation, and the emergence of a tiny and powerful super-rich class. Republican policies are coming home to roost right now, leading to the gig economy, stagnant wages, poor social services, unaffordable child care, an infrastructure that is almost literally falling apart, groaning train and bus services, and a wealth gap that is extraordinarily dangerous for the country. In short, they perceive the country to be far from fine, indeed in decline, and they reject the platitudes of the establishment Democrats, the undermining of democracy and the justice system that is the current hallmark of right-wing Republicans, who brand anything that isn’t for the benefit of the rich as “socialist”.

One of the hallmarks of Epicurean thought is the idea of pleasure as the most important thing in life. This does not infer gluttony and drunkenness. On the contrary, it means a pleasant life where everyone has enough shelter, food, opportunity and say in the running of society, so that life is not so filled with hatred, bitching, grumbling and foul language directed at opponents, as it is today, thanks to our misguided, messed-up capitalism. “Getting on with everyone” is a shorthand way of saying it. I am old but I root for the millennials, who, thanks to some selfish and unempathetic elders, face huge challenges in their lives. Good luck to them!

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