Over the weekend the Morehouse Class of 2019 received more than just their diploma on graduation day. Robert F. Smith, a billionaire investor, vowed to pay off the entire graduating class's student loan debt. In his touching speech he highlighted the burdens many millennials are facing, "When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained."
Millennials are facing unique challenges that will be front and center during the 2020 elections. More candidates are campaigning with anti-capitalist ideologies than ever before, and student debt forgiveness has become a platform staple of the Democratic party. Last week, Joesph Sternberg wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the biggest challenge millennials face is proving to baby boomers that the younger generation is in “economic trouble” because their degrees aren’t adding up to jobs.
With a cynical view of higher education and buried in student loan debt, it is no wonder socialism is trending with young people. Free education, debt forgiveness, and all at the expense of someone else? Sounds good! (To anyone who hasn’t learned basic economics.) Millennials will make up nearly a third of next year’s electorate. But, with great power comes great responsibility. Millennials are pushing the Democratic candidates further to the left because, among other things, they want a solution for their mountains of student debt.
Pete Buttigieg, once a no-name mayor, is now trending with millennials because he is campaigning on what he calls “intergenerational justice.” Young, broke, people searching for a quick fix may find themselves drawn towards the too-good-to-be-true socialist economic agenda. His non-detailed solution is to tax wealthy, older Americans, make public college tax-free, and provide more support for debtors in public service professions.
Progressive politics will lead to a socialist America. If online traffic leads to traffic at the polling place, progressive candidates offering harmful socialist economic agendas will earn the millennial vote. I argue that millennials will be driven to the polls for someone who best answers their collective question: What should we do with all this student loan debt? (which may be a proxy question for “Do you care about opportunity for people like me?”)
President of the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, Joel Acevedo, wrote in Washington Examiner last week that Republicans should capitalize on this issue by coming up with an economically friendly plan to deal with the student debt crisis. He puts forward an alternative starting first with state funding, then focusing on kicking big government out of the lending game.
In the Wall Street Journal, Sternberg concludes that baby boomers had “stolen a decade away from millennials”. However tempting it may be, voting for a politician who just wipes the debt away would not help millennials’ situations at all. I urge my generation to think about the long-term destruction such economic policies can cause, and not blame capitalism.