Millennials and the Modern Political Experience
In the political climate of the day, one of the most daunting yet important tasks seems to be attracting Millennials. Since the 2012 election and the remarkable popularity of Ron Paul amongst Millennials, this discussion has gained a good deal of traction and the major party campaigns have done their best to bring this demographic into their prospective folds, with somewhat mixed results.
The Trump campaign recently added to the landscape when Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out an image of himself, his sister Ivanka, and brother Erik with the caption “This is not a Republican vs. Democrat election. This is about an insider vs. an outsider.”
The attempt at mainstream appeal with young people was, by and large a dismal failure. Twitter came through instantly, ever the drunk friend voicing it’s own opinion and mocked the tweet, likening the image to a poster for a 90’s era teen horror film. The likeness isn’t unreasonable.
Hillary, on the other hand, has fared better than Trump. A Gallup poll issued on September 26th showed huge disparity in the numbers, with Millennials favoring Clinton on almost every issue. But in spite of that, 44% of Millennials are still leaning third-party. Neither candidate has done well here, with what some might consider to be the most important demographic.
They need to take a cue from Ron and Bernie.
A New Understanding
In 2012, Ron Paul took the political world by storm when his campaign garnered a never before seen level of support from Millennials. When he stumped at UC Berkeley, one of the most liberal Universities in the nation, he pulled in 8000+ attendees. At UCLA, he drew a crowd of 8500+. He brought in 4200 to Michigan State, 6200 to Chico State, and the list continues. That’s what gave him appeal, he was different. Here was a mainstream candidate challenging the mainstream. A candidate bringing something new to the table in stark contrast with the other establishment candidates.
Recently, we’ve seen more of the same with Bernie Sanders. In a piece titled Bernie Sanders is Profoundly Changing How Millennials Think About Politics, Max Ehrenfreund makes the case that Bernie Sanders’ broad appeal with young people was due to the stark contrast between him and other politicians of our day. Millennials are fed up with our American political system, one that plays politics rather than uniting for principle. I for one would have liked to see Bernie win the Democratic Nomination this year. In spite of his incredibly illogical economic policies, he was a genuine guy asking some really important questions. And, he had some really great ideas to boot. The DNC just wasn't ready for them. That or they rigged the election against him. But who’s to say other than the thousands of leaked emails?
In the process of promoting my documentary Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda, I’ve talked with many about the modern Millennial political experience, and what I’ve found is that not only are more and more politicians attempting to draw in young people, but more and more young people are getting involved independent of their attempts. Over the years, Millennials have been the catalyst behind environmental discussions, the abortion debate, Occupy Wall Street, just to name a few. The Boomer generation is slowly but surely dying, and Census Bureau statistics show that by the year 2020, Millennials will make up 37% of the age-eligible electorate. As it stands now, we already make up 25% of that electorate. And our politics are changing and being changed. We’re seeing a sharp split between socialism and libertarianism. I fall in the latter camp. But what that says to me more than anything is that Millennials are concerned about the state of our nation, and they’re rallying to do something about it.
So, here we are. 35 days until Election Day. As it stands right now, we’re faced with a felon and Satan. Not the greatest of choices. I’d rather vote for a plant. But watching the desperation with which Clinton and Trump have attempted to draw in the Millennial vote, the desperation with which they’ve attempted to recreate the mass appeal of Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders to their advantage along with the immense level of involvement so many Millennials have taken on themselves, has given me hope. Millennials are not only a broad demographic, but we’re starting to break the chains that mold us into one thought process, one ideology. Candidates like Ted Cruz, far more establishment minded, yet still outside the status quo are gaining much support among Millennials, proving the point that young people really are concerned for the state of our nation. But more than that, they want to be involved in changing it. The Ron Pauls of the world have yet to win. A truly principled candidate whose message is pure, unadulterated freedom has yet to take hold an appeal broadly enough to be the nominee. There are still a lot of hills to climb. But young people are becoming more and more inspired to change our nation for good. And the desperation? The need to appeal to young people? It proves one very important fact about Millennials.
We matter. Let’s do something with that.
Based in Northern California, Jesse Winton is a screenwriter and director whose documentary, “Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda", debuted in theaters nationwide in September of 2016. Targeted will be returning for an encore showing nationwide on October 12th. You can learn more about Jesse Winton at jessewinton.com.
Follow this author on Twitter @jrandallw