Columbus, OH

I woke up on Wednesday morning with an Election Day hangover: groggy, head pounding, despondent, a little nauseous. I stumbled out of bed and refreshed the news app on my phone, a hard-to-ignore headline loudly proclaiming “PRESIDENT TRUMP.” I shut my eyes, and as with any other hangover, I popped a couple of ibuprofen, drank a glass of water, and headed to work. My daily responsibilities (hear me: privileges), I knew, would not drift away even in the wake of national shock. At this, I rejoiced.

You see, my generation—the Millennials, Generation Y—has caught a bad rap in recent years. Otherwise known as Generation Me, we are known for being extra-sensitive, overzealous, and self-absorbed. We share our most intimate thoughts and moments with strangers via public media and shout injustice when this information is compromised. We skate through grade-inflated universities, and after a lifetime of being told we are super-special, shout injustice when we struggle to find a job. When we do find a job, we shout injustice that we cannot afford at 25 what Mom and Dad acquired at 50. We pride ourselves on our participation in democracy but shout injustice when, through that process, we do not get what we want. Then, instead of constructing a long-term action plan to effect change, we shout and shout and shout—on Twitter, on Instagram, on Snapchat, on Facebook, and on the street. After all, we just want to be heard.

Dear Millennials: We hear you. But can we see you?

I am not an active user of social media. In fact, the only platform I use is Instagram, its aesthetic feature more enjoyable to me than the rantings I’d find on various others. On Wednesday, though, the visual darkened: posts in grayscale, captions including buzzwords like “weeping” and “brokenness” and “#notmypresident.” Users vowed to fight. Some claimed depression. Other posts included a popular—and baseless—SurveyMonkey electoral map, asserting that the millennial vote for Secretary Clinton stretched across the country in all but five states. And while I do not oppose taking to social media with political concerns, I do take issue when it is the primary mode of action—because it is not action at all.

I can no longer choose to sit idly by in a generation who grossly misunderstands freedom and our place within it. For this very reason, we found ourselves voting for the candidates we saw in this election — a prejudiced, discriminatory, misogynistic businessman who incites hate and values greed, and a politically-experienced criminal whose primary talent is subtle deception. These candidates were not chosen for us, Millennials. These candidates did not bribe their way to the final ballot. And no, the outcome of this election was not your parents’ fault. We chose theses candidates — by choosing media convenience over thoughtful research, by choosing blind tolerance over courageous dialogue, by choosing popularity and likability over critical thinking, and by choosing the rigid boundaries of a political party over morality and ethics and character. It is not by chance that these two candidates are representing the best our country has to offer in leadership. No sane, self-respecting person would any longer subject themselves to the toxic social and political culture we have cultivated for ourselves, our primary concerns in 2016 being retweets and Wikileaks. And by continuing to vote for one of two, for either-or, for the “lesser of two evils,” we communicate to our leaders that we narrow-mindedly believe that freedom is a checkmark and a round sticker on our shirt. These are not actions. This is apathy.

Today, you posted that President-Elect Trump is #notyourpresident. The truth hurts, my friends. He is your president. So tomorrow, choose action. Volunteer in your local community schools. Don’t shut them down with protests. Take a policy class so that you can better understand our world’s most complex issues. Don’t just read the headlines about them on Twitter. Forge a path into places where respectful dialogue is uncommon. Don’t run to your “safe space,” creating further divide. Choose prudence. Choose courage. Values are lasting; political leaders, thankfully, are not.

Hannah Mielke is a graduate student at Ohio State University.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Well stated. The world is not over. Take a moment (or a few years) to study history to understand how long it took to arrive at this point in our lives, with all these “rights” that have been attained and fought so hard for; then if you don’t like where we are, take an intelligent vocal stance to give reasons why you have a right to request others give up their Rights. Intelligent communication is much more effective than destroying the world around you, in an effort to show others that you don’t want the world around you destroyed…

  2. If red faced baby boomers can spend 8 years saying “not my president ” to Barack Obama, I can do the same to a reality show star. The alt-right opened the Pandora’s box of obstructionism and disrespect for government under Obama, they don’t suddenly get to hide that now that they’ve taken the white house.

    • “opened the Pandora’s box of obstructionism and disrespect for government under Obama”

      Too funny. How old are you, dude?

    • In ’11, when Occupy was drawing the nation’s attention to The Problem, BHO had a golden opportunity to be the president that we thought we voted for in ’08. Rather, shaking in his boots thinking about re-election and frightened about what his donors would do if he STOOD UP! for the people of this country, he called out the cops to “shut it down!”

      It was in that moment that he, and primarily he, opened the door wide for President-Elect Trump. The failure to do the right thing, to stand up for the people in the face of the global establishment, this is when the populist revolt was emboldened. Trump is not a product of the Alt-Right, the Tea Party, the White Working Class. NO! President Trump is the product of Democratic failure.

      Mrs Clinton is irrelevant and stupid (see her campaign). She leaned on race (or anti-white racism) and sex and sexuality to propeller her into the White House, completely missed the point and the moment.

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