Coming Into Our Own
Updated: Jul 15, 2019
There's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that in the 2016 Presidential Election, Millennials and Gen X'ers combined cast the majority of total votes, exemplifying a shift from the long-held voter majority of Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation as they slowly age out of political dominance. This shift represents a change of power, giving younger people more agency to determine the fate of their country. The bad news is that just 49 percent of Millennials (ages 18-31) actually took to the polls, compared with a whopping 69 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 45-64) who exercised their right to vote. This rendered the voice of the youngest voting generation just a quiet echo compared to what it could and should have been in the whole scheme of the election. In today's hostile political climate, voter suppression is consistently used as a means of campaign advancement. In other words, young people are often only encouraged to vote if they express potential to vote in line with a certain party or candidate. This is unjust and, frankly, un-American. In a country of inequities, privileges, and opportunistic disparities, the polling station is arguably the only setting in which each individual's opinion holds the exact same weight as every other individual, regardless of age, race, gender, wealth, religion, education, sexual orientation, or any other variable. The most immediate way to combat the injustice of voter suppression is... to register to vote! This extends beyond the Millennials who are already of voting age - Approximately 4 million Americans turn 18 each year, effectively becoming potential voters. As Generation Z slowly enters the political sphere, they not only have the right, but the responsibility, to vote in their own best interest, and to ensure that the priorities and values of young people in this country are taken seriously and reflected by the government. Millennials and Gen Z'ers are under no obligation to blindly accept a nation handed to them by previous generations, but rather must become involved now to shape the nation into what they want and envision for their future. Disagreements and healthy debate should be accepted and cultivated as part of the political process, not a reason to forfeit voting rights or to discourage someone else from exercising theirs. Several people cited their dissatisfaction for both candidates as their reason for voting abstinence in 2016, but this is no excuse. In fact, studies show that roughly half of all Millennials identify as Independent rather than Democrat or Republican. These independent and write-in votes are just as important as the partisan ones, and give young people a chance to change the status quo of the way we view political partisanship in the first place. Truly, the only "wrong" way to vote is to not vote at all.
By Megan Sadorus
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