Millennials—the demographic cohort that follows Generation X, preceded by the Baby Boomer generation before them—now represent the biggest generation in US history. Much has been written about us millennials, and how we’re unlike any other generation that has preceded us. And now, as our generation starts to age, we are also on the front lines of political and cultural change in America.
We’re speaking out. We’re seeing issues we care about being ineffectively addressed far too often. The problem? Traditional and antiquated modes of thinking within politics are failing us. The two-party system consistently fails to answer the needs of the people. It’s become clear now that the next generation of American citizens is the one that will need to create a better system in the hopes of increasing the range of possible solutions, for everyone.
In a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center on social and demographic changes, seven major aspects of millennial politics were examined, what they found was pretty telling:
- Millennials are more likely to be political Independents than any other generation.
Despite voting for President Obama by double-digits in 2008 and 2012, 50% of Millennials are frequently self-described as Independents.
- Millennials are open to government solutions.
Millennials prefer to support a bigger government providing more services over a smaller government providing fewer services by 53% to 38%.
- Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation.
Approximately 40% of Millennials are non-white or Hispanic.
- Millennials are the most moderate of any generation.
A plurality of Millennials (39%) are moderates, with another 31% describing their political views as liberal, and 26% as conservative.
- Millennial views on abortion are almost identical to their elders.
56% of all Americans feel abortion should be legal in all or most cases—54% of Millennials agree.
- Millennials are not isolationists.
Millennials were more supportive (by over 20 points) than the Silent Generation of the military conducting nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. And 60% said the US made the right decision in choosing to use force in Afghanistan—14 points higher than Silents.
- Millennials believe immigrants strengthen our country.
Nearly seven out of every ten Millennials believe that newcomers strengthen American society, with a meager 27% saying newcomers threaten our customs and values. In contrast, 44% of Baby Boomers and 40% of the Silent generation say immigrants strengthen our country, while 46% of Baby Boomers and 45% of the Silent generation say newcomers are a threat.
When Will Enough be Enough?
The data speaks for itself: old views and approaches are changing quickly and significantly, and common sense would suggest political parameters should change too.
From my perspective—as a millennial in the current political sphere—the two party system is destroying America, with the American people caught in the crossfire. The bitter fight between Democrats and Republicans has ground the government to a halt and partisans on both sides are so angry they can barely speak to one another, much less work together. It seems as though each party’s most extreme member often believes the other party is treacherous and purposefully harming the nation. Over the years that America has become more partisan, our congress has become less effective. Each side has become increasingly extremist and now base their political agendas on the vilification of the other, clearly engaging in political manipulation—which includes things like gerrymandering, bending the rules of Congress to get their way, and stymying their opponents whenever possible.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The more destructive problem is the way this reroutes the discussion of the issues actually facing the nation. The majority, if not all, media—including sources from the New York Times to Fox News—seem largely incapable of dealing with any issue outside of the ‘liberal versus conservative’ paradigm.
No matter what the issue or topic, the media frames everything as simply either a Democratic or Republican position. This catalyzes an absurd idea that every political issue has two, and only two approaches. Pure nonsense. The “national” debate engages every issue with simplistic duality, trivializing everything they’re actually talking about. This duality dumbs down political debate and makes it nearly impossible to effectively deal with the problem at hand.
Instead of keeping to the current state of affairs, it’s time that a new approach to engaging problems takes the lead. Focusing on addressing issues of the utmost importance, rather than simply winning a seat at the table.
Read more from Kevin Durh and SAM here.