I feel the need to fill in a major gap in this analysis. So much of politics is based around the economic realities that each generation was born into.
The Boomer generation was the recipient of a boom economy driven by a victorious war. They worked with people who knew them and fought with them, so questions of character and skill did not enter the equation when it came to getting a job. Getting a job was about going and getting one. Civil rights movements took off because governments and citizens were willing to listen to a generation that would fight wars.
As Generation X came onto the scene, foreign economies began taking off and offering real competition to US economic offerings. Many of our products were made in China, Japan began producing quality electronics and cars, and our clothing was made in overseas sweatshops. Gen Xers saw the tea-leaves and felt excluded from it all. They saw nothing but high prices coupled with low paying jobs. They adopted an f-it-all, survivalist, reactionary attitude. Note: if any generation had a reason to not vote, it would be these people.
As technology became cheaper and presented more real opportunities, the Millennials began taking advantage of it. We took it upon ourselves to make our own opportunities, for we knew that the Corporate world was not going to do that for us. As outsourcing accelerates, Millennials are seeing how jobs become codified and automated. They fight to resist this process, often by resisting their corporate bosses.
The current political argument is simply over what will unite us as a country. The GOP offers that it is a war that will unite and prosper us. However, given our current technology, a war that would involve our entire military, along with a draft, would cause casualties in the billions. I don’t know of a war that would be large enough to need a large military involvement yet not so large that it would destroy the nation. The GOP seems to think Iran might be the perfect fit. (Note that this plan could go up in literal smoke if the Russians get involved — hence Trump’s playing nice with them. McCain is right to not trust this plan.)
The Democrats offered more of the same diplomacy and a call to fight soft-power wars. By taking up global causes (such as global warming) and keeping our wars small and tidy, we retain our moral standing as a nation. This seems well and nice until you realize that more peace just results in more economic consolidation and monopoly. Anything taken away from a foreign dictator will simply go to a large American corporation, and if you’re anti corporate, that’s not a good thing. Also, if the face looks like Clinton, it seems like a face of a government that does not take you seriously.
It will be interesting to see what lens future Americans put on our history. If we can find a way to economically involve everyone we will live in a very peaceful world. However, if Americans make the unfortunate decision that winning a war is the only way to be taken seriously by their government, World War 3 could be back on the table.