It happens to every parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle. Your college-aged relative starts posting memes on social media blasting Donald Trump. Then a link to an article calling for an end to animal testing for pharmaceutical companies. Then a “pride flag” over their profile picture in support of same-sex marriage. And that is when you realize you have a true Millennial on your hands.
While there has been some debate about the age parameters of the “Millennial generation”, there are a few widely accepted truths about this group. They were brought up with participation trophies and helicopter parents. They may remember 9/11, but weren’t necessarily affected by it. And they are social liberals who think there is something inherently wrong with being “the one percent”.
So how do you bridge the gap and discuss politics with someone so vastly different from you?
1. Wait A Few Years
Millennials are known for their “failure to launch”. Having graduated from college and participating in the labor force, this generation is much more likely to still be living at home with Mom and Dad than previous generations. Of course they think socialism is a great idea. A political exchange may just need to wait until your millennial has left the nest and started paying taxes. Eventually, when it matters more to them where those tax dollars go, they will listen to reason.
2. Appeal to Their Humanitarian Side
Millennials tend to be social liberals. They are drawn to companies and industries that are interested in “making a difference”, often eschewing higher paying jobs for employment with companies who appear to value their employees or their impact on the environment. This could, in part, explain the staggering 19.1% unemployment rate in youth ages 15 to 24 in 2010.
However, when discussing social policies such as health care, foreign aid, homelessness, or hunger, it is better to come armed with examples of how the private sector comes to the aid of humanity in a more efficient and effective way than the federal government. Chances are, they will extol the virtues of Scandinavian countries where crime, homelessness, and hunger are not perceived as social problems. Remind them of the 55% personal tax rate in Denmark, ask what their tax rate was last year, and refer to number one of this list.
3. Stick to the Issues Where You Have Common Ground
Chances are, if they were raised in a conservative household, there are a few issues that your Millennial still leans right on. Whether it’s religious liberty, abortion, gun control, or defense readiness, find a political issue over which you can commiserate. Talk about the lack of effectiveness in Congress. Discuss how the message is getting lost. Banter about possible solutions. You may even be able to slip in a subtle message about why “free college” isn’t such a good idea, or how Obamacare is actually weakening medical advancement.
The rising generation is intelligent, tech-savvy, and optimistic. Even though they tend to be socially liberal, they also tend to be civic-minded individuals who want to make a difference in the world. They will become more conservative with age and experience, but for now, let’s enjoy their sunny outlook.
And perhaps not follow them on Facebook.