“I think it’s more about social media and how views are changing throughout this generation,” said Kelsey Krepps (12), “so they tend to be more open.” The “Millennials,” or people ages 18-33, are the generation that’s throwing a curve ball into past generations political opinions. Past generations tended to vote more Republican, especially after 9/11. However, an uprising of Independent and Democratic voters were brought to light when a new generation hit the polls in early 2010’s. 2010 was the beginning of the Arab Spring, young adults were angry at their government for lack of work and high levels of poverty in their country. In the U.S there was the Occupy Wallstreet movement that was about everything and without a clear common goal.
“I knew I was a liberal about a year ago, [but] some kids don’t know what liberal is,” said Stephen Magierka IV (12). Researches agree that children begin to figure out where they fall on the political spectrum when they are in their late teens, which fits for Magierka. On the other hand, sociology teacher Mr. McNeal says “Around 13/14 … That’s when you start relying on your peer group more.” Researchers from the Pew Research Center have discovered that most kids begin to look at the news more closely in high school, but do not begin to have affirmed opinions until they are in their late teens and early 20’s.
As of 2012, 38% of voting Americans affiliate with the Democratic side, 25% Republican, leaving 33% for Independent (noting here that the Tea Party falls under the Independent sect), according to the Pew Research Center. The Millennials political affiliations can be broken down into 50% Independent, 21% Democratic, and 1% Republican. However, this is the way that Millenials tend to vote, most independent voters call themselves liberals. This rise in liberalism against other generations is because the Millenials face challenges that other generations do not have. Including a substantial rise in student loan debt, as well as higher levels of poverty and lower levels of personal wealth compared to their preceding generations: Generation X (ages 34-49); The Baby Boomers (age 50-68); and the Silent Generation (ages 69-86). Student debt is higher because of the pressure to go to a good college (with higher tuition rates) and because the ramifications of not getting at least a four year degree are much higher than they were 15 years ago. For the Millennials, there is a direct correlation between a four year degree and higher pay.
More and more Millennials are voting liberal because of the social policy, LGBTQA+* rights, pro-choice, and other controversial topics one does not talk about at dinner. “I’m going to vote for the person who supports my own personal values,” said Ryan Poniedzielski (12), “because I don’t want a person who’s not going to stand up for my rights. I think that they should let Bert and I get married that that it a liberal view,” Poniedzielski finished, imitating Ernie from Sesame Street. Recently there has been some changes on Michigan’s voter approved Proposal 04-2. This amendment banned same-sex marriages and civil unions in the state. However, District Justice Bernard A. Freidman overturned this ban on March 21st and called it unconstitutional under the confines the U.S Constitution – regardless of what the state’s amendment or what the voters said. Between those hours, 300 gay and lesbian couples flocked to their local county clerk’s offices and filed marriage licenses. Shortly afterward, on late March 22nd Attorney General Eric Holder called on emergency stay. Fortunately for those 300 couples, Holder declared that their marriages will be recognized by the federal government.
“We don’t want to be like our parents,” said Taylor Sweet (12). And this is true; every generation is different, each with their own set of problems, each with their own issues.
*The “A” stand for asexual, not ally.