At this time last year, the media was belittling the idea of Donald Trump running for president. Oh, how we all wish we could go back to those simpler times.
Following his Super Tuesday wins last week, in which he won over his Republican rivals in seven of the 11 nominating contests, Trump seems almost unstoppable now. Many within the Republican Party are in panic mode, with prominent leaders split between backing Trump if he's the nominee, or vowing #NeverTrump on their Twitter feeds.
But, there may be a way to counter the momentum behind Trump's rise. Trump doesn't fare too well with Millennial voters. Empowering young people to begin discussions and to stand up against him may be the Republican Party's — and America's — best bet at staving off a presidential victory for Trump.
There is statistical evidence to back this up. Trump lost Texas on Super Tuesday, garnering only 27 percent of the vote there and coming in second to Ted Cruz. But he did even worse with Millennial voters, receiving only 21 percent of their votes, falling third place behind both Cruz and Marco Rubio.
In Virginia — a state that Trump won by 5 percent over Rubio — he lost the Millennial vote to Rubio by 4 percent. In Iowa, where he lost the caucus overall by 3 percent to Cruz, Trump lost in the Millennial segmentto Cruz by 8 percent.
Every strategy to defeat Trump will matter, but if he becomes the GOP's nominee, defeating him in the general election will require a plan that includes younger voters. Here are four ways it can be done:
1. Register to vote.
Many states in the US require you to register to vote before actually voting. Most require going to the DMV or a municipal building and registering, or printing a registration form out and mailing it in. But, each state is different.
Several states are making registration easier, allowing for online registration. Instead of having to go to your city municipal building or needing to mail a form in, you can register from the comfort of your home.
You may need an identification card to register, and rules vary from state to state. There are also registration deadlines to keep in mind. If you try to register after those deadlines, you will not be allowed to vote in the upcoming election.
With all of these questions, where can you find the answers? A good place to start is the voting information page on usa.gov. It provides links to various state websites, and it also answers many of the questions on deadline dates and eligibility standards.
2. Do your homework.
You've already determined that you're not voting for Trump. Maybe it's his brashness or the way he belittles minorities and immigrants. Whether you have a reason or not, if you're going to help save America from seeing him become president, you better have a solid argument.
This requires some work on your part. Becoming knowledgeable on any subject takes dedication. Fortunately, the media has been obsessing over Trump's rise since late last fall.
There's a wealth of news sites that explain why Trump would make a terrible candidate, and a simple Google search of “Why not Trump?” will bring up a plethora of them.
Humor is also a powerful weapon, and many comedians have taken a swipe at Trump over the past few months, while also providing informative segments. John Oliver's recent piece on Trump is one of the best segments there is that explains who he is and why he's a dangerous choice for America.
3. Have conversations with family and friends.
If you're like me, you probably know a few family members or friends who don't align with you politically. That's fine. At Thanksgiving, avoiding political discussion might be the best way to make it through the day.
But Trump is another story. If you're capable of talking with someone you know about him, it's best to do so, especially if that person is considering Trump as a viable candidate.
The best way to start the conversation? Ask the individual what he or she wants in a candidate. Attacking someone right away doesn't create a solid foundation for conversation. Instead of asking, “How could you support someone so condescending as Trump?” Instead ask, “What types of qualities are you looking for in a candidate for president?"
Once you create a conversation about what that someone wants, show that person that he or she is rooting for the wrong person. Very few people will openly admit that they want a hypocritical, xenophobic and anti-women candidate to win the presidency. Demonstrate that while their preferences may be different from yours, they're way different from what Donald Trump is offering them.
If you do get into an impassioned debate, remember these three principles: pathos, ethos and logos. These are ancient Greek methods for having good debates, and each argument you enter into should contain varying degrees of each.
Pathos refers to an appeal to someone's emotions. Trump is great at persuading people to support him because he appeals to their anger.
Use pathos-aligned arguments to counter that and to appeal to our audience's sensibilities. Anger isn't the only emotion to consider. Keep in mind that empathy can be just as powerful a tool.
Ethos is an ethical appeal, to strengthen your credibility as someone knowledgeable on the argument. You can win this appeal by stating you've been doing research on the candidate, and you'd like to share this information with your friend or family member.
Don't tell someone that he or she is less educated on the subject. Simply inform that person that you've read a lot about Trump, and you felt that he or she should know this stuff, too.
Logos is the appeal to reason. This one is easy if you're talking about Trump. Ask how a candidate can reasonably say he's going to build a wall across the entire Mexican border, and what's even more crazy is claiming he's going to make Mexico pay for it. That's not logical, and there are many more examples of logical inconsistencies that Trump dumps on his supporters daily.
4. Vote and get others to vote, too.
Voting is the most direct way to stand up to Trump. You may be thinking your vote doesn't matter, and statistically speaking, one vote doesn't always make the difference in most elections.
But, thousands of them together do. Millennials have a bad reputation for being low-turnout voters. However, this year, we're set to become the largest portion of the American population.
When you hear Baby Boomers whine about how we don't vote, remind them that they also were once considered the civically lazy generation. In 2008, only 51 percent of Millennials came to the polls. But that number is similar to what Boomers did in the 1976 election, fresh off the Watergate scandal no less, when only 50 percent of them voted.
Statistics show the Baby Boomers went on to become more involved in the following election years. This year, Millennials know they can't complain anymore if they don't vote. So, they plan on voting. About 60 percent plan to hit the polls this November.
That's still a low number, but if it holds true, it represents a 9 percent growth in the number of Millennial voters compared to 2008. Just for comparison, it took Baby Boomers until 1988 to reach above 60 percent in voter turnout.
Encourage them to vote with you if you live in the same location. But if you can't vote together, celebrate voting later on by hosting a post-voting party with all of your friends. Make the cost of admission $5, or free if you have an “I Voted” sticker. The point is, you have to vote, and you have to get your friends to vote, too.
Donald Trump and his supporters know young people aren't their core demographic of supporters. They're also counting on an apathetic turnout from Millennials to help them win.
Don't give them that opportunity. Millennials know we have it in our power to become a formidable force in society, and that includes in the voting booth. We don't want our country to be represented by a xenophobic, racist, woman-hating man who has filed for bankruptcy four times.
We know we can do better than that. So educate, talk and vote.