The Millennial Problem: Why Modern Politicians Cannot Connect with the next Gen of Voters

I was born in 1984. Technically, according to someone I've never met, that makes me a Millennial. Children born in the mid-80's (some place it at 1983, some earlier), who have come to age after 2000, are widely grouped into often discussed demographic.

The term "millennial" became radically popular over the last few years. You cannot watch a network sitcom these days without someone over 50 using it as a derogatory term. Apparently a secretary listening to headphones instead of helping out a customer should indict an entire generation.

It's clear that a segment of our society has marked my generation as the greatest problem since polio (something we never really had to worry about). We are vapid, tech-obsessed, and worst of all, unwilling to move out of our parent's basements.

But it's true there are some clear disconnects between people my age and younger and older generations. While I maintain they are no different than the typical generation gaps, it has created a disconnect between voters under the age of forty and those over it.

It seems that traditional politicians don't "get us." Try as they might, candidates like long-time insider Hillary Clinton are having significant trouble inspiring young voters to support them.

Just watch this wonderful video to see how Millennial women feel about Hillary:

Let's forget for a minute it has anything to do with her record of corruption, unlikeabilty, and general dishonesty (because if Millennials can do anything, it's see through bullshit). Let's consider why older generations of politicians can't seem to crack the Millennial nut.

For as long as we've been alive, politics worked a certain way. There were stereotypes that politicians, the media, and the American public clung to. Democrats, for example, were for the working classes. They were the party of the people, of progress. Republicans on the other hand, believed in the free market, lowering taxes so businesses could hire more employees. This was often seen as support for the rich.

Clear lines that put you on one of two sides. But it just doesn't work that way anymore. You could argue that it was never that cut and dry.

After living under this misconception for decades, my generation came to voting age in the early 2000's (at least the oldest of us). Many Millennials (before that was a buzz word), voted enthusiastically for Barack Obama, largely believing in the misconceptions I just laid out.

But after eight years of disaster, many Millennials are beginning to learn something our parents apparently never did: when it comes to the government, there is no black and white.

Political parties don't really represent the issues they claim to care about. They often kowtow to special interests, putting complex political interests ahead of American citizens. We saw this when Obama came to office.  All his 2008 rhetoric of lowering college tuition, providing affordable healthcare, and helping restoring the flagging economy never came to fruition.

Even his attempts at reforming healthcare were a disaster.

Those among us who supported Obama felt like the wool was pulled over their eyes. Only now are they beginning to realize that the old, outdated political system isn't working. Couple that with the new batch of Millennials coming to voting age, people entering college or about to graduate high school. They are faced with a bleak future: massive tuitions and a meager job market.

Where is the change we all believed in?

Obama's America was the same America of the last thirty-plus years: an American that played the same political games. But my generation doesn't play those kinds of games (we like actual games, the ones you play on your computer). We find politics as usual as foreign a concept as the Cold War (which most of us never lived through).

Thanks to the open culture of the Internet and the free expression it provides, we are more tuned-in than any other generation. We are not beholden to what our local newspaper tells us, or even a popular TV network. We learn about the world around us from actual people in that world. People my age (and younger) are more likely to learn about current events from image-sharing social network Imgur, than the New York Times (considering both options, I'd pick Imgur hands down).

This has made us enemy number one to the cultural gatekeepers of previous generations. They label us as cynical, uncaring, and thus irrelevant, because we don't march in step with their values. Just look at the kind of TV created by old guard producer Chuck Lorre. This 63 year old man is responsible for such shows as The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom that goes out of its way to insult comic book-loving Millennials. It's a clear indication of how older generations of people look down on and despise Millennials for their different values and ways of thinking.

All because they don't understand us.

They don't understand why we value individuality above all else. They don't understand why we look at their carefully crafted, post-counter culture America, and ridicule it for its hypocrisy. And they don't understand why we would take a badly drawn picture of a green frog and use it as vehicle for social commentary.


Millennials aren't interested in playing politics. They won't vote along party lines, simply because their parents did. If they feel strongly about a particular issue, they will support the candidate that reflects their values, regardless of their affiliation.

This is why so many young voters rallied behind Bernie Sanders. They backed a doddering, white-haired, crazy Socialist, because he wasn't willing (for a time) to kowtow to party politics. He was promising radical change in the government, presenting his years as an outsider as a sort of indie cred.

And of course he was promising free college tuition. Now that's how you win over Millennials.

The hit job the DNC did against Bernie cemented their death. Millions of young and new voters saw how the old party system betrayed a man they believed in. How can you expect them to simply forget? This is real life after all; Millennials won't scrub their memories and back another horse, simply because she's in the same "party."

It doesn't work that way with us.

This also explains the popularity of Donald Trump. Cynical, dyed-in-the-wool liberals will say it's because he's a reality TV celebrity. That Millennials support Trump because they remember him from his time on The Apprentice. But believe me, Millennials weren't watching that show. As kids, we didn't care about old people fighting for a stuffy job. We were watching cool TV shows like Buffy.

Trump's appeal is much like Bernie's, only less crazy and Socialist. With his bold statements, even the radical, wall-building ones, he promises to upset a stagnant and outdated system. Donald Trump can completely overturn decades of D.C. politics. This is something that the media and left are terrified about.

But that is exactly what Millennials want.

We don't hold the same things sacred that Baby-Boomers and Gen Xer's do. We care more about people, our families and friends. We want the same opportunities are parents had; yet the American dream of bygone years just isn't attainable anymore. If upsetting a political system, or systems, can make real change, we're all for it.

Slaughter the sacred cows. Overturn the apple carts. As long as it gets things done, Millennials will be behind it.

The last thing you should do is represent everything wrong with the system: the lying, the corruption, and the insider politics.

Guess who represents that better than anyone else? Hint: she wears pant suits.

So as the established old guard continues to belly ache over the younger generation (and when have they not?), we will soldier on, using our memes, irreverent humor, and YouTube channels to upset the status quo. Anyone who tries to keep things the way they are will simply slip into obscurity.

But in the end, that is always the way of things.

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