Millennials Don’t Vote, And For Good Reason
So I want to talk about this article in Mother Jones, and how awful it is. Basically, it blames millennials for the Democrats losing so many elections. If only young people voted en masse, the article says, we could have won! It doesn’t matter how bad the candidates were, or how poorly they campaigned, or what their positions were, we could win as long as everyone (but especially millennials) blindly voted Democrat.
Well duh. “We would win if we had more votes” is obviously true. It’s such a vacuous statement that I’m surprised anyone insists on making it, but apparently Mother Jones is willing to stoop to that level. Of course if the groups that tend to skew Democrat vote in greater numbers, Democrats will do better in the elections. I seriously hope this surprises nobody.
But instead of simply pointing fingers and blaming millennials who didn’t vote on the Democrats’ loss, Mother Jones could have stopped and asked why we didn’t vote. It’s a much more interesting question. Why didn’t millennials show up at the polls? Why do millennials seem not to care about politics? It’s not like voting patterns happen in a vacuum. There are reasons for why this year saw the lowest millennial voting rate in a decade. Instead of whining about it, Mother Jones could have tried to figure it out.
Personally, I think it’s because millennials feel that no one in politics cares about us. If their elected members of Congress aren’t listening to our concerns, and issues we care about are being ignored, why should we bother voting? If neither candidate is willing to take up issues important to young voters, is it really that important to try and choose between them?
There are plenty of issues that millennials care about that politicians don’t seem interested in addressing. Student loan debt is one. A living minimum wage is another. Many millennials care about climate change, because in a few decades, we’ll be living through the consequences if we fail to address it. But few politicians are willing to do anything to fix it. Lots of millennials are falling victim to the increasing militarization of the police, or are joining our actual military only to be sent off to die in a foreign country for cheap oil. But it seems like too many politicians are gung ho about wars on drugs and wars in the Middle East, and have no concern for the lives they’re destroying.
Is it really any wonder why so few millennials are turning up to vote, when it will have such a small impact on our lives? Why should we vote for another politician who won’t do anything to improve the job market? Why should we take time off of work or school to choose between someone who will screw up the economy, and someone else who will screw up the economy? Why should we bother casting a ballot for a candidate when they won’t bother to listen to our concerns? The Fusion article linked to by Mother Jones says, “[Millennials] generally vote in much lower numbers than their older… counterparts” but, again, misses the forest for the trees. Millennials don’t vote because they feel that their vote doesn’t matter, because regardless of who wins the election, millennials lose.
So now, let me turn the question around. If the millennial vote is so important, why don’t politicians do more to court it? Why don’t politicians address issues that matter to us? If they want our vote so badly, they should do more to earn it. Instead of treating us as a magical Democratic voting fairy, candidates should listen to our opinions and take our concerns into account. We have issues that we care about, we have causes that we think are important, and we would probably be far more inclined to vote if our elected officials paid attention to them.
Politicians, instead of blaming us for your loss, start making sure our concerns are represented in Congress. Then more of us would care about elections. Stop trying to blame millennials for your defeat. If we don’t vote for you, that’s your fault, not ours. Work to fix it.