According to recent studies, around 45 percent of millennials are now politically unaffiliated or independent.
With birthdays spanning between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, millennials have long been criticized for their divergence from their predecessors when it comes to values like work ethic, political activity, and sense of civic engagement. Criticism is rooted in the behavioral tendencies of America’s younger generation of voters – the future generation – to demand immediacy in all aspects of their lives.
When it comes to information, the Internet has provided this generation with a vast amount of information readily available with the click of a button. When it comes to career paths, the advancement of technology has opened up a world of opportunity and a creative space that was unheard of in previous generations. And when it comes to politics, millennials want results – and they want them now.
However, when it comes to public service, millennials have grown up with an appreciation for community service, one that expands beyond the hours required by high school administrators and college admission offices.
They are committed to public service and motivated by social change.
Growing up in the age of Internet and iPhones, millennials have a unique understanding of the changing digital needs of society — something lacking in the majority of current lawmakers today.
In a time when dissatisfaction among the two political parties is high, it would seemingly follow that young professionals would be eager to transform Washington’s outdated ideology and replace it with one that acknowledges the ever-changing landscape of diversity, morality, and technology that governs life in America today.
The partisan nature of politics today, however, has created an environment so unwelcoming that even the civically aware millennials are keeping a distance.
Instead of applying their much-needed digital skills to the fight for a more representative government, these 20-something year olds are serving elsewhere. They are turning to the private sector or nonprofit work to fulfill their quest for social change.
John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard’s IOP, explains why:
“Millennials, born between 1982-2003, have never been exposed to the type of politics that warrants idolization. Their initial exposure to politics was not rich with political compromise and problem solving, rather it was during the age of government distrust we still find our political system struggling with,” Della Volpe explains in a recent Atlantic article.
“They came of age in a period of polarization and gridlock…The president they supported could not overcome it,” he continues, speaking of President Obama.
While partisanship dates back to our Founding Fathers, what differentiates today’s partisanship to that plaguing Jefferson’s era is our immediate access to it. Social media, cable television, online forums, blogs etc… have created an environment overflowing with different viewpoints and political ideologies.
And while the diversity of opinions is something to be celebrated, the exponential increase in competing ideas and spread of partisan attacks in the mainstream media has led the majority of bright-eyed millennials to agree that “politics has become too partisan.” Glued to their phones and Twitter feeds, this is what they have now come to associated politics with.
With nearly one-third of our future generation of leaders agreeing that “political involvement rarely has any tangible results,” what does this mean for the future of Washington?
Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.
I've taught millennials, and while a sample of a few hundred does not perfectly represent a whole generation, I can plainly state that they lack any real first hand knowledge. I don't blame them for their ignorance. After all, they equate the propagandization they've received their entire lives to "education"--just as their parents and grandparents did. As I said previously, they have grown up without the benefits of religiosity. Looking back over the last three or four generations, this has actually been a social trend. That's not entirely a bad thing as there's as much negative in it as there is positive. The disconnect, of course, is that those positive aspects of morality which religiosity imparted to previous generations has not been replaced with rational ethics. Previous generations behaved morally out of fear of God's retribution, the last few generations have not had this religious morality replaced by anything other than fear of retribution by the State. If you wish to actually explore the discipline of rational, secular ethics, here's a source for you to view at your leisure. Have a good day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXYa3uWOwTQ
reeally I think their ethics are more reality grounded without a belief in a diety, ethics, define ethics because most of the current PC speak of ethics is screw yourself to benefit the system
They're also grossly misinformed, bereft of intellectual or ethical depth, and generally lacking in social skills as a result. They grew up without religiosity, but also lack ethics which makes them nihilistic and self absorbed.
I think it will take a crash to shake awake Washington. They don't care whether they represent the interests of Anyone as long as they can defend their privilege and fight for ideological supremacy. We really need to move past the partisan bias of both sides.
Well, people have been hoping a democratic republic would create greatness for a couple hundred years, and I think it peaked and is now on the fritz until we have a new cultural shift.
This is a good thing. As information becomes more free and accessible, and as people realize that there's a lot more progress to be made in having a local relationship with their neighbors, the concept of central government will fizzle away because of its outdated modes of functioning. Bureaucracy is an invention of the eighteenth century, and it's now really starting to show its age. With information and communication so freely available, it's becoming unnecessary to have people represent or advocate for us, when we can make our own informed, intelligent decisions with our own lives. The representation and bureaucracy only slow down the process of progress now, and after those vested in the state are finished kicking and screaming for their own livelihoods predicated on a dying system, what will rise from the ashes will be an explosion of new growth, invention, creativity and enlightenment.
Personally, I do not consider anyone born past the mid-90s as part of Generation Y (or Millenials as we have come to be called), but the span of birth years varies depending on the commentary and it can go as far as the early 2000s as Volpe extends it to. The reason I think this distinction is important is because Generation Y, as it was pointed out, has seen how the importance of technology has shifted stating before the Internet took off and before cell phones were even commonly owned. So, it really gives our generation a perspective that no other generation has, but that is also why I don't include people born past the mid-90s.
the charges posed against the younger political class are always the same. there's anecdotal evidence everywhere for calling any group narcissistic or entitled.
I kinda touched on this with one of my other articles, where 28 percent of likely voters in California between 18-34 are politically independent, larger than Dem or Rep. We definitely grew up in a different political climate.
@Shawn M Griffiths yeah...I actually remember when playing Go-Fish was something kids did. You're right that we have a perspective on technological change other generations don't have, but if that same rate of development continues, there's no knowing what technological revolutions will define the generation born in 2013 that will make them inherently wiser than the rest...all kind of relative. We've seen an explosion of digital connection instead of the explosion of physical transportation connection that was predicted back in the 50's...maybe babies born today will be traveling SF-NYC in 30 minutes by underground hyperloop, or drinking wine in the backseat of a car driving itself. And they'll say "Wow, we have a really unique perspective. I remember my mom checking her iphone for traffic! I've never gotten trapped in traffic in my life!"
@CharlotteDean @Shawn M Griffiths I am speaking more of generations living today, though. We talk about a generation gap, but Generation Y -- at least the older side of Generation Y -- is in a unique position to bridge that gap because I remember life without the internet. I remember life before cell phones, but I also grew up in the technological boom.