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Millennials: The most politically apathetic generation

A Colorado State University student heads to a voting booth on the first day of in-person voting. Credit V. Richard Haro/Fort Collins Coloradoan, via Associated Press

A Colorado State University student heads to a voting booth on the first day of in-person voting. Credit V. Richard Haro/Fort Collins Coloradoan, via Associated Press

It is no secret that millennials are today’s most politically apathetic generation.

Although they generally have strong opinions on political issues, less than half of eligible voters ages 18- to 29-years-old have voted in national elections since 2008.

Not only do they fail to vote — an alarmingly low number of millennials are seeking to pursue a career in politics.

Many politicians and political analysts of older generations attribute this apathy to pure laziness, but statistics show that millennials do seek to be proactive citizens; however, for many reasons, they have given up on the political system.

A 2013 study by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that, “nearly three in five young Americans agree that elected officials seem motivated by ‘selfish reasons.’” More than half of millennials believe, “elected officials don’t have the same priorities,” as them, and that, “politics has become too partisan.”

Another reason for political apathy was highlighted by former Middlebury College student Tevan Goldberg, who expressed his extreme doubt that any millennial, “genuinely believe[s] that…a Congress comprised almost entirely of rich old white men,” could understand their interests.

“Politicians don’t care what we think,” added working millennial Ryan Rawlings. “They do whatever makes them look good.”

Millennials also notice that candidates often fail to be authentic in their attempts to gain the support of younger generations.

Hillary Clinton has worked to gain the support of young voters, as evidenced in her closing remarks of, “may the force be with you,” at the most recent Democratic primary debate, and the blog posted to her campaign site entitled, “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” — but these attempts have largely failed.

Many believe that Clinton’s and other candidates’ efforts are simply missing the point, or sometimes even trying too hard. They criticize politicians for not simply, “starting a conversation,” with young voters.

Despite a lack of faith in government, millennials still try to positively impact their communities, however, many would rather become activists for a particular issue than for an entire party.

Contributors to the left-leaning Generation Progress noted the, “entrepreneurial spirit among this generation,” saying, “Young people [have not] given up on the political system in its entirety;” they are merely focused on more individualized issues than party agendas.

Ron Fournier at The Atlantic wrote that millennials think they can make more of a difference volunteering than they could in a government position, believing that, “political involvement rarely has any tangible results.”

“It’s not that we don’t care,” Rawlings added. “The governments we’ve seen haven’t been overly successful. We want to make a real change.”


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