Millennials make political gestures, but don’t vote

Millennials make political gestures, but don’t vote August 12, 2015

Only a small percentage of the Millennial generation vote, according to a new study.  That’s not to say they aren’t interested in politics.  But they tend to express that interest by doing things like putting rainbows on their FaceBook pages and making other online gestures rather than actually voting.  Political views become identity markers, like the clothes they wear or the music they listen to, rather than anything having to do with actually governing.  Of course, Millennials are not the only ones who feel this way without voting.  This may explain today’s political landscape, which is big on image and ideology, but weak on pragmatic policy.

From Catherine Rampell, Where are all the young voters? – The Washington Post:

A new report from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University finds that, in 2014, youth voter turnout fell to its lowest level on record. Just 19.9 percent of 18- to 29-year-old citizens cast ballots last fall, compared with an average of 26.6 percent for the same age range in other midterm elections over the previous 40 years.

To be fair, voter turnout hit record lows across the board, not just among younger voters. But among the young, turnout fell especially steeply from an already low baseline. . . .

That’s not to say that today’s youth are completely alienated from the society they live in, or that they are indifferent to its politics. They may simply be expressing their civic activism and community concerns through alternative avenues — rainbow-shaded Facebook profile photos, BlackLivesMatter hashtags, online petitions — rather than the polling booth. A quarter of millennials say that at least half of the Facebook posts they see are related to politics, a higher share than is the case for Facebook users from older generations.


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