This is a letter to Mrs. Clinton, in response to the leaked text of a conference call with her campaign donors. Since I’m responding line by line, first here’s what Mrs. Clinton had to say:
Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future. I met with a group of young black millennials today and you know one of the young women said, “You know, none of us feel that we have the job that we should have gotten out of college. And we don’t believe the job market is going to give us much of a chance.” So that is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. And so if you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing. So I think we should all be really understanding of that and should try to do the best we can not to be, you know, a wet blanket on idealism. We want people to be idealistic. We want them to set big goals. But to take what we can achieve now and try to present them as bigger goals.
Dear Mrs. Clinton,
I am a child of the Great Recession, but I am now an adult. I am not living in my parents’ basement but I’ve needed their help. I got a prestigious education but could not find a job where I could earn enough to support myself in the most modest of lifestyles. Now I’ve been passed over and yes, there isn’t much of a future available for the likes of me.
I’m not new to politics, though. I’ve been immersed in politics all my life. Yes, the Great Recession certainly transformed my politics: in a period of mere months it changed me from a libertarian-leaning Christian Conservative to the anarcho-socialist who would vote for Bernie Sanders seven and a half years later.
You know what? Despite being a naturally ambitious individual, I’d be content with being a barista – if it payed my rent and basic healthcare and grocery bill. But I can’t be content when the greater part an entire generation can’t be financially independent no matter how hard and cleverly they work their butts off every day. So really, opportunity to rise in the ranks, to better ourselves and be a part of the American Dream would merely be the icing on the cake, and we’re willing to compromise and live without it, as long as we win access to our basic human rights, as defined in our own Declaration of Independence, the document wherein our nation defined the basis from which States gain legitimacy. That’s the mindset affecting our politics.
So you’re almost right, Mrs. Clinton, but you’re also incredibly wrong. A political revolution isn’t merely ‘appealing’, and we don’t have the luxury of wanting a way for us to gain ‘opportunity’. For us a political revolution is compelling, as we look for a way to maintain our survival, and as we act out of compassion for the survival of our peers. I agree with you that all you boomers should be understanding, but unless you understand that this is about survival, not opportunity, that this is about compassion, not entitlement and selfishness, and that this is necessity, not appeal or desire, that understanding has not been reached.
You call it idealism. I call it recognizing the needs of today’s world. You say you want us to set big goals. But we’ve set only the most minimal goals to eek out the basic survival of ourselves and our peers. You say that our goals cannot be achieved now. Let’s say that’s true. That would mean that many more of our peers are going to drop off Facebook, one by one, as they are taken by curable and treatable illnesses but are without health insurance, as they can’t afford housing and end up on the streets. That a great number of the rest of us are going to have our hopes crushed further year by year as we work harder than your generation has ever done but still can’t afford to start a family, with our futures appearing to be being middle aged and living with our parents, childless, in dead end jobs and crossing our fingers that we don’t get sick let we be the next of our peers to drop off Facebook and out of life itself. It means watching the life expectancy for Americans drop, the median standard of living for American drop, let alone the American Dream all but vanish.
Mrs. Clinton, If you truly understood our situation, you would not find what you define as the achievable, tolerable. You could not help but rail against it just as Bernie Sanders did. Some political experts define what is achievable more progressively than you do, and, Mrs Clinton, we need you to look at what those experts propose and to put your considerable intelligence towards bending political reality to make those proposals concrete. We need you to be willing to go to bat for us. It’s not enough for you to make sure you’re not a wet blanket on our hopes and dreams. We need you as an ally in our fight to stay human.
Yes, I’m a child of the Great Recession and I’ve lived, metaphorically, in my parent’s basement, and I am neither insulted that you recognize that nor believe it should be considered insulting. It’s recognizing reality and I thank you for that. Please also recognize the reality that the largest generational voting block in America needs you to achieve more than you believe you can achieve. Please find a way to to do more, because we need more from our leaders than you currently offer. Like I said, I’m not new to politics, and watching the religious right for the last twenty years, I know that huge, ambitious goals can be politically achievable, when you believe they’re possible and go to bat for them. Please don’t just present your goals as big, but find a way to make the achievable big enough.