This past election took more than a few by surprise. Clinton was projected to win; the fact that she won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College only had a 10.5% chance of happening. And despite it being well past November 8th, we’ve yet to get used to the idea. Most Millennials did not support Trump, and some of them are even protesting the results. Millennials can’t claim all the credit or shoulder all the blame, depending on how you look at it. The rest of the country had their say too. But Millennials are only going to become a more significant percentage of the voting population as time goes on. Several people have tried to define the Millennial generation- lazy or resourceful? Self-centered or true humanists? Technology-addicted or technology-savvy? It’s clear that they’re forcing the workplace to change because of these stereotypes, but to what degree did they affect the election?
As of right now, Millennials match Baby Boomers in voters, but young people have a reputation of neglecting to show up to the polls. This trend held in this election as well, but their behavior in this election in particular is more unique than previous “young people”, and has the potential to affect future presidencies significantly.
Rejecting the Two Party System
Millennials do not have the patience of previous generations. They were disillusioned with the system to begin with. Rising student loans, inadequate compensation, and growing up during the recession has left them with a sour taste in their mouth. They weren’t satisfied with the status quo. Washington wasn’t representing their interests. Without a doubt, Millennials were overwhelmingly supporting Bernie Sanders, and when their preferred candidate didn’t win the primary, they became even more disillusioned.
Instead, they were faced with a choice between Clinton, who was seen as a proponent of the status quo, and Trump, who the right chose because of his outsider status. However, Millennials weren’t satisfied with the solutions Trump offered. His platform did not focus on any of their core issues. Unwilling to bite the bullet either way, lots of Millennials opted for third parties, enough that Clinton did not receive the supports she was counting on.
So where does this leave us in the future? Well, third parties have never had a viable chance at the presidency before, but if this discontent with traditional politicians continues, third parties will only gain more support. Upsetting our two party system might be impossible, but this would be the first step. At the very least, it demonstrates how dissatisfied many voters, especially Millennials, were. Rather than voting for either of the two main candidates, Millennials voted for someone that had no chance of winning. That emphasizes how drastically the system and 2020’s candidates need to change if they have any hope of obtaining the Millennial vote.
It’s no secret that Millennials are the most technologically competent generation to enter the voting booth. However, that knowledge comes at price. Millennials are also vulnerable to being manipulated by fake news articles, which might have influenced the election. Future campaigns could take advantage of too-trusting tech addicts. Millennials take much of what’s posted on social media at face value when this is actually a forum that necessitates careful scrutiny. A prime example of this was the fact that up until November 14th, Google’s first result when searching for election news incorrectly reported that Trump had won the popular vote. And while voters might take early election news with a grain of salt from now on, this distrust might not last among Millennials, who’ve become so technologically integrated that they’re dependent.
Despite this, a few tech giants took a minor hit after Trump was elected, including Facebook, Google’s Alphabet, and Apple. Considering the clashes between Trump and big tech during the campaign, this is no surprise. By no means was this an apocalyptic blow- they’ve all since started to rise again. Their products have been so interwoven with our culture that it could only be a temporary hit, no matter what anti-tech positions Trump spouts. And it’s Millennials that have ensured that our culture revolves around technology. Not only has their entertainment centered on it, their careers will too. For good or bad, young people have ensured the tech industry’s power in elections and proven that it is robust enough to take a hit.
A large part of elections will have to take place over social media, and that’s only going to become clearer as more Millennials reach 18. It’s not as if technology has been sneaking up on us; at this point, we’re all well aware of the ever-reaching impact that it has on all aspects of our culture, including politics. But with its heightened relevancy in this election, future campaigns will be forced to focus further on tech. It was tweets, SNL skits, and Facebook posts that informed Millennial voters in 2016, and it will only be worse in 2020.
Boomers are on their way out. While they still have a significant portion of our nation’s income, and therefore power, Millennials are becoming the face of America’s workforce. It’s our interests and trends that will be represented. Expect more Washington outsiders to come to power and technology firms to become more relevant in the political sphere. Millennials did not decide this election by themselves, but their influence is ever growing.
This article is written by Dayton Uttinger.