Was 2008′s record youth voting turnout a product of more youth involvement in politics, or of more politics involved in youth? I don’t remember George W. Bush inspiring a music video during his campaign, and I’m not sure John McCain knew what an app was when this was launched for Barack Obama’s campaign.
While 2008 was a time that preached change, 2010 is a time that preaches revolution in the most extreme ways, and I don’t think Millennials are buying into it. You don’t see those same celebrities from “Yes We Can” making guest appearances on Sarah Palin’s new TV show. Quiz any college student on what the Tea Party is about, and you’ll have to cut them off halfway through their story about Boston Harbor in 1773. Ask them if they know what The Rally to Restore Sanity was, and I’m sure you’ll get an enthusiastic response.
In a world where college students see Wikipedia as a perfectly credible source for research papers, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are noteworthy models for effective political communicators. It’s not like they are preaching an overthrow of Obama and the Democrats just yet (or likely, ever), as their rally was defined as “…a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) – not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority.” Millennials fit that description and even if many
weren’t able to physically attend, the positive association with its tone and messaging should not be taken lightly.
Despite Democratic support, there is frustration about the economy, I feel a sense of pessimism with people who are searching for jobs, and some even putting off work for grad school in hopes of better prospects two or three years from now. Despite this, I don’t think the blame falls completely onto the shoulders of Obama and the Democrats in the eyes of my peers. Big business bail-outs, BP’s miserable PR coverup and probably some influence from the movie “Wall Street” (the original was better) has given college students an unsure feeling about the security of their future. Couple that with a growing reality that the United States’ status as the world’s only super economy is being threatened by rapidly advancing countries such as India and China, and there is just not a lot of optimism to be felt. I think one thing that people overlook is that Millennials can hardly remember gas prices being below two dollars a gallon, its been a decade of economic struggle for a lot of people.
Regardless, the economy is slowly improving, and graduating in 2011 doesn’t seem nearly as bleak as graduating in ’10 or ’09 did, but will the turn-around come fast enough and engagement pick up enough by 2012 to get youth back into the voting booth?
Jon Stewart “Rally to Restore Sanity” www.rallytorestoresanity.com/
Originally featured at http://www.ypulse.com/story-behind-the-stats-how-politicians-can-rally-to-restore-millennial-faith