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Opinion

Occupy movement mirrors Millennial Generation

Millennials and Occupiers both believe in taking group action and creating a more equitable, community-driven world. But the Occupy movement has a greater chance of success if it adopts even more of this new generation's characteristics. Like neatness, and a local action plan.

By Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais / October 27, 2011



Arcadia, Calif.

In our newest book, “Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America,” we describe why the leadership of all the nation’s institutions will be challenged during this decade by the emerging Millennial Generation, born 1982-2003. These young people believe in individuals taking action as a group at the local level to bring about a more “accessible, equitable, community-driven” world. That closely describes the “Occupy” protests.

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Shortly after our book was published, these protests sprung up seemingly spontaneously in more than 1,400 cities across the country, leading one commentator to suggest we should be given “the Nobel Prize for Predictions.”

We’ll leave that for others to chew on, especially because we are not yet certain that these protests are Millennial enough. If they were, Occupy would have a greater chance of success as a movement. But Millennials clearly sympathize with the fundamental message of Occupy. Beset by more than $1 trillion in college loan debt and high unemployment, they believe the system isn’t working for them.

Millennials readily agree with Occupiers that Wall Street firms and other financial institutions played a major role in jeopardizing the nation’s and their generation’s economic future – and they haven’t paid a price for doing so. While Millennials overwhelmingly support President Obama (preferring him by a 2:1 margin over his major potential Republican opponents), one of the generation’s disappointments with his administration is its unwillingness to impose penalties on Wall Street for behaving badly.

It’s as if America’s most important parent has forgotten the first tenet of every Millennial family – not abiding by the rules will have consequences.

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