We’re Not That Bad

Millennials get a bad rap. We’re lazy, we’re arrogant, and we have no respect for authority. We’re too obsessed with our Facebook pages and not focused enough on growing up. We take things for granted, and we don’t give back to our country and those who made everything possible for us.

So when it comes to this election cycle, we could be doing more for Hillary Clinton, right? In 2008, Millennials turned out for Barack Obama in unprecedented numbers. He built a youth movement like never before, and capitalized on the incredible energy of the largest growing generation.

Obama’s simple message of hope and change fired up young people, turning their enthusiasm into action come Election Day. This spring, similarly to 2008, Millennials flocked to the lesser-known candidate: Bernie Sanders quickly captured the excitement of young people and challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

It was no surprise, then, that Millennials did not fall in line for Hillary immediately after the primary. They viewed her as too moderate and boring, a significant departure from the energy of the Obama campaigns. She was too much of an “insider,” having spent her entire career in public service.

To her credit, the Clinton campaign worked fervently to build on the Obama and Sanders youth movements. They reached out to college students across the country to build a formidable campus operation. They hired Sanders campaign staffers to expand on his progress. They have deployed extremely popular and high profile surrogates — including President Obama and the First Lady — to drive up youth excitement and, in turn, Democratic turnout.

These efforts have certainly paid off: Millennials overwhelmingly support Clinton, and would deliver her an easy victory if they were the only voters. Yet Clinton knows that a victory on November 8th is not the only thing at stake. As the newly minted largest generation of Americans, Millennials will hold serious clout in the coming years.

The headlines have been dominated by Trump versus Clinton storylines, with more and more journalists writing pieces about the downfall of American democracy and the end of the Republican Party as we know it. They seem to forget that elections are held every four years, that there are two more branches of government, and that not all change happens on the House and Senate floors.

We are the most educated generation in American history. Millennials are seeking more jobs in the tech industry, accounting for improvements to infrastructure and rapid growth and expansion in urban centers.

Our desire to climb the corporate ladder and seek out our own development has earned us the scorn of the Baby Boomers. Rather than applauding our ambition, they resent our obsession with getting ahead. The corporate world was not kind to climbers in their time, they say; you need to put in your time, and your rewards will come.

Well, that same attitude stifled the rise of women in the workplace. That same attitude continues to hold successful women back. That’s why we Millennials are excited about Hillary Clinton and her rise against these traditional attitudes. Turnout among Millennials will be high in no small part because of these archaic notions.

We represent the most diverse generation in America. We will soon dominate the workforce, as more and more Millennials will occupy C-Suites, hold elected office, and found startups. Our economic future as a country depends heavily on our ability to grow and seek higher levels of success, and to aspire to this success at a young age.

When people tell you that this election is more than just Trump versus Clinton, they’re not wrong. Yes, whoever wins on November 8th will shape our future as a country. But they will only be able to do so much.

Change does not come from the top. One man or woman cannot create overwhelming change. They need collective power — the college student in Indiana, the small business owner in California, the single mom in South Carolina — to really change the direction of our nation.

That power grew with Barack Obama’s grassroots approach to political organizing. It became mainstream when Bernie Sanders fought so passionately in the Democratic primaries. It will become the norm when Hillary Clinton is swept into office with the overwhelming support of the Millennial generation.

Millennials are already reaching new heights; we are driving innovation, changing the country, and seeking out better opportunities for us and our peers. When Hillary Clinton finally shatters that final glass ceiling on Election Night, then, we will be right there with her as a symbol of what is still to come.

Like her, we will not rest on our personal successes. We will not be content with fewer opportunities in the workforce. We will not stand by as the fortunate few are able to dominate the course of our country.

Instead, we will stand with her in her fight to improve the lives of all Americans. We will rise with her as traditional workplace attitudes begin to change. We will work with her to promote innovation, create growth, and reward personal ambition.

This election is not just about electing the first woman president. It is about our shared values and common goals: that all people deserve a chance to succeed and that our country is strongest when opportunities are plenty.

Millennials are just one piece of this puzzle. But make no mistake: we are hardworking, we are ambitious, and we love this country just as much as the Baby Boomers. We will continue to seek success. We will continue to fight for our beliefs. And we will continue to do all the good we can, for all the people we can, for as long as we can.