“A new report from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University finds that, in 2014, youth voter turnout fell to its lowest level on record. Just 19.9 percent of 18- to 29-year-old citizens” are registered voters. Regardless of whether you’re for the GOP or a left-leaning liberal, it is age that seems to be the biggest indicator of whether or not you might deign to share your thoughts at all.
This strikes me as peculiar… I think of millennials – Gen Y’s – as being more opinionated, more willing than any other generation to post everything from relationship statuses and work achievements to what they had for dinner and what music they might be streaming. Pinterest, snapchat, twitter and facebook are filled with circulated memes, selfies and quips from folks willing to opine on daily minutia which includes political issues. Gen Y reports deep divisions in ideology about healthcare, gun control, and overseas wars, ending friendships and sparking trends that surface and disappear before traditional news sources can print the stories.
And yet, the 2016 election is predicted to be so underrepresented by the millennials that politicians are reportedly spending minimal funds on targeted ads to this demographic.
Some pundits offer that this age group sees little difference between republicans and democrats, others offer that it is a certainty that the vote won’t count , that nothing will change, that it doesn’t matter, they won’t be affected. Scholars rail that nothing can change unless they start to care, while administrators sooth, offering explanations for why they’re sort of right.
I’d argue that voting is not viewed by Gen Y as a privilege, or even a responsibility. It is a task relegated to adults, which many millennials report not identifying with. It is perhaps because it is something we had to fight for in prior generations that make it optional now, however egregious we might perceive that to be. A mentality of – that’s not my issue, not my problem – seeps into many conversations with Gen Y’s, even when they are pressed to rethink.
Later this year, we as a country will choose a leader of the free world. This person should represent all people, even if we have to find new ways to represent their voices.