The latest generation to hit the political scene is starting to shake things up. They seem to be frustrated with the current political process and are looking to change things. The question is, what direction do they wish to head?
For starters, a Pew Research Poll found that 50% of millennials identify as politically independent. The old left-versus-right division of issues doesn’t seem to fit with them. They identify mostly as moderates, and don’t necessarily side with issues according to a political party’s platform. The information age has certainly had an impact on their views as well. The internet has made political information more accessible. Not having to rely on television or newspapers has allowed unprecedented access to stories that the two parties would have preferred to remain unknown. Millennials want more transparency in their government, and they seem to feel like the current system is too secretive and deceptive.
Millennials surveyed said education was a high priority to them. It is no surprise that rising tuition and student loan debt is crushing their faith in government solutions. The federal student loan guarantees have done well to increase demand for a college education. Supply has lagged a bit, which has caused prices to skyrocket. This means that college students are graduating with ever-increasing debt loads. It also means that often the job market is flooded with certain degrees that don’t translate to jobs that can even afford to pay these loans. Who can blame them for being frustrated?
This generation is the most racially and ethnically diverse one yet. Over 40% nationwide are non-white or Hispanic. This has led to a very different opinion of immigrants with this group. Almost three-quarters of millennials surveyed (Pew) said that they felt immigrants strengthened our nation. As the president talks about building walls and deportations, he is certainly distancing himself from this block of young voters. Millennials are far more in favor of immigration reform than previous generations.
When asked by Pew whether it was necessary to give up civil liberties to fight terrorism, over 70% of millennials responded “no.” This diverged with the older generations who were all around half. It would almost seem counter-intuitive that a group who were mostly children when the worst attack on American soil occurred would respond this way. Perhaps they feel they have had enough of losing rights and agree with Ben Franklin’s opinion that, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Many older folks write off the millennials as being silly kids who will grow up and change their political minds when they do. So far, that does not seem to be the case. Since millennials are expected to outnumber baby boomers by sometime next year, their votes will soon be critical to politicians. The fact that their generation will be saddled with trillions of dollars of national debt doesn’t bode well for the two parties that created all that debt. Certainly some of this group will continue to vote for more of the same. Some may even try to push Socialism as we’ve already seen happening. But more and more, this age group is seeking a new party that better reflects their own views. This is why I feel the Libertarian Party is right where it needs to be.