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In article entitled "End Political Gridlock: Put a Millennial in Charge," Laura Sessions Stepp says:

In the midst of the recent debt-ceiling impasse in Congress, I wanted nothing more than to put the smartest 20-something legislative assistants together in a room and ask them to resolve it.

OK, I'm kidding. Sort of. But millennials, on the whole, possess traits that many members of Congress -- in particular freshmen Republicans in the House -- appear not to have...

She went on to say:

Stop by any watering hole on Capitol Hill after 7 p.m. and you'll find millennials vigorously arguing everything from the merits of education reform to Social Security, marshalling reason as well as emotion. In the minds of a 26- or 27-year-old, the fact that he or she might choose one path and a friend might choose another is grounds for a drink together after class or after work, not a standoff.

Of course, there are a handful of young hotheads in Congress. But almost all national polls show that most millennials are more open than their elders to other people's opinions...

I'm not trying to pit one generation against another here, but I'm wondering if there's some merit to Stepp's assertion.

What do you think? What if we put Millennials in leadership roles - or, at minimum, created ad hoc working groups -- to see how they'd sort out some of the hottest, hyper-partisan issues of the day?




Tags: Gen Y, Generation Y, Millennials, diversity

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What a bold concept. While it would be a completely realistic scenario in the private sector, not sure if folks in the fed gov sector would be willing to bite.

Here's one way to achieve a similar result: reverse mentoring. While a baby boomer may not be willing to let a Gen Xer or Gen Yer call the shots directly, reverse mentoring would allow the baby boomer to learn some things from the Xers and Yers through a mentoring relationship. The end result - the baby boomer decision maker has the benefit of having acquired additional Xer/Yer tools in his or her toolkit. Diversity of thought = strategic and smart.

Andrew, this might be something worth considering for including in the GovLoop Mentoring Program. Speaking of which, all of you seasoned feds have volunteered to be a mentor right? If not, what are you waiting for? Mentees need you!
That's definitely one of the visions for the Mentoring Program, John! Next iteration after the pilot... :-)

Way too many generalizations here. Just because a few folks who happen to be Tea Party members and Baby Boomers act in a certain way does not mean that every Baby Boomer should be stereotyped as unwilling to compromise. Neither should we assume that all Millennials are imbued with amazing reasoning powers due to their youth.And does Stepp have better sources than "almost all national polls" to back up her over-generalizations?

I fully agree that diversity of opinion and a willingness to respect the views of others is needed here. But you don't start by categorizing people in the attempt to claim one group is superior over another.


Hey Bill - Agree on need to avoid generalizations...and not sure that Stepp is suggesting Millennials are superior. So let's just isolate the idea of having a tiger team or think tank of younger folks to answer a few questions around how they'd solve tough issues that face us. Do you see any value in that type of exercise? Fresh, potentially innovative thinking on hyper-partisan issues posed to people who have not been around long enough to be jaded?

Jaded is not automatically a function of age or experience. I've met some pretty innovative and open-minded 60-year olds and the most jaded person I ever met just turned 24 last month. The concept of a tiger team is good but I firmly believe that a diversity of factors would produce better solutions than a homogenous group organized around a single factor.

But you raise a fascinating experiment. Why doesn't GovLoop organize three groups to determine who would come up with the most innovative solutions? One group would be composed of Millennials, one group would be composed of Baby Boomers, and one group would be of mixed ages. Give each group the same set of problems and then record their deliberations. After they have finished, transcribe the deliberations and remove all age identifiers. Have another group review the transcripts and vote on which group did the most innovative thinking. I'm betting that none of the groups will have a significant difference.

I further agree and also think its a bit much to assume all Millennials are the flipside of the "tea party" coin.


Futhermore, I would contend that the actions of the Tea Party members is far more Millennial (though none are actually Millennials..the Tea Party is historically younger on average than either major party) than that of the "old guard" GOP and DEMs that could not come to resolution.  They held their ground, on their values, for the people who elected them (you know..their job as elected officials...) Just because it was an unpopular stance doesn't make it "wrong"...and for the do 83 members of congress "take over" when there are 435 voting members.  Sure 83 is a lot, but something tells me that 352 other voting members could have "stopped them" if that was the goal. (not a math major..but...)


That all being said, I completely agree that the answer lies some where in the "middle" of a "tiger-team" a solid mixture of experiences, cultures, values, etc (course..this IS what congress is supposed to be...but that has obviously been led astray.)

I know we're all looking for answers, but I'm about ready to see solutions more so than finger pointing.  Guess that's the Millennial in me ;-)

I love this concept, I think Millennials are "Corporate Rebels" and we can get the job done. We are smart, fearless and resilent.
The minimum age for service in the House of Representatives is 25, for the Senate 30.  The youngest member of the House is Arron Schrock, a Tea Party Republican who had just turned 25 when he overcame the negative headwinds of 2008 to get elected in central Illinois.  Anyone interested in joining him is should pick up the nominating petitions from their local board of election and jump in the pool.
I'm in that group so my opinion may be slightly biased, but I would love to see my generation to be taken serious. If there is one thing I have seen for certain, it is that ideas can come from anywhere within or outside of an group, and position should not simply be a reason to ignore them. For example a large portion of Reddit members are Millennials (a very broad user base though of all ages) and they just began a community that would explain issues such as the debt ceiling to anyone in the simplest terms. There are some great ideas in there, though you should mind the trolls.

I think innovation and an open mind is great for any problem solving. However, when we're dealing with issues like the 'debt crisis' etc, what ends up happening is that 'innovative' people are seen as mavericks and wild cards - and looked upon with a derogatory eye, because what those manipulating events want is someone they can predict and control, not someone that'll surprise them.


We have some that are so obsessed with maintaining the status quo that they'll do anything to keep it, even if the status quo is unsustainable.

Innovation is seen as 'bad' because it shakes up the status quo and rattles the cages of those that want things to stay the same because they have a vested interest in things staying the same.

The other caveat to having innovative people looking into situations, the decision makers need to have an open mind too. Does no good for me to spend six months finding creative ways to trim a budget only to have the staid old city commission pat me on the head and stick with their old fashioned 'fixes'.


I don't know if I totally buy into 'millennials have the best ideas', however sometimes the best ideas can come from those outside the group. People that look upon things with fresh eyes and an open mind rather than 'well, Roger suggested that 3 years ago and he'll defend his idea and I don't want to make Roger mad, so I  can't speak out against it'.


@Denise,  Preservation of the status quo is a major problem.  Some of these people in Congress have managed to burrow in for what seems an eternity.  They have convinced themselves they are there by divine right.  When I hear statements like "the poor have to do their fair share", I am more convinced that term limits are in order. 

I think if term limits are good enough for the President, they should be for every elected federal office. The whole budget mess seems to be a prime indicator of that. I saw it in the health care 'debates' as well...blind party line dogma 'if the other side puts forth an idea it must be evil, keep it away from me, if my side puts it forth, then it's perfect, why can't you see that?'


Too many people too entrenched to a status quo that's no longer possible. Part of innovation is change. And you can't change if you have the same people making the same decisions intent upon keeping things the same as they were when they got into office 10-50 years ago.



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