Political scientists often analyze the youth vote in order to spot possible future political trends. Having very recently aged out of this 18- to 29-year-old demographic (“millennial voters,” as they’re called), I believe I understand fairly well how many in the rising generation feel, and why they vote the way they do.
Of course, when speaking of millions of people in this way, one can only draw general conclusions that are riddled with exceptions. Still, trends do exist and point to underlying motives for why so many youth support a certain candidate or issue.
Four years ago, this voting segment overwhelming chose Obama over McCain in the general election, flocking to a candidate who railed against the secrecy, torture, tyranny, and moral bankruptcy of the Bush administration’s foreign policy and attacks on civil liberties. They were offered “change” and bought into it, recognizing that McCain was openly advocating a continuation of Bush’s policies, and not foreseeing that Obama would basically do the same once in office.
Yet that’s exactly what Obama has done, violating his promises to end the wars and stop torture, instead advancing the Bush doctrine he criticized while taking it 10 steps further by unilaterally assassinating American citizens and embracing new powers to indefinitely detain others. Persistent unemployment, endless and increased warfare, bailouts and stimuli compounding upon one another, and a staggering reversal on many of Obama’s important promises of “change” have led many young voters to look elsewhere. While he claims to be “inspired” by the youth who swept him into office, many of those former supporters are now looking elsewhere to find real and lasting change.
Three-quarters of youth voters want federal spending reduced; the rising generation would like to keep their paychecks and not be endlessly taxed to fund programs and policies that are flawed and doomed to fail. They’re sick of bailing out banks, subsidizing businesses, and paying into an entitlement system that will implode before they are old enough to use it themselves.
A majority of young voters want the wars to end, and the anti-war candidate they previously supported has only perpetuated and increased them. They are the ones being split apart from their families to live and die half a world away for a cause they neither understand nor believe in. Young Americans have their lives ahead of them, and are sick of seeing friends and family buried six feet underground prematurely. They want peace, and war only when necessary. They want to sacrifice neither life nor limb for oil, war profiteering, and a neo-imperialistic foreign policy.
Young voters want to be left alone, free from Internet censorship, business regulation, a failed war on drugs, and a nanny state presuming to protect them from themselves. They want the government to mind its own business while leaving them free to worry about theirs. Young voters recently left the care and oversight of their parents — they don’t want the government to simply replace that role and keep them in a state of juvenile subservience.
The rising generation has been witness to the past decade of fearmongering and lies from both major parties, and has thus become increasingly independent and libertarian in response to such rampant corruption and hypocrisy. They fail to find much consistency and principled leadership in the halls of government, and therefore develop strong anti-government undertones in their political ideology. Young voters tend to know a liar when they see one — and they see them often.