The nation has a fixation with generations. The “Greatest Generation” (Born between 1927 to 1945) are dying off, “Baby Boomers” (Born between 1946 and 1964) are retiring in greater numbers, Generation X (Born between 1965 and 1980) are becoming the main force in our nation. And now having more influencing in our culture is Generation Y, also known as Millennials (Born between 1981 and 2000). Generation Z, also known as the Boomlets (born after 2001) are coming of age. Much have been said of the Millennials, both positive and negative.
The myth of the millennials is that they are often described as lazy and entitled by older generations. In reality, they’re just misunderstood. Armed with a record number of college degrees, they are often involved in good causes and volunteerism with statistics that rival the “Greatest Generation”. Despite economic problems based on our economy and the debt they incurred, their civic and nonprofit participation is unprecedented.
Why Millennials are the New Greatest Generation:
It is reasonable to assume that due to their age and participation in worthy causes, this generation is to a great extent idealistic. As a baby boomer myself coming of voting age in 1979, I too was idealistic and dissatisfied with the status quo. The Millennials at this point in their lives are even more dissatisfied with the status quo (made up of people such as myself in their minds). It’s natural and to be expected.
As a result, they question the current system that only allows someone from the two major parties to have a chance of becoming president. It is reasonable to assume that many of them see this trade off of parties occupying the White House and Congress (as well as State Houses) back and forth for decades as being what’s wrong with the current system in general and their debt specifically.
Although polling shows that they tend (as to be expected with those who give of themselves to others) to be Progressive, they don’t trust the Democratic Party. They see no true difference between either the Democratic or Republican Parties because both have been running the nation since the 1860’s and positive change is often slowed or stalled completely. They feel that things must be changed and since they are now of age and have the power, they can change it.
A major portion of the support behind Bernie Sanders were Millennials. To some extent even Donald Trump (seen as an outsider) gets support from this generation. With Bernie no longer an option and the view that Hillary Clinton is an insider/career Democrat, there is distrust. So a significant number of Millennials look to third party options such as Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. This is where things get tricky and frankly dangerous to the nation as a whole based on what the Millennials feel they must do to change the status quo.
Respectfully, despite their good intentions, Millennials often don’t have experience of age/history nor the ability to grasp the concept of unintended consequences. This comes with age and Millennials are only now are experiencing life and the consequences of their actions. They focus on what they see as the fault of previous generations and believe naively that any change, as long as it is massive and quick is what’s needed to change the status quo. They think is Hillary is establishment, the establishment is what’s responsible for their problems, so we need outsiders taking charge. They don’t take the extra step to examine who these outsiders are and what they plan to do. Being an outsider is not necessarily a good thing. You must examine the whole picture before deciding.
It is interesting to note that Gary Johnson, a Libertarian former Republican Governor of New Mexico nationally has 9% support. Half of his support comes from former Bernie Sanders supporters, most of them Millennials. This is interesting because as Progressives, how can Millennials support a Libertarian? Well he’s third party and he supports legalization of marijuana and prostitution. Sounds fairly liberal but the Millennials don’t look deeper into the Libertarian platform. The platform also supports eliminating government funding (both federal and State) and placing it solely on the individual to fund education, healthcare, social security (pensions) and they want to repeal of the income tax and replace it with a consumption (sales) tax. Such a tax is regressive placing a higher financial burden on those who earn the least. Libertarians also oppose the minimum wage. Libertarians want government out of the way and the private sector controlling all aspects of our society (Police, Prisons, Food and Water Inspection, Fire Departments, etc.). It’s right here in their party platform and is supported by Gary Johnson.
Now there’s Green Party Candidate Jill Stein. She currently is polling nationally at 4% and much of her platform being precisely what the Millennials demand. But here’s the problem with Jill. First of all the Green Party has no path to what is needed to win the White House. She is not on the ballots in enough states carrying enough Electoral College votes to get her the presidency. Let alone the fact she has never held office beyond being the Lexington Town Meeting Representative. She’s been running for higher office since 2002. She has no business or leadership experience at all. Further, she’s close with Vladimir Putin. There is no chance a Stein candidacy is going anywhere.
The sad reality is there is currently no way a third party candidate can win in this election cycle because the system, (rigged or otherwise) will not permit anyone other than a Republican or Democrat to be President. You may not like it, (I don’t like it) but that is the system we have and it would literally take an act of Congress (amending the Constitution) to change it. You need a 50 -State organization getting out the vote to secure enough electoral college votes to win the presidency as spelled out in the Constitution. Only the Democratic and Republican Parties have that organization. Not the Green Party or Libertarian Party. The only thing a third party candidate can do is funnel votes away from either the Democratic Candidate or Republican Candidate. They cannot secure enough votes for themselves to win, but could influence who loses enough votes to give the office to the other candidate.
Many Millennials like the idea of a “Protest Vote” to show their disdain for the status quo. They don’t expect Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to win but they’ll vote for either one because it will show the major parties they need to change.
Here’s the problem with that. That was the thinking of Generation X in 2000 with a third party candidate named Ralph Nader, it was also the thinking with some Baby Boomers in 1992 with a candidate named Ross Perot. In 1992 Clinton did not have over 50% of the popular vote, but because enough Boomers took votes away from George HW Bush and gave them to Ross Perot, Clinton secured enough electoral College votes to win. In 2000, Generation X voters took enough votes away from Al Gore in swing states and gave them to Ralph Nader. So even though George W Bush actually lost the popular vote to Gore, he was able to win key swing states and secure the electoral college votes to win in 2000 with the help of the Supreme Court. This led to the worst “unintended consequence” in our country’s history.
We are only now recovering from the mess created by giving the presidency to George W Bush which was two illegal wars, decimation of the social safety net, cutting the taxes of the 1% and giving personhood to corporations, all things Millennials hate today.
In 2016, (like it or not) it’s going to be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump being elected President. The system will not allow any other choice this year. Millennials have some concerns about Clinton and this Blog post won’t even try to dissuade their concerns. All I can say is that as bad as she is (or perceived to be), Donald Trump is provably far worse.
Yes, I’m advocating to Millennials who hate both candidates to consider the lesser of two evils because that is all we have.
Trump will make lives for all Americans, especially Millennials worse for the time he is in office with conservative Supreme Court nominees, pushing more tax cuts for the rich, slashing any social safety net program to pay for his tax cuts for the rich and corporations.
Bernie Sanders said it himself, Hillary Clinton on her worst day is better than Donald Trump on his best. This is true especially for a voter trying the make America a better country. It won’t happen with Trump, he will in fact make it worse. Clinton will work to make it better, just not as fast as many Millennials want, but she will try.
Millennials will decide this election. If they stay home or vote third party or even vote Trump, Trump will win, and for at least the next four years, those issues near and dear to Millennials will be in the hand of provably the most corrupt and narcissistic candidate for president ever. If you are a millennial, do your research and do what’s best for you and your belief system and the nation and vote for Clinton because with Trump, you do have everything to lose. Below are the platforms of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. I suggest you read both.
And here is what experts say could happen to our nation under a Trump Presidency:
How do Millennials currently view Trump and Clinton?