Earlier this month, a video of Joe Biden saying he had “no empathy” for “the younger generation” that “tells me how tough things are” resurfaced on social media. The video was over a year old, but it elicited predictable howls from members of the dissed demographic. “Nothing says ‘perfect candidate to lead the most powerful nation in the world’ like ‘I have no empathy,’” wrote someone with the Twitter handle @anarchopriapism.
My own reactionary reaction was different. O.K., I thought, I could definitely vote for Joe — provided he has the mettle to stand his ground.
I’ve been saying for a while now that both parties could use a Sister Souljah moment, in which a candidate shows the intestinal fortitude to rebuke some obnoxious person or faction within his political base. Bill Clinton did it in 1992 after the recording artist Lisa Williamson asked, “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Clinton called it out as an example of reverse racism and still went on to win 83 percent of the African-American vote.
In this election cycle, no faction on the Democratic side more richly deserves rebuking than the one Biden singled out — which is not, of course, anywhere close to the entire millennial generation (roughly 80 million strong), or their younger siblings in Gen Z. But it is that part of these younger generations that specializes in histrionic self-pity and moral self-righteousness, usually communicated via social media with maximum snark.
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