From where do we get the term and concept of “Millennials” as the current generation of young people in America today?
From a 1991 book that explains American cultural history as a repeating cycle of four generational types: Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe.
Straus & Howe posit that these four – Idealist, Reactive, Civic, and Adaptive – have distinguishing mind-sets, with strengths and weaknesses that emerge at different times in the generational life-cycle of childhood, young adulthood, mid-life, and old age.
Idealist, motivated by abstract goals and principles;
Reactive, motivated by a cynical practicality;
Civic, motivated by a community spirit and can-do optimism;
Adaptive, motivated by the desire for compromise and consensus.
The cycle began with the children of the Elizabethans in England, who grew up to be an Idealist generation migrating to the Jamestown and Massachusetts Bay Colonies of the New World in the first decades of the 17th century.
Strauss & Howe then proceed to recount almost 400 years of American history through these four generational lenses, giving example after historical example in an ultimate demonstration of the French aphorism, plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose — the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Every generational type has its assets and liabilities. This is most clearly demonstrated in times of major crisis, which often occurs at the end of the cycle:
The Idealists in their 60s and 70s provide the moral leadership, like Benjamin Franklin and Franklin Roosevelt;
The Reactives in their 40s and 50s provide the practical leadership, generals like Washington and Patton;
The Civics in their 20s and 30s do the actual fighting, as in the Revolutionary War and the “Greatest Generation” that fought WWII;
While Adaptives are youngsters whose job it is to keep quiet and not disturb the adults doing serious things.
Idealists are most dangerous when they are young and prone to drive the country off a cliff in a moral crusade, like the Civil War, or the lunacy of the Black Power-Chè Guevara-Ho Chi Minh-Jane Fonda-Woodstock 1960s.
Civics are most dangerous when they are old and become Greedy Geezers demanding the country bankrupt itself in paying tribute to them for their patriotic sacrifices. Witness the explosion of government “entitlements” since the 1980s.
Adaptives are most dangerous when their compulsion to compromise precludes moral clarity with grave problems festering and never solved, like all the fruitless efforts to straddle the gulf between freedom and slavery in the 1850s, or today’s unwillingness to confront our $20 trillion national debt.
Reactives can be dangerous anytime, for they are the generation of edges and extremes, the heroes and the bums – Thomas Jefferson and Benedict Arnold, Babe Ruth and Al Capone, crotch-grabbing hoodlum pop stars and soldiers of incredible bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A full generational cycle is about 80 to 90 years, a saeculum for Strauss & Howe, Latin for a “natural century.”
As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, we have seen the passing of the great Civic generation (the GIs) of the 20th century, born 1900-1924, save for those few now deep into their 90s. And we are seeing the steady year-by-year passing of the 20th century’s Adaptive generation (the Silents), born 1925-1942, the youngest of whom are now in their mid-70s.
The generational lineup in 2017 is thus:
Idealists (Boomers), born1943-1961, now late 50s to early 70s;
Reactives (Xers), born 1962-1981, now mid-30s to mid-50s
Civics (Millennials) born 1982-2004, now teenagers to early 30s
Adaptives (Gen Z) born 2005-2025(?), now children to pre-teen adolescents
This happens to be the precise lineup, according to Strauss & Howe, to best solve a major crisis facing the country. There’s one major problem. Millennials have failed to become a true Civic generation so far. Instead, they’ve become Generation Snowflake.
One principal reason is that Boomers have failed to provide moral leadership for the country. The last president to do so was Ronald Reagan, a Civic born in 1911.
Bill Clinton, our first Idealist president born in 1946, was a moral sleazebag. It takes a very long time for Idealists to mature. Neither Bill Clinton nor his wife have to this day.
George W. Bush, also born in 1946, was (and is) a good decent man, but proved unable to stand up to the deluge of Leftist Hate that washed over his presidency.
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., born in 1961, was the worst mistake American voters have ever made, a Hate America radical Leftist elected only because of the color of his skin. Had he been a white guy, no one would have paid any attention to him.
Now we have a President of sufficient age (born in 1947, just turned 71) to reach the level of maturity for an Idealist to provide moral leadership. It takes most Idealists a long time to reach that level, and Donald Trump is no exception – it is still work in progress, as his Tweet storms testify.
His speeches, appointments, and executive actions prove he has made marvelous progress. Thus it is crucial that President Trump complete that progress as soon as possible – while there is still time for Generation Snowflake to grow up and become Civics.
Here’s a thought experiment. In the 1930s when the GI Generation was the same age as Millennials are now (born 1900-1924), we had the Great Depression blamed on capitalism, rampant sympathy for the Soviet Union, and Marxist intelligentsia dominating cultural and political discourse.
In those circumstances, it would have been all too easy for American youth to rebel against any form of patriotism towards their country. Suppose they had?
Suppose their reaction to Pearl Harbor had been to ask, “Why do the Japanese hate us? What have we done so wrong to deserve this? Why should we die on some remote Pacific island that means nothing to us because we made the Japanese hate us?”
Instead, they rose to the challenge to become the most heroic generation American has ever had since the Revolutionary War – for both the Revolution and World War II was fought and won by Civic soldiers.
Today, we are at such a turning point in the history of our country. America faces an enemy just as evil and just as determined to destroy us as the Japanese of Tojo or the Nazis of Hitler. Even more dangerous, in fact, for the enemy is not external on foreign shores, but is within and among us, inside the gates.
That enemy is the Nazi Left – fellow Americans so deranged with hate they fantasize about killing the President of the United States via staged mock assassinations of him, fantasize about killing all Republicans in Congress as they state in twitters supporting a Nazi Leftie’s attempt on Steve Scalise, and yes, fantasize about killing all whites – for Whites are the New Jews to the Nazi Left.
In poll after poll, a majority of Millennials bear a distinct animus towards President Trump, more so than other generations. Yet if he could transform Generation Snowflake into a true patriotic pro-American genuinely Civic Generation, confident and optimistic about their future and that of their country – instead of fearfully needing safe spaces from reality – Trump could save America from the crisis it now faces.
How could he do this? Branding. Let’s unpack that.
Millennials are into brands more than Xers or Boomers. Xers focus more on practicality, Boomers more on quality and value. Millennials are into what’s popular, they buy the brand of the most popular product, they need to feel emotionally connected to a brand in a way that Xers and Boomers don’t.
These are the results of The Generational Perspective Study recently conducted (March 2017) by Alliance Data’s Analytics and Insights Institute.
Now, who do you suppose made his fortune of billions of dollars by branding his name? Donald Trump is a proven genius at branding.
Now he faces the greatest branding challenge of his life – and his country’s life depends on it. He has got to make himself, his presidency, and his country cool to Millennials.
If you are for Trump and what he’s doing for the country – more and better jobs, more prosperity, more freedom, more responsibility – you are cool, you are a winner.
If you are against Trump and want the opposite – lousy or no jobs, more poverty, less freedom, more dependency on government – you are uncool, you are a loser.
If you have the brains to understand that the Fake News Media, the Democrats, and the Deep State Bureaucracy have invented this Trump-Russia-Collusion Hoax with no evidence whatever as a pure scam to destroy his presidency, then you are intelligent.
If you actually believe the Fake News Media inventions and lies, then you are stupid, a brainless 2-digit-IQ twit.
How does Trump achieve this – what specific techniques and tactics would he have his people employ? Beats me. He’s the branding guru, not me. He’s spent his lifetime at it, made billions doing it, not me.
All I know is that Trump must do it, and that he can do it.
I also know Steve Bannon is a devotee of Strauss & Howe’s generational model.
In 2010, Bannon wrote and directed a documentary film, Generation Zero, as an explanation of the 2008 financial crisis according to the Strauss & Howe generational theory. Bannon places the blame for the crisis on the Boomers of the 60s.
What Bannon, now the President’s Chief Advisor in the White House, needs to focus on today is the opportunity his now-matured Boomer Boss has to convert Millennials from Generation Snowflake into the Next Great Generation that can save America.
The President has a head start – 37% of Millennials voted for him (the same percentage as voted for Romney in 2012). There are millions of Millennials who are not Snowflakes, who love their country, admire their president, and yearn for a moral revival in our culture.
There was a chance for a moral revival with Ronald Reagan – but it was too early. It was the wrong generational setup in the 80s, Boomers still too immature and too much Xer cynicism to overcome. We had to wait for the next great Civic generation to emerge.
It is still in emergence – but nonetheless, we have the right generational setup now. Let us pray that Providence will guide our President into optimizing the opportunity history is giving him.