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The millennial voter: How our generation is changing politics

By Matthew La CorteSpecial to the Chronicle

Starting with the 2008 election of Barack Obama, extra special focus began to be placed on millennial voters, the group of people under age 30. Young people came out in record numbers to elect their next president and have since developed into the largest generational cohort in the American political breakdown.

We know millennials do not belong to the Republican Party, but polls tell us that they are not so in love with the Democratic Party, either. So who makes up this major component of voters?

To understand millennial voters, one must think about the societal and government backdrop under which this generation has lived: a permanent state of war, massive government surveillance, widespread economic distress and international crises, disappointing presidential candidates, ineffective government institutions marred in polarization and gridlock, closed-minded politicians, rising college tuition, failing public education, and more, all showcased by a meme-and-.GIF- driven Internet where every political mishap is plastered “#GOVERNMENTFAILURE” on social media for our viewing and laughing pleasure.

This generation perceives government through the hysterical words of Ron Swanson and the foreign policy realizations of Showtime’s “Homeland” television series, alongside Macklemore’s same-sex marriage discussion on “Same Love” and Lupe Fiasco’s political diatribes in “Words I Never Said.”

Millennial voters distrust sleazy politicians and look with scorn toward the entire political system. They sculpt their political philosophy through media culture and technology. But politics has not come out of this shift unscathed.

Studies have found that millennials support government intervention into issues like healthcare and higher education, yet have a severe lack of trust in government institutions. Millennials have an attachment to the non-political. They approach solutions to problems with charity and service, not government. They see civic engagement as meaning more than heading to the voting booth once every four years. They acknowledge the importance of serving in their local communities and taking care of their neighbors.

A recent Harvard study found that the volunteerism rate for millennials is 53 percent. The same study found that 56 percent of millennials believe that politicians have different priorities than they have, and 47 percent agreed that “politics today no longer meet the challenges our country is facing.” Could our generation be responsible for ending politics as we know it? Yes.

So what does the future hold? What will be the outcome of a Republican Party that millennials view as archaic and closed-minded? How will millennials alter a Democratic Party that is currently championing a rise in the size, scope and secrecy of government? What will happen to politics once the millennials have had their way?

Our generation is dangerous. We reject parties, we scoff at politics and we are disillusioned with government. To us, political leadership has become an oxymoron. Widespread disappointment in both political parties and Congress as a whole has left an entire generation looking for new answers. We are leading a new era of young radicalism with action and not politics.

There exists a large group of libertarian millennials who are hungry for liberty and fervent on getting the government out of their lives. There also remains a large contingent of millennials who support government intervention in different sectors but do not acknowledge the ability for government to function efficiently.

The widest of millennial nets can be placed on those who curse the state and its pesky politics, who refuse to be placed in an ideological box by political consultants, and who are about to change the world. Millennials have a very strong message for Washington, DC: you’re out of touch, unable to solve problems, and we are about to take over.

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