Contributed by Devynn Maclure
I did a dumb thing. An inexplicably stupid decision that so lacks in wisdom and sense, it makes going bar-hopping the night before a final exam seem like a decent call in comparison. I procrastinated. Sure, I do that a lot, but more specifically, this is where I went wrong: I put off writing this month’s article in hopes of digging up an incredible, awe-inspiring millennial perspective to expound upon.
Now it is the morning after Election Day, and instead of unearthing some great gem of twenty-something wisdom, my brain can dig up nothing but weeds and cobbles of exhaustion, frustration and fart sounds. With a deadline looming and the inability to think of anything other than where America goes from here, I’ve got no choice but to carefully and cautiously dish it out. Here is what went down within the millennial generation during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election:
Often regarded as a generation with little-to-no sense of civic responsibility, millennials have earned a hard rep for being too self-indulged to care about the state of our government. However, based on what we see and hear from young people on college campuses, military bases, youth shelters and social media alike, it can be said that a majority of millennials are involved in some form of political activism, and the 2016 presidential election was no exception. Millennial voters have fought, rallied and stood firm in their beliefs for this election season, creating a passionate endeavor by every walk of political life like none many have ever seen before.
At the beginning of the election, most millennials made it clear that they wanted to see Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders become our next president. It was Bernie’s meaningful and sincere concern for the younger generation and working class that drew most in because let’s face it, student debt rates are outrageous, we can barely afford to eat and come on, a little birdie landed on the guy’s podium like he was some kind of wiry-haired Disney princess. Other candidates didn’t seem to match up to Bernie in the eyes of millennials, lighting a political fire in the hearts of many who came to “feel the Bern”. To see so many young voters come together to make their voices heard amongst the masses is now what resonates with many as the true definition of democracy, as it became a turning point for many non-involved millennial’s political involvement.
As the election moved forward, the Democratic and Republican nominees narrowed down in ways that caught affiliates of either party off guard. Bernie’s lost DNC nomination and advocation for Hillary Clinton forced millennials to choose between voting for Clinton, the woman most had been furiously rallying against, and voting the senator as a write-in candidate anyway.
Meanwhile, young Republicans watched as potential candidates withdrew from the race until Donald Trump fell into their laps. Those who disliked any of these options advocated for third-party candidates. We had become completely divided, both as a generation and as a country. Some felt disgusted and cheated by our government, opting out of casting their vote. However, not all were deterred, and a large number of millennials took to the polls, regardless of major setbacks throughout the election. The race was not what we asked for, but it was what we were given and we were going to work with it.
As ballots were counted, it became clear that Clinton was the favored candidate amongst voters, ages 18 to 35. Despite this favorability, the Electoral College and older generations came to the polls at full force, leading to a Trump victory.
Opinions aside, the pride felt for those who got out and voted in the most bizarre presidential election to date is overwhelming. It took a lot to take a stand this go-round, and everyone put up an incredible fight for what they believed in. If you voted and didn’t see the outcome you wanted, keep your head up and continue fighting for what is near and dear to your heart. Stay involved, speak out and stand your ground. Our generation has plenty of ground to cover between now and future elections, and it will not do us well to lose steam this early on in the game.
To those who did not vote, perhaps you might see this election as a learning curve and realize the importance of a young turnout in our local and national elections. Our voice can make a difference, as it will someday be the governing voice of the country. We all get a ballot and we all get a choice; who we vote for makes us individuals, and having the right to choose simply makes us American.