Millennials are projected to overtake baby boomers as America’s largest generation. Already a force in the economy, political pundits salivate at the prospect of millennials mobilizing at the ballot box. Yet, the 2018 midterm election turnout show that this quiet powerhouse generation has yet to figure themselves out yet.
These “could be” revolutionists came out in the 2016 elections with 51% of 18-29 year olds turning out to vote. But by the 2018 Midterm election, the youth vote dropped to 31%-still respectable due to the major Get Out the Vote efforts targeting young people but still underperforming their baby boomer counterparts.
Academics and campaign strategists opine in an almost mystical way trying to explain why the Millennials don’t use their numbers to influence public policy makers. Lack of civic education, confusion over polling locations, photo id laws all are at the top of the list of explanation of youth low turnout numbers. Most analysis ends though in an exasperated claim that Millennials just don’t think their vote counts. I don’t believe that for a minute.
Millennials have the greatest access to education and information than any generation before them. They are the beneficiaries of an empathetic and nurturing society, often affirmed and cultured in ways previous generations never experienced.But they are also mindfully cured and seasoned in a culture that focuses on the “me” experience rather than the “we” mindset needed in a functioning democratic republic. Without the development of an understanding of the importance of a neighbor, the power of a team, and the fundamental civic commitment Rotarians coined in their creed “others before self”, Millennials may squander their power to make change. But they are too smart for that…just give them time. I believe in them.