Midterm elections are tomorrow. According to polls, only about one-in-four Millennials is definitely planning on voting. This isn't surprising, as polls have also revealed that this generation has historically low levels of trust in government.
Who can blame young people for feeling this way? Millennials grew up through the peaceful prosperity of the 90s. By the time most of Generation-Y graduated from high school, however, its country was in the midst of two wars and was facing the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.
Simply put, Millennials are broke, out of a job and owe money to the government. Thus, why would America's young people want to engage with the very people who fostered the struggles they now face?
In September, Elite Daily went to Washington DC to speak with members of Congress about all of these issues. We wanted to address the apparent apathy surrounding politics among America's young people. In order to get a balanced picture, we spoke with politicians both young and old, Republican and Democrat.
We went to Washington, feeling just as disillusioned as the rest of this generation. When we left, we felt a renewed sense of faith in government and the political process. Republicans and Democratic politicians alike left us with one primary message: Even if you are fed up with politics, you can't change anything unless you are engaged.
Generation-Y Is Fed Up, But It Must Not Give Up
Millennials are fed up with the polarized nature of American politics at present. This generation doesn't have time for petty ideological disputes while it's struggling to find a job, housing and health coverage.
It's no secret that this legislature has been obstinate and unproductive. In fact, the 113th Congress is arguably the least productive legislature in modern history.
Not to mention, it's apparent that many young people are dissatisfied with the job President Obama is doing. In his defense, he's faced an exceptionally obstinate legislature. Yet, it's also true that he hasn't quite lived up to many of the promises he made during his initial campaign for the presidency in 2008.
In spite of all this, Millennials cannot afford to give up. This is the largest and most diverse generation in American history. It's up to this dynamic group of young people to take the reins of this country and steer it in the right direction.
Simply put, even if young people are fed up with government and politics, they have to be proactive if they want anything to change.
You Can't Change The Game If You're Sitting On The Sidelines
In Washington, Elite Daily interviewed seven members of Congress in total. We spoke with them about everything from student loans to Snapchat.
We wanted to get a sense of what they believe are the biggest issues of concern for Millennials and how they are working to engage with this generation to make positive changes. Every single one of them highlighted concerns over high levels of unemployment among young people, as well as the apparent skills gap.
It's evident that many Millennials aren't studying subjects in college that translate well into the workforce. At the same time, we need to pressure politicians to drive down the costs of education. This is precisely why voting is so important. Millennials need to ensure that the people representing them are championing their interests.
One of the most reassuring aspects of Elite Daily's entire experience in DC was how many Millennials are already on Capitol Hill. Indeed, the majority of Congressional staffers we met were about 25-30 years old. These are the people behind the scenes who keep the political machine going. While Generation-Y is often characterized as lazy, entitled, misinformed and disengaged, these young people stand as a testament to how false that perception is.
Correspondingly, all of the politicians we spoke to remain positive about the impact this generation can have on America. In their view, it will be Millennials that change the polarized nature of the current political system.
As such a large and diverse generation, it's more tolerant of differing viewpoints, and generally more empathetic and forward-thinking. Yet, Generation-Y's impact on this country will only truly be felt when it begins to assume the roles of leadership. The first step in this process is engaging with today's leaders, in order to become tomorrows.
Elite Daily asked each and every politician we spoke to why Millennials should vote. One answer has continued to stick out and really places things in perspective, "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu." Simply put, if you don't vote, you're letting others vote for you. In the process, your interests and values are swept to the side.
It's understandable that Generation-Y is dissatisfied with the political process. Yet, discontentment without engagement is a decidedly oxymoronic stance on any issue. You have no right to complain about anything if you aren't actively attempting to change it.
A Generation Molded By Struggle
The United States claims to be a beacon of democracy for the globe, yet it consistently has one of the lowest rates of voter turnout across the world. Since 1945, on average, only about 48 percent of the country has turned out to vote.
In a democratic society, voting is a citizen's most fundamental right. Americans love to complain about their rights when they feel violated, but essentially half of the nation habitually fails to exercise its most vital right.
Millennials must break this trend. This generation must set a higher standard for America.
Generation-Y has been molded by struggle. It has lived through 9/11, the War on Terror and the Great Recession. In spite of that, it's still standing. Millennials are indefatigably optimistic and natural innovators. This generation has already fostered one of the most revolutionary means of communication in history -- social media. Indeed, Generation-Y's positive impact on the world is already apparent.
Think about the country Millennials could build if the entire generation were engaged in politics. What would the United States look like if 100 percent of the eligible Millennial voters came out on election day? Undoubtedly, this would foster a more open, diverse, diplomatic and innovative America.
This generation has a boundless capacity to change this country for the better, all it has to do is step up and accept the challenge. Voting tomorrow would be a fantastic start.
Check out the video below for a more in depth look at Elite Daily's time in Washington DC:
Photo Courtesy: Jens Schott Knudsen