When One Man's Win Is Everyone's Loss
Here in America, we don’t lose. In fact, during his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said, “We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning.” (To be fair, many of us are indeed bored with his winning.)
America’s perspective of winners and losers is entirely rooted in our economic nature. Capitalism is based on the idea of every man for himself—and if you’re not winning, you’re losing.
Kids in America are told they live in the land of opportunity, where they can grow up and follow their dreams. However, we have over one trillion dollars in student loan debt and the world’s highest prison population. So it’s not quite as easy to “make it” as people make it seem.
Recognizing the link between our education system and our prison system is vital to understanding how our country views its young people. Mostly, it views us as a profit. Charging students hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn a basic education for entry-level jobs prevents them from truly gaining from their academic experience as they should; rather, they have to focus on working side jobs to be able to afford to live. Meanwhile, countless young people serve jail time for non-violent crimes, as big businesses benefit from prison labor.
The once shimmering picture of the American dream is jaded in today’s economy. Millennials are no longer buying what the boomers are selling. Bernie Sanders’s campaign reached wild success with young voters because he cared about lowering college tuition, raising minimum wage, providing universal healthcare, combating climate change...basically, protecting our future.
However, with voters aged 18-29 making up only 19% of the voting pool, the future of America does not control the future of America.
Our nation’s strategy of offering blind hope to its youth and expecting hard work and unconditional patriotism in return no longer thrives in today’s age of technology. Young people are becoming more and more aware of the issues that affect them. We want to start conversations about how we can fix these problems.
The rising student loan debts and jail populations reflect our nation’s indifference to its future. But you’d think that the leader of the world’s third largest country might care at least a little bit that the planet is dying. Our president has repeatedly denied climate change, and even with recent hurricanes and wildfires, his stance remains. In fact, he has reduced the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by more than 30% (not to mention, his elected head of the EPA is also a climate change skeptic).
So, if the president doesn’t care about our nation’s youth or its environment, what does he care about? What drives the future of America?
One word: Money.
For young people growing up in a country run by wealthy people who only seem to care about becoming wealthier, it’s easy to lose hope. Our president throws hate at every person unlike himself to keep the support of his voters. He threatens lives, families, and basic human rights all to secure his own power and wealth. We feel voiceless in a country founded on democracy, and unequal in a land where “all men are created equal.”
So how do we respond to this? We show up. We fight back. We grab back. We vote. We call our representatives. We stay informed. We spread the word. We march for what we believe in.
We don’t lose.
By Ellen Daly, 16