By: USC TAPP Staff
The real Silent Majority this election wasn’t the first-time, blue-collar workers in the Mid-West –it was us Millennials –not because we voted, but rather because we didn’t.
This year, Millennials officially overtook Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation and for the first election Millennials aged 18-35 matched the baby boomers’ share of the electorate. And instead of taking the opportunity to register our opinions, we registered our silence. Although Millennial voting data in this election has yet to be fully compiled, already we know that in many battleground states the millennial share of the electorate from 2016 to 2012 decreased. In Arizona for example, the millennial share shrank from 26% to 15%. In 2012, only 46 percent of eligible Millennials voted compared to 69 percent of Baby Boomers. Despite not knowing these same numbers in 2016 yet, we do know that only 37% of 18 to 29 year olds cast their ballot for Donald Trump compared to 53% of Americans 65 and over, setting the youngest and biggest generation up with a Brexit-like consequence.
While pundits often wonder why the working class “votes against its interest” when it throws its support behind Republicans, the question now becomes why we Millennials fail to vote for their interests. In an election when some of our biggest priorities such as climate change and tolerance were at stake, instead of Pokémon Go-ing to the polls like the working class did for Nixon in 1969 and for Trump in 2016, too many Millennials elected to stayed home.
But now, more than ever, we cannot remain silent.
While we hypothesize about what Trump will tweet next, Congress is taking concrete action to overhaul our nation’s laws, putting environmental standards, consumer protection, accessible healthcare, and above all, we the people, at risk.
We are not powerless. With just the dial of few buttons, we can call our representatives and tell them to prioritize student debt over rolling back climate regulations. With the stroke of a pen, we can write to the president-elect to remind him in order to champion the cause of workers’ rights. With the click of a few keys we can share petitions to protest calls to repeal Obamacare. With the signing of a few checks, we can support civil and human rights organizations that fight for every citizen. With a few hours of our time, we can volunteer in our own way to make this country a little more equal and just. With a few forms in hand, we can register people in our communities to vote. And in a few more years, we can and will show up to the polls in greater numbers and make sure that the Millennial voice is heard.
We need to invest ourselves in politics so that politicians will invest in us.
Activism isn’t easy. In a country of more than 300 million people collapsing under the weight of countless problems, it’s easy to lose hope. It’s easy to become disillusioned and disengaged. But in the words of President John F. Kennedy, “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Even though the time has passed for us to register our votes this election, it is still not too late to register our opinions, our fears, and our hopes. It’s up to us now.