Issues & Insights

Millennials Face Generation-Defining Moment in Coronavirus Crisis

Gphgrd01 via Wikimedia Commons

The United States is facing a two-pronged — public health and economic — crisis unlike any endured in perhaps a century. But this time around, in order to ensure the American Dream thrives long beyond today’s challenges, our country needs more than leadership from political figures and public health officials. 

It’s time for us, the Millennials, to lead America back to work.

The Millennial Generation, myself included, gets a lot of shade from older Americans who view us as spoiled, lazy and entitled. Unlike previous generations who survived the Great Depression, stormed the beaches of Normandy, and stared down the Soviet Union as the world was on the brink of nuclear destruction, let’s face it — we’ve had it pretty good. However, today we are facing our own generation-defining moment, and history will judge us for whether or not we rise to the occasion. 

While the coronavirus has shown that it is, at times, capable of taking lives across any age group (in the words of Dr. Fauci, young Americans are “not out of danger”), the fact remains that younger people have a far better survival rate. If anyone has to keep America prosperous (while of course washing our hands a lot, elbow bumping, avoiding large gatherings, etc) it’s us. Some areas of the country — such as New York City — need a long quarantine for all ages. But outside the main hot zones, it would be a mistake to succumb to indefinite shutdowns across every county in all 50 states.  

America does need to start working again. And soon. As Charles Lane wrote in the Washington Post,” Economic prosperity is a matter of public health, too — the necessary condition for it, in fact. The United States must respond to the coronavirus accordingly.”  

Politicians and the media are feeding us an enormous lie — that we can sit at home, collect government checks, and at some point, many months down the road, America can just “reopen,” without facing catastrophic consequences. This is categorically false. Attempting it for any prolonged period of time would result in an unprecedented economic collapse, and potentially, an end to America’s global hegemony. 

Across the country, political leaders are shuttering restaurants, bars, and other “non-essential retail.” The fact that the aforementioned refer to so many parts of our economy as “non-essential” plainly reveals how clueless the political class is on basic economic truths.

While there is general consensus that employees at a grocery store are “essential,” in order for that grocery store to open, one needs to manufacture trucks. Once you have trucks, you also need truck drivers, mechanics, hardware stores to purchase tools, and farmers to provide the products to fill the shelves — just to name a few of the many different jobs that keep a single grocery store operating.

Let’s face it, the only true “non-essential” workers in the U.S. economy are political consultants. 

Each generation has been called to make sacrifices when assuming the burdens of leadership for this country. Millennials are not invulnerable. That said, we are by far best suited to absorb the risks entailed in upholding U.S. prosperity by meaningfully contributing to the U.S. workforce.

We are now facing our “Millennial Moment.” Millennials must demand that their governors, state legislators, and members of Congress end indefinite shutdowns where possible and allow them to return to work — not for Wall Street, but for our country.

If we can’t rise to this occasion, our generation is as bad as the stereotypes claim. 

Jon Decker is the executive director of American Commitment & the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.

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