I attended a wedding of two millennials this weekend and came to a startling conclusion. The mean girls hate Hillary for exactly the same reason the mean girls hated most other girls in high school.
It was depressing to hear some 20- or 30-somethings talk about the election as something they loathed, disrespected, and had no time for.
And that wasn't even the worst part. These were intelligent, successful young people who described why they will not vote. The reason? Both candidates make their skin crawl. Okay, I thought, I get that as far as Trump goes, he's simply a disgusting human being and they don't embrace his racist, bigoted rants, but what the hell do these seemingly smart folks have against Hillary? I had to ask.
Listening to the answers, none of which were fact-based, was an eye opener. And that's when I realized -- these people may be out of high school and some of them may be male, but they are still essentially the mean girls. The bitchy, self-centered, insecure beings who look down on anyone who isn't as cool as they perceive themselves to be.
Sure, Bernie Sanders had a coolness factor for them. (I loved me some Bernie but, honestly, his cool factor escaped me.) They didn't know why he was cool but their friends seemed to think so and that was good enough for them. But Hillary? She reminds them of every girl they held in low regard in high school. You know the ones; they didn't smoke, they didn't drink; they didn't dabble in drugs; they didn't wear the right clothes or care about the things they cared about, namely, what was cool.
And, you know what those less-than-cool girls were doing in high school that made them so uncool? They were studying, writing for the school paper, editing the yearbook, participating in mock debates, volunteering at hospitals, organizing rallies to protest apartheid in South Africa, playing lacrosse or field hockey and generally looking ahead to productive lives that would make a difference in the world.
The mean girls? They were deciding whether the prom theme should be vintage-inspired, like Night on the Titanic or more ironic like an 80s theme.
And now those girls, those same mean girls (again, not in any way just girls) are supposed to help us choose a POTUS? Well, no, apparently, they don't feel the need. They don't like the choices and by god if they don't like the choices, they will simply opt out because they can't bring themselves to stoop to the level of anyone who'd vote for Hillary.
So, I couldn't help myself. I had to engage these young people in a conversation about what they did care about. They spent a great deal of time telling me which election issues did not matter to them. Gun control? Nope, they don't' think anything can be done about the guns already out there and no one has aimed a gun at them so, no biggie. Education? Nope, they don't have kids and they got through school okay so the schools are fine. Terrorism? Nope, they figure the odds of being attacked by a terrorist are slim enough and besides that there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Okay, I said, sinking into a deep depression. I bet I know one issue that matters to you. It might even be the most important issue of all because without it nothing else matters: The environment. You must care about the health of the planet, I implored. I figured I could get them to see the wide gap between Trump, who doesn't "believe" in climate science and Hillary who is smart enough to know we must do something about the planet or we are literally all doomed. I knew if I could get them to look at that issue, they'd have to go vote for Hillary.
Nope. Well, not exactly no, they do care about it they just don't believe the planet's in trouble. No climate change, obviously, no global warming, they reported, after all it snowed like 20 inches in North Carolina this year, they pointed out.
I wanted to know if their parents know they're not voting. They just laughed, as if the notion were ridiculous.
Not so silly, if you think about it. Maybe your mostly adult children have lost perspective about what matters in this election. Maybe they never had it. But if they think Hillary isn't inspiring, and isn't cool enough to have earned their vote, it's time you set them straight. No, back in high school Hillary probably wasn't getting high in the bathroom with her friends. She wasn't sneaking vodka into the dances in her water bottle. She was studying and dreaming about being an astronaut. Later, she was studying to get into a good college and law school. And after that she was busy devoting her entire "Millennial" years to working on behalf of children and families, to being First Lady of Arkansas and then First Lady of the United States, and after that she was a Senator and followed that up by serving as Secretary of State and now, after that lifetime of work, she wants to take on the hardest job in the world as President of the United States. And your kids don't think she's cool enough to vote for? How much more badass does a girl have to be to impress the mean girls?
And, as a parent, isn't it your job, yes, even though your children are grown, isn't it your responsibility to let them know what matters to you? Are you proud of their choice to opt out of voting? Have you even talked about it with them? Is this the legacy you want to leave, that choosing to not to participate in democracy is a smart choice? Is it okay with you if your kids help Trump to possibly win? Do you know if your kids are registered to vote? If they're at college, have they found out the way to get absentee ballots? Find out now, while there's still time.
You may be old enough to remember the PSA TV ad campaign that asked, "It's 11:00, do you know where your children are?" It was directed at parents to gently remind them that good parents pay attention to their children and mind their children's business in order to know what they're up to and guide them to behave with integrity.
So, I ask you parents of millennials. It's almost metaphorically, 11:00 in this election season. Do you know if your children are voting? And do they know you care?