Before “Oprah 2020” became a thing, the mainstream media was fantasizing over the prospect of former Vice President Joe Biden running against President Trump in the next election. Those dreams may as well be over after good ol’ Uncle Joe has put his foot in his mouth yet again.
In a recent interview with Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, Biden expressed that he has “no empathy” for millennials who complain that life is tough for them, suggesting their woes are nothing compared to the struggles his generation faced in the 1960s and '70s.
“The younger generation now tells me how tough things are — give me a break,” said Biden. He goes on to encourage millennials to get more involved in politics instead of complaining.
The former veep’s message, that young people should “get involved,” is not a bad one, but his lack of empathy for the so-called "snowflake generation" is bound to backfire on him if he chooses to run for office again.
Young people don’t want to be told that they have no right to complain about their circumstances. Sure, we weren’t there to witness the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and other social upheavals, but we’ve had our own challenges.
Between the Great Recession and eight years of sluggish growth under the Obama administration, millennials have been hit hard. We earn 20 percent less than baby boomers did back in their heyday — despite being more educated — and healthcare, housing, and education costs have all skyrocketed.
As a result of these hardships, millennials have postponed marriage, childbearing, homeownership, and other key milestones. Our future has been delayed by bad policy decisions and the often unbearable yoke of student debt. Now that the economy seems to be headed in the right direction, Biden has conveniently discounted our long suffering.
Biden also failed to acknowledge the millennials who fought the War on Terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as those who provided support in places like Syria and western and eastern Africa. It wasn't the Vietnam War, but millennials have signed up and shipped out to fight the wars for which Biden voted.
He may have meant well, but Biden’s message came off as completely insensitive to a generation that has been stereotyped for its sensitivity. Young people don’t have the time or patience for another lecture from Uncle Joe.
Biden is right that our generation needs to become more involved in politics. That’s the only way to replace out-of-touch, progressive politicians who have buried us deep in the hole and failed to get us out.
Brendan Pringle (@BrendanPringle) is a freelance journalist in California. He is a National Journalism Center graduate and formerly served as a development officer for Young America's Foundation at the Reagan Ranch.