Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

What If Millennials Get Politically Active?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

What If Millennials Get Politically Active?

Article excerpt

If gun control becomes the gateway issue that entices distrustful millennials into the voting booth, America is in for a makeover.

Never before has this country produced a generation with political views and demographic traits so different from those of its elders. On nearly every important issue -immigration, health care, climate change, gender equality, racial disparity, sexual identity, economic inequality, size of government, use of military force, presidential disapproval -millennials are by far our most liberal adult generation.

Ironically, gun control is one of the few issues that has never generated a generation gap. But by dint of their numbers, life stage and core values, millennials have the potential to move the U.S. beyond the angry stalemate that has seen an aging political class drive policy to the right while a youth-centric popular and commercial culture pushes the rest of society to the left. If millennials start voting at the same rate as older generations, they'll align policy with zeitgeist.

This will not happen overnight. And it might not happen at all, because most millennials are allergic to politics and wary about human nature. They've been leaders or foot soldiers in progressive movements -Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, "dreamers," #MeToo -but their activism has been "more throat than vote."

Millennials came of age in an era when technology reinvents the world every day, while politics is mired in a toxic mess of gridlock, backlash and recrimination. In the last midterm election, just 20 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted, fewer than half the share of their elders in 2014 and a third less than the share of their same-aged counterparts who voted back in 1978.

What makes millennials so distinctive and potentially so transformational comes down to a single characteristic: diversity.

About 44 percent of millennials are black, Hispanic, Asian or mixed race. …

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