For those of us who follow “millennial issues,” this generation’s low turnout hardly came as a surprise. Last April, the Harvard Institute of Politics found something surprising while talking with young voters: considerably more young Republicans expected to vote than Democrats. Armed with this troubling data, Democratic candidates had months to adapt their messaging and court our votes. What happened? Universally, Democratic candidates didn’t bother to address the (very real, very serious) problems that are on the minds of many millennials: the racist and costly drug war, ballooning student loan debt, long-term unemployment, flat wages at shitty retail and restaurant jobs, and an imperiled climate. Democratic strategists seemed to assume that running as the Not-Republican Party would carry them to victory among young voters. Perhaps they were just too comfortable, believing that, since millennials would never vote for Republicans, those votes were secure. The election firmly behind us, we all know how well that turned out.
If Democratic strategists thought they could simply ignore the needs of millennial voters because we find Republican politicians to be noxious, hopefully this election taught them a lesson they won’t soon forget. People who need jobs, a pay raise, or just some debt relief are unlikely to put partisan loyalty over more immediate needs. Personally, I’d vote for Rand Paul for president faster than you can say “libertarian wacko” if I thought he would actually end the drug war, slash corporate welfare and plow the savings into student loan debt relief or a robust infrastructure bill. If someone like myself — a pajama-festooned, latte-sipping, liberal hipster who writes for Salon, fer chrissake – is willing to ignore party preference in favor of actual legislative gains, I can only assume that less ideologically committed millennials are even more willing to vote Republican for the right candidate or platform.
Democrats are far too committed to being a centrist, business-friendly party that eschews economic populism at every turn. Hating your opponent might be a motivating impulse for some voters, but there’s already a party that believes in nothing beyond the destruction of its ideological enemies. Where’s the party for the rest of us, a generation who’ve come of age under the heavy thumb of neoliberal maximalism? Where’s the party that promises to fight back with unapologetically progressive politics? My suspicion is that the growing segment of disengaged millennials are looking for left-leaning candidates willing to shed the yolk of Clinton-era conformity and compromise — and they’re not finding it. (Help us, Elizabeth Warren, you’re our only hope!) Indeed, a simple examination of the exit polling seems to confirm this interpretation. Democrats lost millennials this cycle (as they did in 2012 compared with ’08), but it’s not like the Republican Party made any comparable gains among young voters that would suggest we’re moving rightward. Young people may be abandoning the Democrats, but it’s not because they’re rushing to endorse the public policy platform of Reince Priebus. (Thankfully.)
You know what this says to me?
This says "I shouldn't have to vote for a party that isn't 100% on the issues I want, so I'll sit at home instead. And I don't really give a damn if the Republicans win as a result."
And it's painfully clear that is exactly where Millennials and young Gen X voters like myself under 40 are. Why should our generation have to eat the crap samdwich, when our grandfathers only had to survive the Civil Rights era and our fathers had to make it through Reaganomics?
The people that actually vote want to put out generation in indentured servitude in more ways than one, but why should we care, right?
Jesus wept. If you consider voting for Rand Paul, you're not a goddamn progressive, you're an asshole.
New Tag: Millennial Stupidity.