3 Ways Millennials Are Changing the Political Status Quo
This election year, millennials (ages 18-34) have surpassed the baby boomers (ages 51-69) as the largest living generation block in the United States of America— and that’s a huge deal.
Why? Because now we have the potential to be the most potent force in our society.
Distinctly characterized by being relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, in no rush to marry and optimistic about the future— we are America’s most unorthodox generation.
Here are 3 things that define millennials when it comes to politics:
We believe in social good
As the "startup generation", we’ve revolutionized social activism online and brought meaningful causes to the realm of business. Looking to the business sector for innovative societal solutions may lead us away from investing collectively as citizens through government, but this may not be the case. It’s too soon to say definitively, but millennials are already thinking of careers that will span different sectors— potentially holding jobs in business, government, and civil society.
We value effective solutions over party politics
The impact of a generation that is less loyal to a party and more focused on outcomes is not without implications. Faithful partisanship throughout the country guarantees a certain level of political predictability— foresight that may be undermined as millennials avoid party identity. Despite the potential repercussions, we are introducing a bold new “whatever works” mentality to decision making, rendering the Kool-Aid served by both parties ineffective. Not surprisingly, half of millennials already describe themselves as political independents.
We have faith in the Establishment (well, most of us)
According to a 2012 survey of young likely non-voters, 43 percent said it did not matter who was elected because, “Washington was broken.” Indeed, the perception that the government is in shambles is a view shared by all generations, but 53 percent of millennials are supportive of an activist government —more than any other generation— and believe government can be a force for good. In the end, our optimism for the future continues to set us apart.
Why should millennials in America feel privileged about being the new majority?
In countries that suffer from aging societies like South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, baby boomers outnumber millennials— and the disparity between old and young is forecast to increase because less and less people in those countries are getting married and having kids. Millennials in aging populations are fighting for jobs in labor markets saturated by workers older than them, increasingly burdened by costs associated with caring for a growing elderly population, and when it comes to politics and societal issues, they have little leverage over the conservative aging majority.
Fortunately, the U.S. doesn’t suffer from an aging society and American millennials have the unique privilege of influencing the world’s greatest nation in business, government, civil society, and perhaps most importantly— on election day.