Millennials, forged by recession and ridicule, rise in Washington


WASHINGTON – When Senate millennial Jon Ossoff heads for a vote, he skips the golden senators-only elevator and takes the back stairs, two at a time – maybe because he’s a young man in a hurry or maybe because he needs the steps.

Regardless of why, Ossoff, 34, is leading the Millennium Way in Washington, part of a new generation of politicians and political freaks, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s first cabinet member, who is recently arrived in Washington ready to take over. .

Ossoff not only represents Georgia in the Senate, but a generation that has suffered from recession and pandemic and has been decried as a pampered breed of self-obsessed permachildren who expect attendance trophies and care more about Paris Hilton. than politics.

From trolling social media to workplace culture to climate change politics, millennials from both political parties are rising to power and trying to disrupt the way Washington does business.

“Gerontocracy has been slow to recognize that their world is different from ours,” said Ritchie Torres, DN.Y., a 33-year-old, who is gay and Afro-Latino. “I belong to a new generation of leaders who are more progressive and more disruptive, as well as as diverse as everyone else in America.”

Thirty-one House members are now millennials, compared to just five Four years ago, and they are operation the Democratic National Committee and major White House departments of President Joe Biden – the oldest sworn president, who was also one of the youngest to be elected to the Senate.

As they begin to appear in Congress, it won’t be long before millennials take control of the city’s other institutions, from newsrooms to lobby stores to courtrooms.

As millennials age in the ruling class, they have been shaped by almost constant upheaval – 9/11, “never-ending wars”, the Great Recession, the Internet of Everything, race and gender calculations, the global pandemic – and the equally constant failure of the institutions on which they depend to save the day.

Yes, the new rulers in Washington have kombucha on tap in their campaign offices and have a penchant for millennial rose. They met their spouses on dating apps, ride electric scooters, wear a side part and skinny jeans and have Instagram accounts for their dogs. the millennial senator can’t seem to clean the internet from his college “Star Wars” Videos. And millennials prefer to socialize on Flag, the app, not a golf course clubhouse.

But they also have student debt, come from much more diverse backgrounds than their predecessors, and on both sides of the political aisle are steeped in the imperative to overturn a status quo that they say no longer works.

And some might say that politics is, in fact, the ideal domain for “authorized narcissists,” like Time magazine once called millennials on its cover.

“My generation works tirelessly, often with low wages and no benefits, and is the first generation in many decades where America’s promise of upward mobility for the middle and working class is severely compromised,” Ossoff told NBC News . “This is why there is such a political urgency in my generation that we are doing things differently – that the status quo jeopardizes the American dream for my generation and for the next generation.


The oldest millennials, born in 1981, were eligible to run for Congress starting in 2006. The first come was former Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who was elected in 2008, but his career imploded in a very millennial scandal which involved interior design inspired by Instagram and prestige television.

They didn’t start arriving en masse on Capitol Hill until 2018, when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., quit her job as a bartender in New York City to ride electric scooter around Capitol Hill.

Some of the most famous and influential members of Congress are now in their 20s and 30s, thanks to their understanding of how to build and monetize an online audience – sometimes with a good dose of “trolling”.

There is “AOC” and his colleague “Squad” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., And their Republican counterparts in Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who is making the sport a signature Millennium Side Party.

On the quieter side, there’s Rep Conor Lamb, D-Pa., Who won a high-profile special election in 2018; Representative Joe Neguse, D-Colorado, who earned applause in the latest impeachment trial; and Rep. Jacob La Turner, R-Kan., who before entering Congress this year at age 32 was the youngest member of the state office in the country and the youngest member of the Kansas State Senate. before that.

Buttigieg is easily Biden’s most recognizable cabinet member, so much so that he has been spotted at a dog park with Ocasio-Cortez and self-service bike to work from the furnished Facebook Marketplace apartment he shares with her husband, Chasten, whom he met on the Hinge dating app.

In a world now dominated by social media, millennials, most of whom can remember a time before smartphones were ubiquitous, are uniquely positioned to bridge the digital divide.

“I remember social media when it was fun,” Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass said. “Facebook isn’t fun anymore.”

This means millennials could fall victim to social media traps.

“Of all the addictions that exist out there, the most dangerous is to seek out the greatest number of applause or pat on the back or likes on any currency of a given social media platform,” Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who is about six months too old to technically qualify as a millennial. “Our process is frustrating, but it’s supposed to be a slow and deliberative process. And millennials are sometimes looking for that instant gratification. “

Workplace culture

With egos and outsized stakes, Capitol Hill has never been a cushy place to work. Young bosses can be abusive too, of course, but the issues raised in recent workplace calculations, from #MeToo to representation and unionization, are more intuitive, Millennials say in Congress.

“I’m thinking about how I want my office to be a very open and supportive place to work,” said Sara Jacobs, 32-year-old first recruit, D-California, whose trans brother makes her particularly sensitive to LGBTQ. problems, “to fix things I didn’t like to find in the workplace.”

Like other younger members, Jacobs deliberately chose an older and experienced chief of staff to help oversee his office and make his staff more representative of his district. “I don’t deal with older employees any differently, although I guess I give them less early career advice,” she said.

Golf is over. Running, yoga, and video games are featured – and sometimes streamed live to fans. Ocasio-Cortez played the viral game Among Us on the streaming platform Twitch, while Buttigieg is known to de-stress at night trying to take over the world on a smartphone version of Risk.


An Australian real estate mogul once recommended to Generation Y to stop wasting their money on avocado toast if they want to be able to afford a home.

Generation Y is the most educated generation in the workforce. But after two recessions and decades of rising costs and stagnating wages, they do less than the baby boomers and were forced to delay steps such as home ownership and children because they can’t afford it.

Their experiences inform the policies they push.

In the White House, recently filed financial disclosures revealed that Jen Psaki, the Gen X press secretary, reported annual income of $ 647,742 before joining the administration. Pili Tobar, a millennium communications staffer, has at least 15 student loans outstanding, the last of which is not expected to be repaid until 2042.

The younger staff have reported tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and additional income from renting rooms in their homes, according to recently released financial information.

Torres, who said the economic system is “predatory” on young people who take out big loans on the fragile promise that a college degree will secure their future, said it was not difficult to see why so many young people had been radicalized or excluded.

“Millennium Politics has a disillusion with Institutional Politics because we’ve seen the dissolution of one institution after another,” Torres said. “From disillusion comes a desire for public service.”

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, many decided to serve their country in the army, to leave with deep disillusion the “endless wars”.

“All my adult life we ​​have been at war. But growing up, I remember the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years, ”said Auchincloss, 33, who joined the Marines outside of Harvard University. “When we have younger interns, I always try to point out to them that this is not normal.”

Rep. Pete Meijer, R-Mich., Another 33-year veteran elected to Congress last year, distinguished himself shortly after taking the oath by joining nine others Republicans vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

“Millennials have had unique or unique experiences in a generation twice a decade now,” Meijer said, referring to September 11, the Great Recession, the pandemic and more. “The idea of ​​long-term impact is not just an abstraction for us. It will be something that we will see and experience through the impacts of the decisions we make today.

For him, that actually means taking climate change into account, which he says Republicans have denied for too long. “This is an opportunity for us to resume our leading role in the world,” he said.

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