COLUMN: Profile: The Summit generation

By Billy Joe Mills

We have been called “Millennials,” “Gen Y” and “DotNets.” We’re the generation born after about 1978. We don’t really know what we are yet. But, don’t confuse us with the older Gen Xers, the “undesirables,” as my mother would say. So what exactly are we? What do we think and what will we become?

About 18 percent of us are Latino, according to the Pew Research Center, twice as much as the Baby Boom generation. Approximately 38 percent of us are a racial minority compared to just 15 percent of the World War II generation.

Most of us think Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones are idiots. At 58 percent, we’re twice as likely as the oldest generation to support additional gay rights, like adoption. When asked if interracial dating is acceptable, 91 percent of our generation “completely agrees” or “agrees,” compared to just 74 percent for the rest of society.

In fact, we’re generally more socially progressive, except in one surprising area: abortion. Teenage abortions have plummeted from Gen X rates of 100 per 1000 women to just 40 per 1000 women for our generation. We are less likely than any other generation to think that abortion should be generally available and the most likely to think it should never be permitted.

We’re kind of prude, according to statistics from Planned Parenthood. About 54 percent of Gen X high school students reported having sexual intercourse, compared to less than 50 in our generation. We also have fewer sexual partners, but maybe we just have poorer memories or are better liars. In the early 90s, 42 percent of high school students reported having a drug free school – today 63 percent have that impression.

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    We hate Lou Dobbs. Just 34 percent of us think immigration is a big problem compared to 50 percent of the oldest generation. We’re also less likely to see immigrants as a burden and more likely to think of immigrants as strengthening America. We’re more likely to view Islam as a good and peaceful religion.

    We walk Wall Street. We’re significantly more likely than any other generation to have a favorable opinion of corporations and of private retirement accounts.

    Fewer people in our generation have an accurate sense of the number of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq than older generations. This is disturbing given that we’re the generation that has pals, lovers and family stationed in the area. We’re also much less likely to display the American flag.

    Our political identity seems to be forming as a fusion of progressive social values and free market appreciation. This is good news for my moderate third party that I am still predicting will rise up because of our generation’s disdain for extremists and dolts on both sides.

    I call us the Summit Generation. We have all the opportunities that previous generations hoped some future would. We’ve reached the top. Yes, I know, my nickname is just as stupid as the other ones, but it’s fitting. We’re pluralistic, tolerant, energetic, ambitious and smart. Most importantly, we’re optimistic (well, at least 72 percent are about the future of our generation).

    Billy Joe can be reached at [email protected].