Growing Up in a World Without Trust


For Millennials, it’s shocking but not unexpected.  Of course, Trump would sell America out. That’s what leaders do.

I came of age with 9/11. It was the beginning of my freshman year in college. It was just one of many world and national events that has disrupted Millennials’ ability to trust employers, banks, government, any institution. Yesterday’s Trump-Putin press conference cemented even further that leaders cannot be trusted.

What does it feel like to grow up in a world without trust?

Millennials are far less trusting of others than older generations. When asked “Can most people be trusted?” 40% of Baby Boomers, 31% of Gen Xers, but only 19% of Millennials said yes. Early life events have really damaged Millennials’ belief in others to do the right thing, particularly within institutions.

The corporate and economic world has been dealing with technological disruption for the past twenty years. For Millennials, disruption is normal. Our reaction has not been despair but pragmatism.

However,  our pragmatism is really being tested.  We have become accustomed to Trump dumping his garbage everywhere causing confusion and misinformation. However, Trump’s behavior with Putin, a bully kissing up to a bigger bully,  is reprehensible.

Can we really vote ourselves out of this? Or has Trump’s political disruption gone so far that we now have to worry about the sustainability of our institutions? This situation is incredibly ironic. Millennials dislike institutions but we will have to be saviors of them. 

Our crisis of leadership, particularly political leadership, is inflicting deep scars on the psyche of the Millennial generation. It is a strong reason why we are relatively unattached to organized politics and identify ourselves as independents. We will vote for people who we think are doing the right thing regardless of party.

Talking about leadership, I know many people on the far right feel about Obama the way I feel about Trump.  But enough is enough. In addition to experiencing 9/11 in my freshman year, that was also the year I met Barack Obama who was a state senator. He came to speak to my Honors American Government class of 20 people at the College of Charleston.  He was an unknown then. Through my twenties, I watched him rise from a local politician all the way to the Presidency with little to no scandals. As a leader, he didn’t bring his garbage to work.  Trump is the complete opposite. He keeps piling more garbage onto America that Millennials will have to clean up.