Millennial Turnout At The Midterms Was Miserable, And We Need To Do Better
Miserable over the Tuesday midterms? You can thank your generation for that. Exit poll results from Fox News and CNN show that millennials barely participated in the 2014 election. According to the results, only seven percent of all voters were 18-24; six percent were 25-29; 13 percent were 30-39; 19 percent were 40-49, 33 percent were 50-64; and 22 percent were 65 or older. So that means despite all of our PSAs and pithy social media trends, millennials made up only 13 percent of the voting population nationwide. It also means that the majority of voters were over 50 years old.
In his post-midterms speech, Obama referenced the gap: "To everyone who voted, I hear you. To the two-thirds who didn’t vote yesterday, I hear you too."
Buckle your seat belts you guys, because this is going to be a long, terrible ride.
I don't have to tell you why millennials should vote. In fact, they had at least 89 reasons to do so. But I'll go ahead and hammer it in anyway. This new(ish) trend of believing your vote doesn't matter is a self-fulfilling prophesy. When you decide not to vote, you ensure that your interests and opinions do not matter. By silencing yourself, and potentially influencing others to do the same, you ensure that the 50 and over, white, wealthy, male, dedicated voting crowd gets yet another chance to choose who makes the decisions that directly affect you.
So that means that when it comes to affordable healthcare, access to birth control, reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, immigration, gun control, racial discrimination, income equality, student loans, you name it, our generation has decided that we'd rather let the rich, old, and wealthy — who made many of these things problems in the first place — deal with those problems instead of doing something about the problems ourselves.
I'll repeat that. Our generation over the years, by twiddling our thumbs and not fulfilling our civic duty —our obligation as members of a democracy — continues to allow a generation completely out of touch with our needs and values to make our decisions for us. Does that bother you? Because it should. It's so bad, that even the celebrities who participated in last year's Rock The Vote campaign, which was specifically targeted at millennials, didn't vote in the following election.
It should make us mad, like really mad. It should have made us mad enough that we made sure to get off our asses this time and vote — especially when something like CONTROL OF FRIGGIN' CONGRESS is at stake.
But apparently, we're not mad enough. Because we screwed it up, again, and didn't show up, again. Even those of us who encourage others to vote, who post emphatic tweets and Facebook statuses about the importance of voting, who share articles about how important voting is, don't vote.
Needless to say, President Barack Obama's last two years in office are going to be a long, hard struggle with an oppositional Congress. Our generation needs to do some serious standing in the corner, so we can think about what we've done here, and how best to learn from it. I'm looking at you, millennials. Let's not repeat this same mistake again.
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