Election 2016: Why the Millennial Vote Counts

People lining up for the opportunity to vote. Credit: Getty images

When Obama first came into office, most seniors were either at the tail-end of elementary school, or just beginning middle school. Now, we’re all grown up, and ready to vote for our next president. Candidates are scrambling to appeal to the youths, hoping that they will cast a valuable vote in their favor.

As seen here, millennials lean towards the democratic party -Pew Research Center
Younger generations and minorities lean to the democratic party. -Pew Research Center

According to the Census Bureau, millennials now outnumber baby boomers by nearly 8 million. They are also more diverse, in turn creating a more liberal population that tends to address social issues and racial/socio-economic inequalities head on. These liberal tendencies prove to be more in favor of the Democratic party, which now overtakes the Republican party as the leading political party people affiliate themselves with, as stated by the Pew Research Center.

“Since we outnumber Baby Boomers we should see that we have a definite effect on the upcoming election this quarter, we should be able to educate ourselves [on the candidates] and place an educated vote on who we deem the best president for the United States,” junior debate student Brock Pugh said, “We, as citizens have the right to vote, but we also have the right to express our opinions when voting.”

Not only is the millennial generation larger in population, but they are also of more importance in terms of the state of our country. Despite that, millennials are in a transitional phase of their lives, becoming professionals and taking up the tools of the trade as the baby boomers retire out of their numerous fields. Millennials are becoming the leaders of our nation, and soon will overtake corporate and electoral positions that are often held by the baby boomer population in today’s society.

“I think it’s very important for the young people to participate in upcoming elections because in a few years, we’re going to be what’s expected to elect every four years,” junior political enthusiast Timothy Keyser said.  

Society’s state in the next generation will depend on the choices of the millennial population. The leaders they choose, the battles they fight, every move they make now will greatly affect what our country will look like in the next 50 or so years.

Only approximately 30% of the students polled have registered.
Only approximately 30% of the students polled have registered.

Therefore, as a high-school student, the very first step into the political world as an adult is registering to vote. In a personal poll, I found that many students hadn’t yet registered, some because of age, others because they just hadn’t had the chance to. As reflected in national polls, our students leaned to the left in terms of politics, while the majority still lie in those undecided or independent. Because such a small portion of the country votes, that makes your vote all the more valuable.

Many students plan on registering to vote, because they want their voice to be heard in this upcoming election. It’s not every year we decide on a new president, which makes registering as soon as you can, vitally important. Because of the expectedly high-turnout of people at presidential election polls, many people believe their vote won’t have as much weight. Which is untrue, for as long as you believe your vote doesn’t matter, there’s hundreds more who share your views that believe their vote doesn’t matter too. Which leads to the reality of our low polling numbers.

“There’s a very staggering statistic that only about 30 to 40 percent of the population actually votes,” Pugh said. 

Voting is important, but voting blindly can affect polls negatively if you don’t know who you are voting for. As an example, Donald Trump supporters have often been found to be attracted to his confident appeal and less so his policies. You may hear “I’m going to make America great again,” but you should first learn what ‘great’ consists of.

“I think it’s important for [students] to be educated on what they’re electing. There’s a lot of people who are younger and show up to those polls and might not know what the candidates represent,” Keyser said. “[Uneducated voters] electing somebody who’s going to run the country for four years, that’s something that can be very detrimental to how we operate as a nation.”

Democratic front-runners Sanders and Clinton share a moment. Credit: Gettyimages

Politics may not be the most interesting or exciting topic to you, but it isn’t all men yelling at each other, it greatly affects issues on all kinds of scale, nation-wide, state-wide, and even down to your local neighborhood. Educating yourself on the topics being debated and how they affect you is one way you can help yourself cast a better vote.

“[Politicans need to] get out there, so the teens and younger generation of the US [will] feel the power to vote,” Pugh said.

High-school seniors lie at the very edge of the millennial generation, meaning it will still be a while before they undertake professional positions and CEO jobs. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean your vote doesn’t matter. Thinking in terms of the bigger picture, taking the reigns on your future now rather than later gives you a bigger advantage. Your views as younger people may not be the same as older millennials, aged late 20s to mid 30s.

GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Carson face off. Credit: Investors

There are entire roundtable discussions of old men, pouring over pieces of media, attempting to break through the enigma of what young people find “cool”. We are not only wanted, but we are needed. We, as young people are the most desired demographic of advertisers and the like, with our ability to spread products and ideas through social media like wildfire.

“Due to the idea that this younger generation is very susceptible to types of advertisement, or advertisement that doesn’t revolve around politics, I think [political appeal is] more about being a little more flashy, being a little more out there, as we’ve seen Donald Trump and Ben Carson aren’t afraid to express their views,” Keyser said.

The candidates of this years election have proved to be diverse, reflecting modern America. There’s Hillary Clinton, one of the Democratic front-runners, a woman with experience in the White House, currently as Obama’s Secretary of State. There’s Ben Carson, the GOP front-runner, an experienced surgeon, who faced the hardships of poverty growing up. Bernie Sanders, another Democratic front-runner, whose Jewish faith makes him unique among the exclusively Christian presidents. These are the kinds of success stories that don’t seem so far off to the common citizen, considering where they started. This is in contrast to candidates like Donald Trump, who started with a million dollars in his pocket and a silver spoon in his mouth.

No matter where you come from, who you associate or identify with, voting, and making an effort to educate yourself about voting, is extremely important. Not only for your own sake, but for the sake of the nation. For every person who doesn’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t matter, there’s hundreds more who carry the exact same mindset who don’t vote. You have an equal say in the fate of our nation, and that’s something that should be taken advantage of.

 

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About mariamos2

Mari Amos provides the comics for the site, as well as a variety of different news/opinion pieces.

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