I’m an 18 to35 year old adult that is registered to vote. I’m part of that key voting bloc that Pew Research center has aptly titled the Millennial voters having come of age in the New Millennium.
With only two days left until the election many of us aren’t sure how things stand. Since the major party candidates announced in 2015 so much has changed, and so have we.
Our views about democracy in America and what we envision about the future of our nation are different now. For some this might mean a call to join the Clinton campaign to elect the first female president or to support Trump for a myriad of sometimes bizarre if not any racist reasons, and others are reevaluating the two party system as a whole and struggling to see where their voice fits in.
But what do we really think, what do the statistics say, and how can we make our voice matter on that fateful day in November and beyond?
When the campaigns started the major parties didn’t know what to do to market to younger voters. Because since 2012 they’d all been told that we are an incoherent voting bloc with no cohesive political views, at least that’s what Vox told the world. The parties just knew they wanted us to vote for their candidates. Young voter turnout in presidential elections has historically been around fifty percent or lower according to a Pew Research Center Social Trends Report from 2014:
The millennial generation started voting in 2004 and that’s when youth voter turn-out rose four percent in one cycle, peaking in 2008 with a 16% increase. Those numbers are a big deal, especially when electing the next leader of the free world is on the line. Unfortunately in the marketing haze and candidate kerfuffle of this cycle’s interminably long campaigns there has been limited public data released on our political persuasions. No wonder why no one is sure how to cater their PR to gain our votes. At least in May 2016 the Pew Research Center published the most recent findings about us and guess what? Nearly seventy percent of us are registered and eligible to vote.
Even greater news is that we are actually turning up to vote, but not in the numbers like we did in 2012 and not for Clinton or Trump. In fact, a report by CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, found that we voted in the overwhelmingly for Senator Sanders. By which, I mean we ‘felt the Bern’ in greater numbers than Trump or Clinton voters combined. That is amazing, but our candidate has lost and many of us now feel lost.
What the heck do we do? We’re registered and supposedly have voting power but the candidate the majority of us supported won’t be on the ballot. Since we’re as unsure as you probably are, we decided to ask our friends via social media. We asked about how they felt about the campaigns, the candidates, what do they think about third party candidates, if they attended any political events so far and if those affected their view, and of course will they vote and if so for whom. All 20 were disappointed with the 2016 campaigns and election results thus far.
Beyond being disappointed, their views on democracy changed greatly since 2012 and even 2015. They all voiced concerns about the “imperialistic capitalist two-party system” calling it “rigid and rigged against the masses to benefit the few” and these are the more timid responds. Ouch, poor DNC and GOP, we have unfriended and blocked you.
The respondents that tended to fall into the group calling for socialism, complete reform, or gutting the entire system had similar voting plan. They are going to vote for: ‘Jill Stein’, ‘not voting’, or ‘Trump’ adding things like “let’s burn this whole system down and start over. If anyone can bankrupt the US political system, Trump can.” That is a bit dark yet we feel you, though we don’t quite see how voting for someone that wants to ban our immigrant and Muslim friends is helping things.
The remaining respondents plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. Californians, Georgians, New Yorkers alike are saying, “I’d be thrilled to have a woman become president, I think it’s about time we did.” to the less enthused, “I would vote for Clinton, only to supersede Trump, who is the greater of two evils.” to the super- excited “Hillary Clinton has the experience and intelligence to help move our county forward.”
Several people surveyed have volunteered on her campaigns or have been active Democratic Party members, but two who have such backgrounds are now planning to vote for Jill Stein and one is not planning to vote at all.
We’re officially still a confused voting bloc and now a little bit depressed. We may have to take a online quiz to decide. The unaffiliated, anonymous user site Isidewith told us about tons of great candidates and their views. It had us take the obnoxiously long quiz to help us decide which was the right one for us. Even if this might cause a proverbial split-ticket at least we have a clearer view of whom to vote for and why.
If Millennials are agreed upon anything as a unit, it is that we want to be involved in politics and desire candidates worthy of our votes. All of the respondents have gone to a political rally, house party, or a ‘meet-the-candidate’ event. The vast majority of them have volunteered on one or more political campaigns at federal, state, and local levels. Several people who were surveyed have joined ‘Our Revolution’. Bernie Sander’s NGO to motivate people to stay politically involved and even run for office. The NGO officially launched August 24th continues to reach its audience online.
Online– that has been the key to the limited but game changing success of Bernie Sanders and hopefully the key to continuing to keep us involved in US politics. We’re ready to harness our political power and look forward to great congressional, state, and local candidates championing our views of democracy. The Hill is still calling us unicorns to be caught. And we’re totally into civic engagement and pro-unicorn (duh). But mass-media trying to catch us, and convince us to vote for a certain candidate in the ‘rigid two-party system’? A system that 20 smart Millennials just told us “doesn’t sit well” with them? We’ll have to pass. We’re engaged with media 24/7 online and in real life. We know when we’re being played by the PR gods and goddesses, and we’re ready to make our own informed decisions for the rest of this endless political cycle and the ones to follow
Political changes don’t happen overnight, but we know that if we raise our voices, vote, volunteer, and run for office we can chip away at the monolith that is our government and chisel it into one that supports the future we want for ourselves and future generations.