Andrew Baumann and Anna Greenberg write in their article for The Atlantic that by 2024 the growth of the millennial generation will change the political landscape and have a consequential impact on policy-making and governing. Millennials are those born between 1985 and 2004. In the 2008 election 25 million millennials voted–this was out of 48 million. By 2020 the number of millennials eligible to vote will increase to 90 million. This means that millennials will make up more than 35 percent of the electorate by 2024. Andrew and Anna write, “They hold far more progressive views on social issues. More than 60 percent support gay marriage, and they are much more supportive of legalizing marijuana, promoting racial justice, and restricting guns, among other issues.” Millennials seem to be supportive of a larger more activist government that does more to promote common good.
The Center for American Progress found that young Americans are much more progressive and liberal than previous generations. It is likely that millennials will move the country in a more progressive direction as they reach adulthood. There are some stark differences between the millennial generation and those that came before it. Millennials do not find the military as the primary way to fight terrorism and they do not feel the need to compromise civil liberties for safety. Although many would like to reform social security, they definitely want government to guarantee affordable healthcare and contraceptives. Many have progressive views on energy and climate change, while older politicians deny climate change even exists. Even across education classes millennials agree, creating consensus among many progressive ideas. They believe that the country has gone too far mixing politics and religion and are less likely to believe America is exceptional.
Although some argue that in fact millennials are self-centered and disengaged spending their time on facebook and other social media, millennials have also become very passionate about social and environmental causes and technological and medical advancement. According to civicyouth.org millennials are more engaged than previous generations, they are more involved in local politics, they dislike spin and polarized debates, and look for opportunities and solutions to public issues. Millennials feel they have a responsibility to better society, but mainly to help others. They are very optimistic about creating change through working together even though most find the political system corrupt and counter to the general welfare of Americans. Millennials want to be engaged and inspired, so politicians that fight with their opponents instead of trying to solve problems many find disenchanting. This is why the number of millennials that voted in 2012 decreased: many were disappointed with President Obama. Millennials want to be pragmatic and find common goals–they want to get past the polarization and solve problems. They want to act, instead of just discussing things. With such a dysfunctional, corrupt and immature Congress progress is not a sure thing, but we obviously have an opportunity to change things for the better and it would be extremely sad to squander it.
To hopefully increase your optimism here’s a video from The Brookings Institution on millennials.