Baby boomers often call millennials lazy, entitled and narcissistic. If you believe them, then you’d think the country is going to hell in a handbasket when we’re in charge. But have boomers looked into a mirror lately?

The so-called leaders of our nation are, for the most part, from the baby-boomer generation — born between 1946 and 1964 — and a far too many of them completely suck.

To be fair, most boomers aren’t terrible people. My parents are great, and I bet yours are too. So are many of our professors, family members, friends and colleagues who are members of the boomer club.

This dejected view of our elders is directed almost solely at the leaders who emerged from that generation.

Our politics have grown increasingly bitter, divided and nasty over recent years and we have no one else to thank than the boomers who entered public service. Sure, partisan rancor isn’t isolated to our current crop of leaders, but no one today appears willing to end the squabbling.

Public service requires compassion, understanding, compromise and a realization that in order to accomplish anything, you must be willing to work together.

Leaders today exude few, if any, of these qualities and our country is suffering as a result.

Don’t believe me? Flip through the headlines — or, more likely, Twitter. You’re inundated with news, opinions and musings about the recent shutdown of the government, the threat of a default on our nation’s debt and the inability to accomplish anything of substance in Congress.

In order for our representative democracy to function, leaders are elected to work together, form a consensus and accomplish something that betters our society. True, it’s mostly Republican leaders conducting this nonsense — who seem determined to deny President Barack Obama any accomplishments during his presidency — but politicians in general are guilty of this dysfunctional behavior.

Both parties act as if they are absolutely right and the other side is dead wrong. When all fail to see eye-to-eye on any issue, it’s both sides that have a problem.

When I was a child, I was taught the values of sharing, understanding, empathy and compromise. Surely our leaders were taught the same in their younger days. If not, perhaps it’s time for a refresher.

Parents instill in their children that life isn’t always fair, and you’re not always going to get what you want. The public office elected officials hold doesn’t give them permission to fold their arms, throw a tantrum and insist on their position. No matter how hard they try, governing and life simply don’t work that way.

To illustrious leaders unwilling to budge on any issue: Did your parents always buy you a toy when you demanded it? I know mine didn’t, and I’m a better person for it.

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider your ludicrous positions and take action on our nation’s mounting problems before it’s too late.

As we drown in mountains of student loan debt and struggle to find well-paying jobs in a stagnant economy, we are belittled and criticized by the boomers. They call us lazy and entitled, yet they have the fortitude to run our nation’s capital like some two-bit circus, hell-bent on burning down the tent with us inside. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Political ideology and principle replaced rationality long ago, and now the poison has reached the highest levels of government. No longer can our leaders find common ground on even the simplest issues.

Maybe this is their ultimate lesson to the young people of our great country because if we don’t grow from the mistakes of our current leaders, this great experiment in democracy is doomed to die an early death.

The economy has yet to recover from the Great Recession, and our elected officials continue to operate from one manufactured crisis to the next. Today it’s a shutdown of the government, and the future appears very bleak. Americans work together to accomplish great things, and it’s high time for our leaders to do the same.

Joel Mendelson is a UF graduate student in political campaigning. His column runs on Mondays. A version of this column ran on page 7 on 10/7/2013 under the headline "So-called ‘leaders’ are failing us"