I want to talk about a statement that has been making waves in the Irish political scene. Holly Cairns, the new leader of the Social Democrats, born in 1989 and a millennial, recently claimed that she is a member of the first-ever generation that will be worse off than her parents. Is she right? Or is she just playing the victim card to win votes?
Firstly, let me say that I have nothing personal against Holly Cairns. I think she is a smart and passionate politician who cares about social justice and equality. I agree with some of her policies, such as increasing funding for special education needs and holding the Defence Forces accountable for abuse and harassment. But I also think she is wrong on this particular issue.
Why do I think she is wrong? Well, because I think she is ignoring the facts and the bigger picture. She is focusing on one aspect of life – housing – and using it to paint a bleak and pessimistic picture of her generation. She is forgetting all the other ways that her generation is better off than the previous generation ever was.
Let me give you some examples. Holly’s generation is more educated than others. They have access to more information and opportunities and can easily travel the world thanks to cheaper flights, learn new skills, start their own businesses, express themselves creatively, and connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds. They have more choices and freedoms than people from the previous generation.
Her generation is also healthier than the one before. Millennials have better medical care, nutrition, and hygiene. They have lower rates of smoking, drinking, and drug abuse. Their life expectancy is higher, and their infant mortality is lower. They have more awareness and support for mental health and well-being.
Holly’s generation is also more progressive than her parents’ generation would have been. Millennials have more respect and tolerance for diversity and human rights. They have more democracy and participation in politics (lest we forget that she was elected leader of the Social Democrats), environmental awareness and action. Millennials have more solidarity and compassion for those who are less fortunate than they are.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that everything is perfect for her generation. I know that they face many challenges and problems, such as climate change, inequality, unemployment, terrorism, cybercrime, etc. I know that housing is a big issue for so many of them, especially in urban areas where rents are sky-high and mortgages are hard to get.
But I also know that housing is not the only measure of well-being. And I know that her generation has many advantages and opportunities that people from the previous generation didn’t have. And I know that millennials have the potential and the power to overcome their challenges and create a better future for themselves and their children.
I understand where Holly Cairns is coming from. I know that she is trying to appeal to the frustrations and anxieties of many young people who feel left behind by the system. I know that she is trying to offer them a vision of a fairer and more inclusive society. I know that she is trying to differentiate herself and her party from the other parties who have been in power for too long.
But I also think that she is making a mistake. A mistake that could backfire on her and her party. A mistake that could alienate rather than attract voters to the Social Democrats. Holly is using a negative and divisive message. A message that pits one generation against another. A message that blames the past for the present. A message that ignores the positive aspects of her generation and her country.
Holly’s statement is not helpful. It does not offer any solutions or alternatives to the issues that millennials across the world face. It does not inspire or motivate a generation to take action or change things for the better. Not only that, but it only makes them feel angry and hopeless.
Such language is not popular, it won’t resonate with most voters, especially older ones who make up a large part of the electorate. It does not acknowledge or appreciate their contributions and sacrifices for their country. It does not respect or value their opinions and experiences.
In conclusion, I think Holly Cairns is doing herself and her party a disservice by using such messaging. I think she is missing an opportunity to connect with more voters and gain more support. I think she is wasting her time and energy on a losing strategy.
So, I sincerely hope that people do not fall for Holly Cairns’ doom-and-gloom rhetoric. I urge millennials to look at the facts and the bigger picture. And I urge them to be proud of their generation and what they have achieved so far.
Remember: You are not worse off than your parents. You are different from your parents. And you can make a difference in this world.