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Millennials and the 2012 Election

This is gonna be a doozy. The mother of all elections. At least until 2016.

Yes, the election season is upon us. I just figured I would tell you on the slim chance that you A. hadn’t been bombarded with political ads, B. aggravatingly partisan coworkers, family, and friends, or C. live in Alaska (which is probably a combo of A and B). We have about a week to go before we all select a new President, or keep the old one, as the case may be.

Our generation, the Millennial generation, is often called ‘entitled,’ and with good reason. We grew up in very prosperous times. The Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II years were more or less good to us and our families. There were small recessions, of course, but nothing as compared to the Great 2008 Collapse. Now, we’ve gone from the Entitled Generation to the Unemployed Generation.

As a result, many of us have gone from being told that we’re special and excellent to having to move back in with our parents and work retail and food service jobs after college. Quite a blow to the ego, wouldn’t you say?

President’s comin’ for your vote!

In regards to the election, even though the financial disaster occurred during the last year of the Bush Administration, many people feel that President Obama has had more than enough time to make things better, and he has not done that. Millennials, too, are feeling dejected by the man we fell in love with four years ago. Then Senator Obama and his campaign mobilized the youth vote to nearly unprecedented levels four years ago. However, at some point between November 4th, 2008 and today, Hope and Change became We’re Doing the Best We Can Right Now So Don’t Ask Questions and Trust Us. Not exactly the soaring rhetoric we expected at this point.

Mitt Romney would appreciate your vote. Now.

But his challenger, Governor Romney, appeals to Millennials in only a roundabout way. He does not speak specifically to us, like Obama did in 2008. When he does, he references creating more jobs for all of America, referencing his not-insignificant résumé at doing so. He also makes reference to the notion that America should not create more debt and deficits for generations to pay off in the future.

That rhetoric affects many Millennials, particularly the older ones who’ve been dealing with a bad economy for some years now. Both men talk about getting America back to work by creating jobs, and helping us find jobs once they’ve been created. But it’s not just whether or not we can find a job in the next few weeks.

We are genuinely concerned about Social Security, and whether or not we’re paying into a system that we’ll never be able to take out of. We are genuinely concerned about the amount of debt our country has acquired, and the range of entitlement programs, and whether or not the bottom will fall out on us. We are genuinely concerned about health care, believe it or not, and whether or not Obamacare is actually going to help or hurt us in the long run. These are the long-term issues we are becoming increasingly aware of as we age.

As for voting patterns, Millennials have a tendency to be socially liberal, but are increasingly identifying ourselves as fiscally conservative. This almost certainly is a direct result of four years of a sub-par economy. This also means that social conservatism and economic liberalism are fading from the purview of Millennials as viable philosophies. Obama, while socially quite liberal, has been anything but fiscally conservative. Romney, on the other hand, appears to be quite fiscally conservative, but socially all over the map, depending on the time of day.

This has been the most negative campaign cycle I personally can remember. (As a Millennial, I haven’t been around for many; the first one I remember off-hand is Clinton/Dole in 1996, which was pretty docile with all things considered.) As a student of history, I know that this isn’t the most vitriolic ever; John Quincy Adams/Andrew Jackson in 1828 was particularly disruptive to the point where it was likely that it killed Jackson’s wife. Michelle Obama and Ann Romney seem to be doing just fine thus far, as families have (thankfully) been considered low blows in politicking for some time now.

But never before has there been so much money spent making someone else look less palatable than the other. And Millennials don’t get down with that as a rule. Millennials, and voters in general, don’t care for negative attacks and name calling. And we certainly don’t get down with candidates spending a billion dollars each attacking each other while we work minimum wage jobs paying off our student loans and car insurance. Unless you are a strict partisan, these sorts of indignities don’t work on you.

Pretty much standard.

In a recent TRU (TeenResearch) poll, more Millennials are moving away from traditional politics, finding themselves turned off by Democrats and Republicans and their handling of government and the economy, and each other. Instead, Millennials are increasingly more likely to drop out of the process and complain on Reddit or Facebook. I made that last sentence up myself; it has nothing to do with TRU. It could be because Millennials really have fallen out of love with Obama, for a variety of reasons that are mostly rational (the least of which being that he’s no longer ‘cool’). But truthfully, all the mudslinging in this election turns off all non-partisans and non-believers, not just the Millennial ones.

So who will win the Millennial vote this time around? After all is said and done, President Obama will. Even though I just stated that Millennials are becoming more and more fiscally conservative, the simple rationale that young people tend to be (and therefore, vote) more liberal in general, and grow more conservative as they age, is still just as true as ever. 66% of voters under the age of 30 voted for Obama in 2008. While that number figures to be somewhat less in 2012, it will certainly break Obama’s way again.

Having said that, this blog is not intended to tell you who to vote for. You need to decide that on your own, and hopefully you will take into consideration more than just blog entries in the backwoods of the internet. But all of the Millennial concerns I mentioned here are true. Neither candidate has been an inspiration during these tough times. But you do need to participate, and choose the one who will be more likely provide the foundation for economic stability in the long-run.

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