If Millennials Had Voted, We Wouldn't Have A Republican Congress

by John Haltiwanger

A lot of young Democrats probably woke up this morning feeling fairly disconcerted about the fact that we now have a Congress that's majority Republican. If these individuals voted, they are completely justified in feeling this way.

If they didn't, they have no right to complain, and if they want to look for someone to blame they only need to look in the mirror.

Republicans won an overwhelming victory in yesterday's midterm elections. They now control the House and the Senate, and won a number of gubernatorial races in traditionally Democratic states, such as Maryland. Simply put, the Democrats got massacred.

Why did Republicans destroy Democrats in this election? There's a very simple answer to this: most young liberals didn't vote and Democrats didn't vote where it mattered the most.

No Right To Complain: A Majority of Millennials Didn't Vote In The Midterms

Voters between the ages of 18 and 29 only accounted for about 13 percent of the electorate. Contrarily, older voters turned out in much greater numbers.

Despite claims that Millennials would favor the GOP in the midterms, the young voters who did turn out voted predominately Democratic.

Indeed, Millennials still overwhelmingly despise the GOP, and this is well documented. After all, as a consequence of Republican obstinance in the legislature, the country's progress has come to a standstill.

These conservatives have an excessively anachronistic view of the world, which is not conducive to the progressive perspectives of America's young people.

Why would Millennials want to vote for a group of people that is ideologically extreme, anti-gay, habitually denies climate change, champions greed and is completely uncomfortable with basic facts and science? Unless the GOP joins the modern era, it will never win over Millennials.

In truth, Millennials are sick of partisan politics altogether, but they are still voting in favor of Democrats.

Correspondingly, exit poll data for the midterms show that around 55 percent of Millennials voted for Democratic candidates. The problem is, however, that not enough young people turned out to vote in key states. Likewise, individuals aged 45 and older not only turned out in greater numbers, they also voted predominately Republican.

For example, voters between the ages of 45 and 64 made up 43 percent of the electorate. Over half of this demographic voted for Republican candidates. Correspondingly, 57 percent of voters over the age of 65 voted heavily Republican.

Simply put, the GOP won because more Republican voters came out to vote. You can't win a game if you don't even show up to play.

Midterms traditionally go this way. Older voters turn out in heavier numbers, and they typically vote for the GOP.

Yet, if Millennials had actually turned out in full force for these midterms, the results would have been decidedly different. Generation-Y is the largest and most diverse generation in American history. Presently, there are 86 million Millennials in the United States.

Correspondingly, the majority of this generation typically votes Democratic. The problem is, the majority of Millennials also don't vote, even though they already outnumber older generations.

Relatedly, as Rock the Vote puts it:

Millennials have the potential to be the largest voting bloc in our country but are voting at a fraction of their size, with an estimated 30 million young people staying home in 2012.

This generation constantly talks about the need for change in this country, but isn't making the effort to do anything about it. You can't complain about the government if you don't vote, plain and simple.

Yes, Midterms Do Matter

The next two years for the Obama administration are going to be exceptionally difficult. Even when Republicans only controlled the House, they made President Obama's job difficult. Accordingly, one can only imagine the resistance he will encounter now that they also control the Senate.

Congress will fight with the president over everything from climate change to immigration to healthcare. In the process, the nation will likely suffer, including Millennials.

Generation-Y faces astronomical levels of student loan debt and high rates of unemployment. Yet, in the past year, the GOP continuously voted against a bill that would allow students to refinance their loans. They did this because it would raise taxes on the wealthy. Simply put, these Republicans would rather help out the wealthy than America's young people.

You would think that after 6 years of obstructionism Millennials would realize that midterms actually matter... — Kevin Cooper (@kevincooper39) November 5, 2014

Thus, the fact that Millennials didn't come out to vote in the midterms is absolutely pathetic. When you don't vote, you're allowing others to vote for you. In the process, your values and interests are not represented.

If Generation-Y is wondering why life is so tough right now, perhaps it should consider the fact that it has allowed an elderly minority to dictate the future of this country.

Imagine What America Would Look Like If Every Millennial Actually Voted

Yet it's also important to note that while this election might have been a disaster for Democrats, it wasn't necessarily a total defeat for liberal values.

Similarly, as Ezra Klein highlights for Vox:

The night had few bright spots for Democrats. But there were some for liberals. The personhood ballot initiatives lost in Colorado and North Dakota. Marijuana was legalized in D.C. and Oregon (and we're still waiting on Alaska). The minimum wage was raised in Arkansas, Illinois and Nebraska. Washington state expanded background checks on guns.

Hence, if Republicans can win an election and liberal values still survive, imagine how progressive the country would be had they lost. This notion must haunt Millennials over the next two years, and urge them towards voting in the 2016 presidential election.

The United States is the most prominent democracy in the world, yet it has one of the lowest voter turnout rates across the globe. Out of 172 countries, the United States ranks 138th in terms of voter turnout. Millennials are a huge part of this problem.

There are people around the world who are literally willing to fight and die for the right to vote. Correspondingly, the United States would not exist had the colonists not felt outraged over their lack of political representation. It's the most vital aspect of a democracy.

Indeed, voting is our most fundamental right. When we fail to exercise this right, we contribute to the decimation of democratic values and the degradation of society. At the moment, a great deal of the wealth and power in America is in the hands of a minority. Unless more people vote, this trend will undoubtedly continue.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "A voteless people is a powerless people."

Generation-Y is enormous, liberal and diverse. It has so much potential to influence the direction of this country, but it's sitting on the sidelines. It's time to wake up.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Elite Daily