Voting Power: Millenials have it, but will they use it?

By Peter Howard




With the next presidential election a little over a year away, candidates are revving their engines and hitting the campaign trails hard.  Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you have undoubtedly seen or read the antics of Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman vying for the GOP nod with the world’s most recognizable comb over. You may also have heard about Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has her sights set on the Democratic nomination, and her scandalous email debacle. There are several other hopefuls trying to win the hearts of American voters, Bernie Sanders (I) running for the Democratic nomination, Jeb Bush (R), and our own Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) just to name a few; and while they may be appealing to many of their constituents, there is one group they do not seem to be reaching: Millennials.

Millennials have now surpassed the Baby Boomers as the largest group of eligible voters, with an estimated number of 75.3 million members of the Millennial generation to the Baby Boomers’ 74.9 million. Yet, civicyouth.org reports that between the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, percentages of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 dropped from 62.3 percent to 57.5 percent; and in the 2014 midterm elections, only 21.5 percent made it to the polls. So, wherein does the problem lie? Why does this generation not fulfill their civic duty and vote? There are a number of reasons that seem viable.

In the ‘90s, presidential candidates would try to appeal to the younger voters by attempting to meet them on their level. Former President Bill Clinton, for example, shredded on the saxophone to a studio filled with college age voters while wearing Blues Brothers sunglasses. They would include young voters in political discussions by bringing issues that concerned them to the table and speak to them in a language the “kids” could understand. Politicians today seem to no longer try and reach out to the younger crowd, instead choosing to focus to the wealthy, more
established older generations who generally have more money to contribute to their campaigns.

Another reason could be that perhaps Millennials are tired of hearing the same ranting over and over from the two political parties that appear to have taken over the modern day political landscape. We are all told regularly that a third party vote is a wasted vote but where in the constitution does it say that a Democrat or a Republican can only run the country? In truth, our bipartisan society has created an uncomfortable environment for open debate among voters of any age. We have been conditioned as citizens to not question the dominance of these two parties. It does not have to be this way though. Because of the size of the millennial generation, they have the ability to bring other political parties to the forefront. By simply reading what the other hopefuls have to offer and listening to their stances on issues that are close to their hearts, Millennials could actually turn a third party vote into a valid option.

Lastly, Millennials are a generation of self-expression. They have had the Internet, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and 24-hour news channels their whole lives, which have caused an information overload for them. They now view voting as an ineffective form of expression. It is difficult for them to imagine that their single vote will make a difference in the sea of millions of other votes. But, the sea comes from drops of rain and that single vote does count. All it takes is going down to the polls and casting your ballot.

Whatever the reason for the lack of voting among Millennials, one thing is certain; they are a generation of outspoken, expressive, sometimes stubborn people who, given the right tools, have the ability to bring about major changes to our political structure for the better. One great resource is votesmart.org where you can learn all of the
information there is about any politician’s views and the causes they support. There is still time to make an educated decision to make sure the right candidate makes it to the White House. All it takes is just a little bit of research and actually voting.

What Next?

Recent Articles