tv After Words with Senator Ben Sasse CSPAN June 11, 2017 9:59am-11:01am EDT
about, you know, getting back up when you're knocked down because everybody is. where you find the courage to do that and what helps you along the way, and it's, as i say, proven to be an extraordinary, very personally meaningful but painful experience. it really is painful. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> up next on "after words," nebraska senator ben saws explores how to engage children and young adults to become independent, active and engaged citizens in his book, "the vanishing adult." senator saws is interviewed by -- senator sass is interviewed by the founder and president of the millennial action project. >> host: senator ben sasse, republican senator from nebraska, thank you so much for joining me. >> guest: good to be with you.
>> host: i'm excited to discuss your book, it's called "the vanishing american adult." and what i find striking about it as i was reading it is i think the idea for this probably origin naval nateed long before -- originated long before you became a u.s. senator. it's about how we're raising our kids. tell us more about how you decided to write this book and where the idea originated in. >> guest: first of all, thanks for having me. good to be with you. the book is 100% not about politics, and it's 99% not about policy. it's about a whole bunch of upstream issues in our culture well prior to american politics. and be you're right, i'm a business-turn around guy, but i'm by training an american historian, and i spent five years as a college president. it started when i was 37 years old, so eight years old, i was brought in because i cared about this 130-year-old liberal arts institution. it was in financial trouble. i'm the turn-around guy, i had a whole bunch of family
connections, my parents met at this school. my grandpa came back from world war ii and worked at this college for 35 years. i grew up on this campus because of my family, and it was in trouble, but i wasn't going there for anything connected to student culture. i was restructuring the department and thinking about campus operations and where we would grow and if we'd buy another college or if we'd merge or expand into ohm omaha. and i got there, and one of the things that caused me to lose sleep was what was happening in student culture. you're right, i've been in the senate for two and a half years, i'm one of five people in the senate who's never been a politician before, but this book originates in my mind as a worry when i was a college president
currently reading, thinking sociology, history, the economic moment that were at had all these vignettes that crystallized it. one is the story of a christmas that you mentioned. we have a lot of special instances at this college in nebraska and the kids that get work in the athletic department or the development or fundraising department, they tend to be the best of the best and we have a big athletic arena there and one year they were decorating the facilities for the holidays and there was a 20 foot christmas tree going to be assembled in the atrium entrance to the basketball arena and a bunch of the students were assigned to decorate the tree and these
are hearty, healthy kids. kids who should be leaning in. and they decorated the bottom eight feet and packed up and were leaving and one of the vice president's happened by and she said what's going on, why isn't the work done? they said we used all the decorations on the bottom half, didn't know how to get higher and she said they refused to bring you a ladder, did anyone think to ask ? everyone shrugged their shoulders with passive any. this book is a constructive book, there's no get off my lawn screaming in this book but there was something that crystallized around this idea of capacity as opposed to figuring out how to solve that problem and as we unpack in the book there are a bunch of ways that is playing out across the generation that largely has grown up insulated from work. it's odd to be 19 and not already to have had seven or eight or 10 years of work experience in your history, it's a new thing in american life and our kids are so annoyed from work you talk about this passive any, a decline of agency among the generation of kids coming up right now. what are the forces that are
driving? you paint these vivid pictures and another one that stands out is the fear, i think it was your friend's daughter on the cell phone watching youtube videos all day. you see these stories playing out but what is really driving me climate of agency that you're talking about? >> couple things, the distinction between production and consumption is an important idea. it's also something we should feel in our belly because we lived it and we live at the richest time in the richest place all of human history, that's a good thing.we should be grateful we are a nation of 320 million that's overwhelmingly free from material deprivation as been known throughout most of human history but one of the downsides of that is our moment in economic history at a place where we raise our kids largely insulated from the extremes of work. enter gatherers and so from
the beginning of time until 11,000 years ago, until 150,000 years ago you didn't have the concept of job choice, you just became eight or 10 or 12 or 14 and you did more of what grandma and grandpa did. you were called into the clergy or law, became a defined profession about 200 years ago, before the emergence of medicine a lot of it was battling snake oil salesman but by and large you have didn't have the idea of job choice until the industrial revolution. that was scary and unsettling but it only happened once, you left college, migrated across the ocean or to the city, you picked a job and you had until death or retirement. we live in an era where we have job choice forevermore and yet you don't have the exposure to different work in an urban, suburban, exurban household arrangement the way almost everybody would before. there's also something we can talk about the media environment because that's a contributing factor>> on this topic of economics , we are in this postindustrial age and we're expecting young
people towork multiple jobs , probably more jobs than ever in the history and that is one of the key driving forces here. i think one of the arguments is that we're not sure if the younger generation is prepared to do be nimble and able to move from job to job as these disruptions are taking place. the question of whether we can adapt to a fast-changing economy, is that part of it? >> i think that our twentysomethings coming-of-age are going to have to be more resilient than anybody has ever been before at exactly the moment where more is going to be expected because of the postindustrial economy. we're attending to bubblewrap than more, not doing enough to celebrate scar tissue. our tissue is the foundation of future character and we're not having that share conversation. you mentioned the job change that comes after high school. by and large, students that are going to graduate this spring and summer from
college are going to change jobs three times. not just jobs, change industry three times in their first decade. that's new and all the unsettling, scary stuff that produces progressivism during the industrialization. was about the idea that job disruption created all these unsettling ripples into neighborliness and human capital and social networks. a lot of what people panicked about that is what we are going to experience at work speed forevermore. going to have 45, 50-year-old getting disrupted not only out of jobs but out of whole industries. were going to create a civilization of lifelong learners and no civilization has ever done that and exactly as we're going to have this new challenge, we're bubblewrap in our kids longer and longer through adolescence. there's no blame laying in
this book, it's meant to be constructive. it is directed at parents and grandparents for not having a conversation about the new challenges of resilience that are required, this is not aboutmillennial's being lazy, this is about us not having a conversation about what dry job retraining will look like . >> if you touch on policy in the book, the closest you get is the education chapter. you talk about the eight through 12 jewish and we have and you see obviously a lot of failings. i think that's the one filling in the book, and is it true you homeschool your kids? >> we do what we consider hybrid schools. my kids opt into the public high school a quarter of the time and come on the road. basically we are geographically split as a family. we live in a farm town an hour outside of where i grew up and my wife who is a longtime public high school teacher and my dad was a public high school teacher and i went to public high school, we love the american educational system but for geographic reasons, i think
i'm the only commuting dad in the u.s. senate. my kids are 13, 15 and six and i bring a kid with me every week. i get home on friday and my wife tells me which kid annoyed her most and that becomes my date for the next week so wetake our kids on the road but we do some tutoring , some that we hire out, some public schooling and some online stuff. we use a lot of that as well. >> very cool. so in addition to parents having this intentional conversation with their kids about the economic disruptions happening, what can we change in public policy so that our education system is better preparing young people for the new economy? >> great question. i want to reiterate the book is 100 percent not about politics and not about policy but i knew people were going to want to talk about policy as well so let me put a postscript in the book.
this wasn't a policy book but if it were here are some of the things to talk about next. a few of the things i try to flag our number one, i think this new concept of grade 13 is a bad idea. we should have some understanding of where we got that secondary education because it is unmatched and a great benefit but it's unmet. it's a mixed blessing. at the end of the civil war about one percent of americans were high school graduates. by world war ii almost 80 percent were. today is not much more than 80 percent so there hasn't been a lot of change but we've created institutionalized experiences for 14, 17, 18-year-old because of industrialization. it was a melting pot experience. it was for good and ill americanization stuff going on but ultimately what happened is we realized it was a lot of work that wasn't dangerous and dehumanizing forces what was happening with child labor in factories but before that kids have grown up as hunter gatherers and in farming communities doing a lot of work and our
leaders, our national conversation from 1870 to 1940 but we needed to institutionalize this time. again, i think it's been good to have mass education. i'm a strong believer in public funding of educational experiences but we should have more debate about institutional form. we need more pluralization of the experience to take a lot of the 17, 18-year-old kids and say you should have the majority of your waking hours sitting inside in a classroom as a sort of passive recipient of knowledge. wealso need to be wrestling through what does it look like to be an active learner that pursues the world , that climbed the mountain, that learns to work, that deliberates about your body and intergenerational experiences and what is a little soft stoicism look like, what does a limiting of our consumption look like and i wonder that we have over learned the lessons of secondary education as if it's an unmitigated good.
we're trying to expand that concept in higher education so 41 to 50 governors right now are remaking their k-12 education bureaucracy as a grade 16 bureaucracy. preschool to kindergarten, that's an important debate about literacy and intervention, as a meaty debate we should have but grade 13 to 16 is a dangerous idea. you don't want to take tertiary education and remake it on a secondary education model as passively in spoon feeding. we want to do the opposite. we want pluralized forms for higher ed and midcareer job training and what that the crowd down into grade 12, 11 and 10. we want to teach our kids at some point you flip the switch and you go from being a passive recipient of instruction from the front of the classroom to being an active learner that wants to throw open the doors to the library and shake the trees of nature and fruit and demand more learning. what socrates was saying when he says you need a pregnant
question to educate somebody, he's saying the soil isn't for trial unless the soil is crying out for the seed. you can't firehose seed at a 19 or 21-year-old and think they're going to learn, you need them to ask questions so i want them to be rethinking secondary education on a higher education model, not going in the opposite direction. >> as you mentioned in grade 13 mine reminded of one of the ideas that made me think, it was the whole idea about age segregation and how our school systems are promoting that and i think about my own personal life, the value of having friends were much older than me so i can gain a much broader view of the world, gain more familiarity with what's coming and you talk about how this segregation can have a detrimental effect on how the education system needs to take a closer look at that but can you explain that more? >> it's an odd thing in human history, across cultures to have most of europe he or cohorts just be people who
are born in your same birth year and we segregate you in institutionalized school where you tend not to know or experience life with people from different ages. your frontal lobe is forming as a teenager, you're developing self-restraint and becoming aware of time. you're developing wisdom. one of the ways to do that is not a in the narcissistic experience of people going through puberty who believe every challenge of the second is the end-all and be-all of human existence. my daughters are older girls though there are two teenagers, pure slights can feel really painful. this is you wounding my last forever and if you know people who are 70 or 85 in your life and they're telling you stories about their life and where they developed a work ethic and they traveled in ways they persevered and peoplethey loved and lost , the way they recovered, then if you go down this street
and cooked baked cookies a couple times a week, the school slight isn't as lasting an immediate and supposedly eternal. you need lots more intergenerational relationships . there is a curve on plastic surgery consumption in america right now it's kind of extraordinary and there may be places and times and needs for certain things but one of the things that's happening isn't just a kind of natural pursuing of the fountain of youth, fleeing mortality and being scared of death and the fact that the world is broken, that is as old as the curse in the garden needs to be but there's something different about our time and place that has a sort of narcissistic attachment only to the immediacy of this minute. to have a cotton candy like experience, one of the best ways to do that is wisdom from knowing different generations. the same thing is with our teens knowing about babies and people that need them,
there's a responsibility taking for a 17-year-old had to know some two-year-olds. in our family we do things, we will figure out how to babysit together as a family, not because it's great fun when you have limited leisure time or recreation. but if our kids have to learn to attend to and care for somebody else, they recognize their responsibility to the community. >> in terms of this professional adolescence you talk about and the transition to adulthood, you talk about among those things are developing logical reasoning skills, the willingness to endure torture for a long-term gain and i sort of am thinking about our political system. as congress stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence? >> this book is not about congress and yet, there's the short-term is in the city that is really quite bizarre. the american experience is that the center of life is not politics.
the center of life is not power. we distinguish between government and community on purpose. alexis tocqueville as a travel writer in the 1830s, it was such a literate audience that most of our viewers do, is 1500 pages. it feels like a heavy book. the binding off it and read the seven-page chunks around your house because that's really how the book was built. he was writing travel dispatches back to france to explain america and de tocqueville said you wanted to expand the economic dynamism of america. it was diversity, free speech, religion, protests. that was new. the american exceptionalism is a lot about the anthropological claim that built a special community but nobody in europe thought we do have economic dynamism. all of a sudden there is all this dynamism around the
transportation revolution, the canal evolution, putting out the lead to a factory system. no one comes to america and wants to explain it to europeans and he said america had the economic dynamism and i went to washington dc to find the meaning of america and he gets here and says it's kind of a swap where people don't work that hard. it is not that interesting so he traveled out to 17 or 25 states to the capital to try to figure out what's the meaning of america and he wrote back and said rotary club is the meaning of america. it's communal, these people believe in neighborliness and persuasion. it's voluntary, not compulsory and so much of america is about work portion where you raise your kids, where you participate in rotary or volunteer or coach little league. right now dc is a strange place because a river of money flows through there, is five or six of the richest counties of america are the
sensors where the lobbyists live and yet we're not focused on anything long-term. local parties are mostly about explaining why they are worse than we are. we don't choose the better of two visions, we always talk about the lesser of two evils. there is a perpetual adolescence to the city that is rooted in having become less and less historically minded. are not aware as we people come from. and we're not having a long-term conversation about the policy challenges of things like you and i were talking about before the show . >> what's interesting is you explain your arguments here. you put it in a historical context. and i think maybe one of the few if the only trained historian in the senate, is that right?>> i'm the only one in the senate which is another way of saying that. >> one thing you learn from your study of the senate is that freshmen members would also take almost a year of
listening, learning about the institutions before getting on the floor and you interestingly were first elected in 2014 and spent about a year. >> year from election day so 11 months after arriving. >> you are interviewing senators, learning about institutions and you eventually delivered this extraordinary maiden speech on the senate floor about the state of our republic and the reductionism and the debates, the short-term is and that you mentioned in the senate and it really struck me through this book that we not only need the revitalization in the ways that we are raising our kids and building our communities but in the fundamental institutions of democracy and it seems like there's a connection between those two and i wonder if you see a direct correlation there. >> the senate is the greatest
deliberative body in the world and it should be but it clearly is not and in the little town i'm from, i live outside a 25 person town on a big river in the middle of nebraska, i could name a dozen not-for-profit in my town where their boards do better deliberation than the united states. >> in my town, people distinguish between what problem we're trying to solve before they fight about competing solutions. a distinguish between ends and means and we don't do any of that. people come to visit dc and you go to the gallery and there's usually somebody making a speech up there for c-span and saying thank you for c-span and yet there are other senators on the floor engaging their debate. it's sort of grandstanding and narrowcasting for particular audiences i'm a business turnaround guideline work history.
i did a little bit of private equity and because of the timing i graduated college and 94, the internet was blowing up sector after sector. i got go into a lot of businesses that were in crisis. it's one of the things i learned is that the special privilege of being a newbie you could ask fresh ice questions, i don't have to know the answer to every question when i get to a new sector. there are smart people there but there might be a collective action problem trying to figure out what's going to come next in the travel industry. i worked for a couple big us airlines right before travel travelocity and wikipedia came into existence but it was clear that the court travel industry was going to go away and this digital world was going to come into being. i decided to take that approach when i got the senate. this tradition from the 1790s until the 70s, senator didn't speak for a year. the tradition went away 30 to 40 years ago but when i got here i wanted to spend my time getting to know these people and figure out why doesn't the senate work
because it doesn't, we're not focused on the long-term issue. interviewed a majority of the senators to get to know them well and i'm one of the three or four most conservative people in the senate but i'm not very partisan, i don't think either of these parties are impressive. i wanted to know the people and what are they worried about, why does the senate not work?why are we not tackling the challenges of cyber warfare? why are we not talking about the affordability of benefits where millennial will change jobs faster and faster and as i spent time in private with these people i realize there are some very, very substantial collective action problems which i would summarize as we move into this postindustrial moment, local communities and mediating institutions are being hollowed out, most americans are not politically polarized,they're mostly politically disengage . they're worried about neighborliness and there's loneliness in america but most people are not consuming
tv news talk shows. a small scope of their hyper politically engaged, there's polarization happening but most of the public is checking out of this conversation altogether and i think one of the effects of polarization is that people in these two political parties think the main way they would lose their jobs and frankly one of the things that scary is the biggest long-term a lot of politicians having dc's their own incumbency. there's not a lot of long-term thinking. most people are more afraid of losing a primary in their own party and trying to persuade anybody of the other party. what comes out of that exact same moment, we're fractionalizing media because of the digital revolution where it's impossible for people to and hear from chambers of people who already agree with them. narrowcasting becomes a strike smart strategy if your main goal is reelection but a
big generational project? we need to do right by the next generation i agree with the diagnostics of the problem. how can we think about reforming the institution and particularly how can we see training this new generation of young leaders to be part of the solution? what can meet baby doing and what do we need to be focused on? >> i think there's an important continuum of current policy debates and yet it's subordinate in my mind that you are much bigger thing. one of the longer term policy debate we're not having and above that is all the civics that we don't have in common so let's start at the top level. the top level is american government exists to write a framework for order delivery, that's because usually is doing, trying to structural world where we see most problems can be solvedby power so things have to be done by the private sector . back to de tocqueville, the churches and synagogues and mediating institutions in places where people assembled by volunteerism.
then of those things government can accomplish,the american structure, assume that you would do as much as possible to stay at the local level . that's trying to say nebraska and vermont avenue really different agriculture. you have different challenges in trying to think about how you regulate him of the environmental implications of agriculture. the special stuff but nebraska is the breadbasket of the world and if you got a 10,000 head feedline in nebraska, the pilots newer their have some very specific negative externalities that need to be managed when rain water runs off that menorah pile. most of that stuff managed at the county and state level in nebraska for most of that is it really a federal issue. it's not interstate waterways kind of issue so we should have state and local and of the things that can be managed by federal policy which is now a subordinate third substance, we should prioritize the really most
important urgent long-term stuff and none of that deliberation is happening. then you cascade down to, did we first agree about the first amendment and why freedom of speech, religion, protest, why that stuff means you and i want to protect each other's right to be wrong. we might disagree on fundamental things in life, our forefathers and mothers came here to argue about heaven and hell and decided contract for cultural pluralism, we are not going to solve this by violence. let's protect each other's rights to argue, be protected by violence and less break bread and argue and let's pursue the good, the true and beautiful and talk about poetry and innovation and the better aspects of the next asked. we're not doing that, we don't have that shared narrative so what you get to is a place where we have small ball policy where you start by spending your time trying to demonize the other
person and having a bad motive so we scream at each other even though we're not yet even sure what fight we are having. right now one of the things that's happening in america is we have political leaders were being fundamentally dishonest about what is disrupting the average ration so we have people attacking trade when trade is not just by economic theory but demonstrable evidence of experience, consumers on both sides of any training relationship and trade on that benefits the production in both countries.there are subsector challenges for specific industries that lose out when there's more liberalized free trade. we should have a conversation about trade works because we don't have trade mitigation. you have a conversation about midlife job retraining for those communities, we don't do any of that. you know why? the much your reason jobs are shrinking in duration is because technology, not trade in artificial intelligence and machine learning will accelerate the stock and now that we told people lies, there's this whole horrible
thing that's destroying their local experience, now were down to a manichaean fight and it's my people versus your tried. that's not going to work quite i want today into this more. because of the short term congress, very much aligned with the story you have in the book about increasingly the kids that we are raising because of technology and availability, you talk about becoming in abundance, there's a lot of immediate gratification . there is a move toward short-term thinking and i think money has a big piece to do with it at the community level and perhaps it has something to do with this problem at the congressional level. you think the constant need to raise money is partly what contributes to the short term as a of our debate? i think it is. there's a couple things i want to parse in there but let me say i do believe in the sort of jordan
washingtonian and eisenhower to pick up an adjective view of the world that public service, the belief that they are here as public servants, they want to get back home because that's where you work in worship and innovate. right now we have a political class where people are desperate to get to this little imperial rome as a place to stay for their whole lives and there are people who are very sensitive to where they might go if they lost. they don't want to stay forever and if they lose they want to make sure they got a feathered nest out whatever lobbying shop the land. i don't think term limits are a panacea but i believe a term limit as strongly as one of example of the anti-revolving door policies we should have. i think fundraising is one of the life was of peoples own pursuit of their own incumbency and i think it's usually troubling that politicians spend so much of their time fundraising. some of the public believes that fundraising means a whole bunch of politicians
are in a quid pro quo way brought off to vote a certain way. it's not that, it's that people raise money from the sectors that align with the things they already believe and they do it in a way that limits their creativity to have a big conversation about things that may need to be rethought. one basic example, millennial's don't expect the same firms their whole life. average duration for a primary breadwinner at a job, not a job but a firm in the mid-1970s was 2 and a half decades. today average duration and a firm is like 3 1/2, four years old people are going through disruption of their benefits every time they change jobs in washington has done important work 3 and a half decades ago in getting the portability around pensions. we went from the defined-benefit world to a defined contribution world that was portable.
our healthcare conversations are so behind the times. whether people think the aca or obamacare, i have my own views on that. i'm strongly conservative but the bigger problem is whether you take obamacare and added to the american health system 32,009 or 10 or you don't add obamacare pre-to the 2009 or 10, in both worlds we work toward a system where you had more portability across geographic change and obamacare is not helping to get portability. that's the main driver on insurance.if you listen to american pundits interview the public, people think the main reasons for uninsurance are pre-existing medical conditions, help data or socioeconomic status. those are not the main drivers of uninsurance in america, the main driver is people have 4 to 6 months of uninsurance every 3 and a half to 4 years when they change jobs. that's when you have a car wreck and that's when you develop the pre-existing
conditions of five, 10 and 15 years from now. we can solve the pre-existing condition today, the number isn't that large but whatever, 3 and a half or four percent. it's a number that big, over 10 million probably but it's completely soluble in a nation of 320 million. what you can't solve is all the extra people that are going to develop pre-existing conditions because we're not getting to a world where you have a health policy that goes with you across geographic change and washington isn't focused on any of those things and there it is fundamentally because people tend to raise their money from the industries of today. there is no portability health insurance marketplace so there's a diffusion focus problem. i think millennial the affordable benefits because of the whole 1099 economy that we're experiencing this firsthand and the early adopters in many ways of
these new economic trends. speaking of millennial's, the millennial action project works with lawmakers across the country's or just getting started in public service at the beginning of their career and this generates i think maybe on older and of the demographic, maybe when you're a president at midland there, maybe in college or just graduated. you have someone growing up in the dynamic you're talking about here, evidently grew up with you to and facebook and social media so as this generation is entering public service, what sort of issues and reforms should they be focused on? what would you prioritize because one of the things we hear a lot about from millennial's is we have a broken political system . do i go and make change through other means or do i do it through public service and if so, let workers focus on the small democratic reforms that can enhance the functioning of the system
itself or do we just live in the system we are in and do our best to legislate? >> good question. besides being a us senator on the driver. i do work projects for my constituents, i love to work alongside people and it's not just a way to put bread on the table, it's a fundamental anchor of human identity and i love to work with nebraskans. i started driving last november and it's been a wonderful experience. the money flows to some charity that huber will designate. >> what's your rating? >> i'm a 5.0 right now. people are surprised when their senator shows up to be there driver, they maygreatly on the soft curve . maybe i'll say one cultural thing, one political thing and a couple policy things. i think culturally, we're making a mistake by allowing the word national or community-based or communal to be, become synonymous with
political. we need more places we need to get to know our neighbors don't startwith an assumption that we have nothing in common . i have an odd experience at home every weekend i commute, i can't tell you, i'm a us senator is trying to tackle cyber issues. you take how many people come up to me and complained to me about espn that used to be a place where they had a shared experience that didn't have politics. republicans and democrats will tell me i liked when espn was about sports. espn feels like it has to be an echo chamber of a political fight. this is about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat and it's about pursuit of human achievements, we need more things where we get together with neighbors or where we break bread and work alongside them that don't start with a political right left divine. at a cultural advice for the folks you mentioned. >> politically i think people
shouldn't presume these parties are necessarily enduring in their current form. there should be more skepticism of both of these parties. i'm one of the more conservative people in the senate but i think of myself functionally as an independent who caucuses with republicans because these are these two parties is very oppressive. when you ask people if you identify more with the republicans or democratic party and if you don't give them the choice to say none of the above, you don't give them an option, 40 percent of the public interrupts to say none of the above and 20 percent democrat and 25 percent republican. these parties are not impressive so i heard young people are trying to not be locked into a belief that these parties are going to endure forever. i thinkthere's going to be disruption in the space . i think mister trump we could talk about him and lots of different ways. thankfully in the book he's never mentioned. >> but he, one of the things he did i think is open eyes
for oprah and george clooney and mark cuban, the rock. i think you got a whole bunch of people who have a giant u rating in hollywood picking why do i have to wait on these two parties? if i can communicate over and around the media in these political parties, i'm going to consider doing it. i'm not sure all that will play out great but the reality tv campaign and reality tv presidency will cause us to rethink a lot of assumptions. policy level ii of the most fundamental challenges we face , we are getting too little mind share. i think that most tenants and twentysomethings are well aware that they're going to have to be trained when their 40 and 45.huge part of the opioid crisis which is a true tragic epidemic in our life is partly a phenomenal of what's happening in midcareer
hopelessness. you have a whole bunch of things happening, many contributing factors. there's a different supply side to the opioid drug chain but one of the things that's happening is people lose their job today at 45 or 50 or 55, by and large they don't get employed again. in jd vance's book elderly elegy, you've got little pieces of this as well but we have to recognize that we're going to have a multi-career economy in the future and that really reorients the way you think about choices you make about the sequencing of more education and work ethic development and more education and differential experiences across different industry sectors. there's going to be an iterative process and we tend to act like we load people up with more education and they will get to a place where they're done with it, it's not true. we need a generation of lifelong learners and last, i'll let you back in but i would find that i think cyber is going to transform the nature of warfare inside the next decade and the lines between military targets and
civilian targets both industry and civil society, we are not already what comes next and i think a lot of people leave that america is always more prepared than everyone else. the resilience we can demonstrate is unparalleled if we put our mind to the task and right now we have a bunch of adversaries around the globe that are doing things the plan for the future in cyber and we are not. >> going back to your point about political disruption in the parties, that is one of the most fascinating trends we're seeing among this lineal demographic. the fastest growing political affiliation today among millennial's is no affiliation. independent, a plurality of independence. millennial identified as independence and i think you'd probably agree but i want to get your thoughts is that there'sgoing to be a breaking point . either the parties have to reinvent themselves to become more responsive to the needs of the future of our country to have constructive debate again or there will be some kind of emergence of some
other political identification that really drives the future of politics because millennial's, what we see is they don't want to the boston to either party identification. the field both parties have been ineffective and that's why you see so many independents affiliations. the barriers are still too high for independence to get elected, we don't see that happening yet but what you're saying is don't lose that. don't lose that independence. be an independent thinker and in fact that's what we need right now's well said. i'm a dad, a husband and i'm in the brassica football attic but i'm a conservative and republican but when i rank and order all those identities, if i get them out of order there's something wrong with me. i'm a dad and a husker football attic. you're a pastor, a wisconsin football fan. the rest is still the linear
wing and winningest team in the last five years. my football loyalty nebraska is a communal experience. it's a religion for a lot of us, it's an identifier but if i've got my football loyalties ahead of my responsibilities as dad, there's wrong with my soul and i think there is a danger that many people who want to be engaged in politics think you're supposed to take your partisan identity and your partisan loyalties and put that realty at the top of your identity. that's a bizarre thing to do. it creates warped and deformed people and i think these political parties don't really have a long-term vision or for the things that come next so i find it kind of encouraging that more and more millennial's are saying hold up, i'm not ready to identify with either of those two parties and in this last cycle i think you could make a strong case that donald trump successfully navigated
a hostile takeover of the republican party to not have fixed policy views are believed and he certainly doesn't have republican views on the vast majority of issues whether you agree or disagree with mister trump, one of the things we will see in retrospect is these parties look invincible and here's a guy comes along and says i might just use that as a tool and i think the democrats are probably a little more fragile as a party and they recognize as well and it would be healthy for people who want to be cynically engaged in public minded to have a healthier dose of skepticism in the organization of the two parties. >> you mentioned president trump, you've not mentioned in the book but i think you make some implicit references to him. you talk about the consequences of a declining civic culture playing out today and let me offer this and get your response. one, i wonder what you make of the references you are
referring to president trump or at least the trump phenomenon where we do have the president seems to have more authoritarian tendencies where you want someone to kind of just handle it all and we don't want to think for ourselves. second, how do you reconcile with the primary demographic supporting president trump, that was very much responsible for his election but not the kids or millennial's but americans age 65 and older. how do you reconcile that? >> once you get to a binary choice, lots of strange things can happen and lots of reasonable people and argue about what choice sits in front of you. most of why i'm in public life, this being one of five people in the senate was never met a politician before his 10 and 25 years in the future. rarely is it you see them actually doing something on tuesday or a month from tuesday that's going to change the world. we have a budget process than in the last 39 years only
four times have we spent 30 percent of the public money by budget process. most of the time we get to the fiscal year and have crisis and a government shutdown and we don't have resolution and numbness. there's not a long-term goal around and i'm interested in long-term solutions but i do think we do have a crisis of short-term is an that's in the culture and is clearly evident in our politics in the last couple years but especially in the 2016 presidential cycle where we do have a declining sense of how you cultivate empathy and so this book is the managing american adults, two thirds constructive project about that formation that i spent five chapters in a row talking about things you should be spending your time on as a 13 to 19-year-old or mom or dad or grandpa could be urging you to spend time on and they're trying to think about limited consumption to develop a work ethic, to travel and that's not the rich person's european travel, it might be
going one neighborhood away and getting to know people in a community that organize their eating and work experiences differently but intergenerational experiences and literacy is worth focusing on at this point. berg is the father of america . if you want to find one person that's the sort of sinequan on. if there's one person that you could have in america, is gutenberg's printing press because america created a mass literacy that was highly correlated with creating a mass middle-class but assumed that the things that make you happy in life are just aristotle's philosophy and a whole bunch of theology, commercial science is now confirming as well that there only five drivers of human advocate and their basic things. family, you have a local community of a couple friends that feel your pain when you hurt, they feel pleasure when you're happy, they choose to because they love you, they had a sense of self. i don't choose to be saddened by kids her, i just.>> we
had a framework to make sense of that and fundamentally, you have worked as meaningful? those four things all drive people back to agency, to action, to local community, to build it not to a passive dependency and a yearning for a soft deficit, let's have a public life that will solve all of my problems. literacy is a different thing than this sort of frenetic pace of digital media consumption, i'm obviously as it were driver, i'm a celebrant of the digital economy but there are habits and sort of captions and deliberations that are formed and cultivated by being a leader and not just optionally are you literate but in terms of appetite and a desire to read, do you have a reading list, a habit of reading and right now were not doing that and you can see that playing out in our public life. the average american now reads less than 90 minutes a
day and the older you are the more you read. millennial's are reading much less than 90 minutes a day and we're living in kind of a 2 to 7 minute dopamine hit short-term is him. that doesn't work for deliberative democracy. >> you dedicate an entire chapter to help to build a book and it's about 40 pages so i think you said is under edited. i'll agree. >> so what's in your bookshelf right now? >> i read a lot about the future of the gig economy as you talk about and frankly i'm doing more of my reading unfortunately just because of the cyber moment your. [bleep] in the cab, reading a lot of intelligence products that home on other things we're doing is my wife has become obsessed with totalitarianism last year starting with north korea so she started reading a whole bunch of other things about north korea and started reading them to our kids. j nordlinger has an interesting book, the children of monsters about
families of despots and tyrants over the last centuries so at our house there's been a lot of deliberate station about totalitarianism that has led us to a new found appreciation of american free speech, press, religion. the idea that the media is the enemy of the american people is a fundamentally anti-american argument and claim and we need to celebrate that first amendment together so we are just thinking about totalitarianism both his humanistic sense and also as a cautionary tale but i'm reading a lot of rock now about threats to america. the bunker where you read intelligence products. >> and obviously you have timely issues, a number of totalitarian press and perhaps domestically, and one thing you mentioned as you talk about the kids who are coming-of-age, this coming-of-age crisis and whether they're prepared to be active citizens, that's one of the things you conclude with and making america an idea again chapter.
is you know, we want to raise smart kids but you're saying it's not just a question for each individualfamily, it's a question for our entire country, the health of our republic . you made a quote at the end, you say the question is whether or not people will control themselves to the control of another. and i have to think you're thinking of the current affairs when you wrote that sentence? >> just the current affairs of politics but the current idea of self-restraint, self-discipline, self-governance. all of that which is a pretty glorious thing in human history, there have been many places where people believe that the individual citizen and local community and family was possible, that kind of self-governance and restraint. it all presumes a certain habit pattern. the world is a broken place. there are people who will take your life and liberty and stuff and we need
security and people are inevitably going to be fearful of the brokenness of the world that could generate into all against all so there will be order keeping, there will be security. the american republic in the experiment presumes that local citizens know the virtues of self-restraint and i do worry that we arenot deliberating about that enough . our teens are twentysomethings have come of age, not blaming millennial's but asking are we having this broader debate? they don't tend to know instinctively the distinction between production and consumption so we act like more and more consumption might satisfy you even though all the data shows that more and more consumption doesn't lead to satisfaction, it leads to a kind of cotton candy like hangover. there may be a dopamine hit your seven minutes in, not just in my physical consumption of food , my cat and candy terminology but our digital consumption. >> it leads to a short-term is and where we really
believe something world changing in new has happened in the last two minutes and i'm active on twitter, i like twitter. >> it's not a governance staff, ben sass is a dad who has a lot of fun in the world and is educating my kids on drones so i like twitter but there's something wrong with my habits and affections if i think i might have missed out on something in the last two or 20 minutes. we need a longer-term set of sensibilities and habits and were not tending to that formation for our teams. >> let me paint an additional narrative and get your response. millennial's today and you're obviously concerned with how young people are facing the future of our democracy, young people today have especially millennial's a high service participation rate in the country. we are working more jobs than ever before. we are increasingly
independent-minded as we talked about earlier. and have as a historian you know that political transformations historically have been coming from young people whether it's doctor king who in his millennial days when he led the montgomery bus boycott or delivered i have a dream to wear all millennial age, jefferson was 23 when he wrote the declaration of independence, james madison was 36 when he wrote the constitution, 29 when he was elected to congress. >> he would agree with you. >> sometimes we forget is history because they wear powdered wigs and we see them as marble statues now but when you actually look at this, the majority of the founding fathers since 1776 were under the age of 40 so i think the question becomes does this next generation of millennial's have the energy, have the citizenship skills that you are talking about for the challenges of our time?
and i just go back to millennial being cynically active from a voluntary stand point. there's a study showing that the number one factor young people are choosing in their career is what type of impact they can have on their larger community. how do you reconcile that narrative with the narrative you paint in the book, not to adjust that it's exclusive but one were threatening with. >> great distinction too. first of all i would say they have the wherewithal and the perseverance and toughness to do it. >> by potential, absolutely, my current habits, we're not doing enough of that and when you talk about millennial's understanding and working any different kinds of jobs , that the future is a multi-career economy, with you that millennial's understand that it's more than the generation or two about them. bill gates has some really helpful lines that massive
economic changes in the past that really unsettled societies, industrialization and the rise of the big tool economy being the most approximate analogy. >> 1870 1920, those were intergenerational changes, we've been using the term here postindustrial. we don't use the term post agricultural or d agricultural is asian, we talk about industrialization because we knew what that connects. we don't know what comes next right now so we say postindustrial is another way of throwing in the towel and saying the digital economy, the it economy, the portable economy but we don't know what it is so will call it postindustrial. >> what gates believes is that then the farmer and the farmer and his wife, the farmer and his husband, they didn't leave the farm from technical technological substitution reduce the need for labor. they realized their kids would have to go to the city, were all factors to the city. our millennial's now, this is
not going to be intergenerational. it's not that they're going to grow up and their kids will have to do something different. they know they will be portable many times through their life but at the exact same time as we should be having a debate about what are the habits and the infections that lead to the kind of skills that will navigate well that 40 and 50 or something disruption, were doing more and more bubble lettering, more and more helicopter parenting. we have the safe space movement on the college campuses which should be troubling to everybody who believes in the first amendment. 41 percent of americans under the age of 35, pushing half of people , they think the first amendment might be dangerous because you must use your freedom of speech to say something that would hurt someone else's feelings. that's kind of what america is about. that we're tough enough that we can have an agreement to protect each other some violence and protect each other's right to be wrong so that we can debate, not just
so i'm a trader persuade you but i might recognize the humility that i might need to be persuaded by you and we should have a meal together and wrap up those questions and if you're creating a movement on campus when people are never supposed to encounter ideas they already agree with, i don't know why you're paying for tuition because education is about encountering a bunch of ideas you don't agree with and i think we have a protective bubble experience that parents are trying to facilitate but what we should be doing together is celebrating the scar tissue >> that's right. >> dark issue is the foundation of future character . >> i think you write this book because you are optimistic about the future but you think we just need to have this conversation now in order to have a more dry writing democracy. >> one of the key moments that led me to write this book, the idea came to me , i started wrestling out of it and once i got to the senate a little over a year ago my wife and i shipped off my 14-year-old daughter to a cattle ranch and wanted her to have some tough love experiences and having to check, it's a very large
cattle ranch in texas so the largest cattle state in the union, this was a 800 pounds be born in march and nebraska, it's: an add how bored 3 am in march in nebraska might get separated from mama, you need to tag them. my daughter was going to have to go out and suffer. she was going to have to go on a rubber glove to her shoulder. she might lose a watch and they're delivering a baby cow. this was a new experience and we loved it and she loved it. she was suffering and she didn't like it yet she knew it was a good thing for her. it was forming character. i turned her texan to tweet every time she would text me something and it had the exact are of a 14-year-old girl dealing with a lot of blood and poop. the experience of delivering house is messy.
and i would to now. it became this viral event in nebraska that i traveled the state the next couple months even in the midst of a controversial presidential campaign, the main thing the rations wanted to talk to me about was how their kids could suffer too. i give them the ranchers phone number because they wanted to ship their kids for character building, habit-forming experience. i believe there is a burgeoning movement of people in america want to be having a shared conversation with their chin about how we do right by kids, how we build more perseverance and grit and it's not chiefly a political conversation, it's a neighborly conversation ask senator sasse i wish we had more time to talk but i promise when i have kids i will make them do manual labor on a cattle ranch. the senator ben sasse, thank you for joining me today. thank you. >>.