There has been a lot of irresponsible journalism lately making sweeping generalizations about the so-called Millennial Generation. Beyond being annoying and contradictory to be called achievement-obsessed and lazy at the same time, there seems to be little interest in my generation to engage in the very institutions that our elders currently control. Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post summarizes:
Distressingly, millennials’ rising mistrustfulness of U.S. institutions and political leadership is discouraging us from trying to make the system better. The Harvard poll also finds that, over the past four years, young people have become more likely to agree that “elected ofﬁcials don’t seem to have the same priorities I have” and “political involvement rarely has any tangible results.” Perhaps as a result, the share of respondents who say they’ll “definitely be voting” in the 2014 midterm elections slipped to 23 percent, down from 34 percent when the question was asked last fall.
Disengagement from democracy and its institutions is never the best way to respond to personal insults and economic injuries. Part of the reason politicians ignore the challenges millennials face is that so many of us can’t be bothered to vote as it is; further withdrawal seems unlikely to orient the system toward our interests and priorities.
This is the challenge of our generation to make a long-term investment in the institutions that we will inherit one day, while receiving seemingly little attention from the elected officials who them. With the current economic climate that has been left to millennials, it makes it harder to make long-term investments in buying homes and marriages let alone politicians or political parties.
The tough thing about it is that the only way to get attention from politicians is to vote. I hope that we can rise about these challenges and insist our voices be heard. State registration deadlines across the country are coming up to vote in the Nov. 4th Election.
Matt Impink is a former US History Teacher and Education Policy Advocate. He is currently a Graduate Student at IU’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) in Indianapolis and curates the Civic Blog. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @mrimpink.