Millennials Lacking Confidence in the Political Process and the Candidates

Why Millennials are not politically active during this year’s election

Photo by: Benjamin Dunn

By Rachel Ramos

Throughout the 2016 U.S. presidential election, candidates and political activist groups have been trying to appeal to more Millennials, using social media to reach more young adults, and celebrity endorsements to boost their popularity at political conventions. But, each party’s curious social media tactics, young adults aren’t necessarily expressing their support.

Nowadays, Millennials are more focused on what level they are on for Pokémon Go than how they’re going to vote on Proposition 50. They’re too busy with work, school and their social lives to join an activist group supporting the ban of abortion because their eyes are glued to their Smartphones trying to stay abreast of the latest celebrity feuds on Twitter.

So, are Millennials choosing not to vote because they don’t care? Because they think their voice doesn’t matter? Or are they not politically active because of all of these other technological distractions?

“I don’t think my voice matters because I don’t think enough of us are stepping up to the plate on political issues…We are just too focused on celebrity gossip and nonsense,” said Christine Dietz, a 24-year-old student at Cal State Fullerton. Dietz said the generation of 18-to-36-year-are more interested in the Pitt-Jolie divorce than they are in the results of the 2016 presidential election. And sure, this may sound stereotypical, but the lack of young adult participation in this year’s politics must have some sort of explanation.

Ruben Cotto, who was a young adult in the 1970s agreed. Cotto thinks that his generation had more knowledge and treated the elections differently than today’s Millennials. “The war was going on and there was a draft, so that made a difference. It was the first war you would see on TV and the first time you saw the presidential candidates on TV, so it was a big deal,” said Ramos. In the 1970s, Ramos said that many of his friends were tuned into what was happening during the election because they knew it impacted their lives.

Perhaps another reason why the parents of Millennials were so involved is because there weren’t as many distractions. In their day, politics were mostly about the issues. These days, it’s more about the entertainment value when you look at the campaigns run by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. When that’s the case, it’s hard to take politics seriously.

“I don’t plan on voting. I really don’t think my voice matters because people my age have distorted views because of the media,” said 18-year-old, Nicole Salazar. Nicole said most of her friends don’t like Trump simply because Twitter or the news tells them not to. They don’t have a clue on where he stands on the issues facing this country today or his proposed policies. “That’s why I think my voice is pointless. I’d rather leave it in the hands of the educated ones,” said Nicole.

Despite what some Millennial’s might think, this year’s election has a significant impact on their daily lives. According to an article from the Daily Progress, the Millennial generation is now the largest generational cohort in United States history. That is also why candidates and activist groups are trying to appeal to the Millennial generation by creating content geared towards their viewing preferences. CNBC stated in an article that the digital media network, Ozy Media, is “trying to become the news, arts and culture source” for the Millennials by appealing to an audience that has been dubbed the “change generation.” By partnering with organizations including The New York Times, NPR, PBS NewsHour, TED, and The Financial Times, Ozy hopes to expose Millennials and PBS viewers to more issues surrounding the upcoming election.

Media and pop culture may distract Millennials, but a combination of political Tweets, television shows, and informational websites just might move this generation into motion.