Having talked to a millennial, I’m now an expert on that generation.
Or I would be if I were dank enough to understand millennial-speak. TBH, I’m as shook as any old person when it comes to getting the high key on young people.
Which means I have only a slightly better grasp of the situation than state officials, who are frantic to stop the exodus of millennials from Maine. To that end, they’ve proposed a number of initiatives designed to make the country’s oldest state more on fleek. Unfortunately, their concept of millennials is about as snatched as my use of their slang.
I’ll stop if they will.
Among the ideas aimed at keeping younger people (defined as anyone who isn’t dead) in Maine is to help pay off college debt. Companies that hire millennials would make payments on those loans and get tax breaks in return. In other words, everyone else would pay for this.
Another proposal calls for the state to forgive the borrowing if a young person agrees to live and work in Maine for five years after graduation. In other words, everyone else would pay for this.
Also, the state would designate an official rap song. One that’s cool, but without profanity. Or misogyny. Or violence. Or racism. Or … you can see why this isn’t going anywhere.
The weird thing is Maine is already well positioned to appeal to millennials, even without bribery schemes or phony efforts to appear hip. Through a bit of foresight and a hefty dose of luck, the state blundered into a series of political decisions that could make it a millennial magnet.
Let’s start with abortion. This procedure has been legal all of millennials’ lives. If (when) the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, that generation is going to notice that right no longer exists. Young women, who are not likely to accept being told by the state what they can do with their bodies, will consider gravitating to places where their right to choose is protected. Maine is among the securest of those locations.
Even when anti-abortion Republicans controlled the governorship and both chambers of the Legislature after the 2010 elections, they didn’t dare attempt to pass any serious abortion restrictions because they feared voter backlash.
The next Maine attraction is LGBTQ rights. Millennials consider issues of gender identity a personal matter that needs no government involvement. Marry whomever you like. Use the public restroom of your choice. Be as ambiguous as suits you when designating your sex on your driver’s license. This state has long recognized its legal responsibility to treat everyone equally, and it’s made strides in doing so socially. We’re not perfect, but we’re getting better.
Finally, there’s marijuana. The jolly green is legal here, as most millennials think it should be. Medical pot is readily available, and stores selling it for recreational purposes will be opening once the Legislature finishes making the regulations sufficiently complex that no one who’s inhaled a little Alice B. Toklas will ever decipher them. Again, not perfect, but as long as the black market is thriving, it’s acceptable.
I’m not saying millennials are only interested in sex and drugs. They also want good jobs, high-speed internet and avocado toast. But they do care about respect, personal privacy and common sense. Once this generation compares Maine to states doing an imitation of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” they’ll discover we’re lit.
If you think you’re more woke than me, email [email protected].