Let me start off by saying that political apathy – and I mean true political apathy – comes from a place of privilege. Unfortunately, a large portion of the millennial generation doesn’t have that privilege. And we’re all a little scared of who our next president may be.
The two main party candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both represent ideals that the millennial generation just isn’t buying. Racism. Classicism. Sexism. Xenophobia. Homophobia. Transphobia. For members of the millennial generation these are outdated biases, yet both our current main party candidates represent these ideals in some way or another.
This past week, on the day of the presidential debate, I gathered a group of millennials together to discuss if they were voting, why they were voting, and how important they felt it was to vote.
The conversation gradually transitioned into a talk on what our political system needed for a makeover. Here are the answers I got.
Are you voting for [a main-party candidate] in the upcoming presidential election?
“Yes, even though I disagree with both candidates. I mean I’m not voting because I want to choose one of the main party candidates but because the alternative is s**t.”
“I mean yeah, I’d rather not vote for Clinton but having Trump as a president would be a nightmare.”
“It’s an annoying place to be in, but people our age are not out voting – so people aren’t voting and then are complaining that they’re not getting what they want and things are getting worse. If we go out and vote, at least we can influence things to be less terrible…”
Is utilizing your right to vote a productive way to facilitate change in the government?
“No, it’s not a productive way to achieve change. It’s kind of a lesser of two evils sort of thing.”
“The way that the American political system is set up is rigged against any real change.”
So how can our generation facilitate change?
“Well overthrowing the government would be ideal, but it’s costly and dangerous to destroy our current form of government.”
“I mean, in order to create any actual change, the oppressor must be forced to make change. Which they’re not.”
“Maybe people our age should be trying to get into office, or at least staging boycotts and protests.”
“People that have connections should do more.”
“Let’s just wait for the old people to die.”
What do you think are necessary elements for our current political system to change?
“We need more women and minorities in power. Even those ‘in power’ aren’t necessarily in power.”
“Well no, it shouldn’t be about getting women and minorities in power. It should be about getting a qualified person in power…unlike one of the main candidates who is clearly unqualified to run.”
“But also people need to be represented….”
“Well, I think we need more young people in power. Representation is important but I feel like it’s even more important to have younger people or people who understand things contributing to our government.”
“Right. I mean a lot of policies were made a while ago – should they still apply today? Things are stagnant. But times are changing.”
“How old are the people in congress? If you don’t know how to use the internet, you should not be making national policies.”
“So maybe it’s not about representation of women and minorities, but just about people who at least understand contemporary society better.”
During this discussion, my peers basically reached the same conclusions that I did last presidential election: We’re not making a big difference by voting in the presidential election, but it’s better than not voting. In order to continue to facilitate change, passionate youth should try to get involved in grass-root and national politics and start to replace the antiquated schools of thought that still govern our society.
Trump and Clinton represent outdated ideologies, ideologies that the majority of our generation does not want influencing politics, systems, and laws. But the best we can do (aside from voting for the lesser of two evils) is start becoming active in government on all levels, voicing our opinions, and staging protests and boycotts. And hopefully, we’ll be a generation that makes some lasting change.