Political Parties Merit Support from Mormon Millennials, Not Shrugs

By Boyd, Hal | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), October 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

Political Parties Merit Support from Mormon Millennials, Not Shrugs


Boyd, Hal, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


The millennial generation, loosely defined as those born in the 80s and 90s, is America’s largest eligible voting block — that is, of course, if they would only show up to vote.

And it’s not just voting. Millennials are about as interested in political parties as they are in, say, playing canasta.

But, despite their poor reputations, political parties aren’t so bad — in fact, they are an essential component of a healthy republic.

Millennials should not abandon them. They should work to improve them.

This week, the Huffington Post partnered with Brigham Young University students to conduct 60 interviews with local Utah undergraduates, many of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Their resulting article, titled “Millennial Mormons Abandon Political Labels In The Age Of Trump,” details their answers to “wide-ranging questions about their political leanings, how their religious beliefs influenced their political views, how they use social media for news and their thoughts on the two-party system.”

Many of the millennials interviewed said, “they were motivated by individual candidates and causes, rather than political parties.”

Placing candidates and causes above partisanship is by no means an ignoble sentiment — after all, it was George Washington who warned the country against “the fury” and “continual mischiefs” that can come from a “spirit of party.”

John Adams did him one better, writing in 1780: “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

As these and other founders remind us, there are legitimate reasons to criticize parties and partisanship, especially the increasing polarization caused by extreme forms of partisanship.

And yet, the kind of enlightened disinterest in party affiliation that is coming into vogue among the rising generation may unintentionally lead to a form of self-selected disenfranchisement. By abandoning political parties out of apathy or intellectual purity does little to improve our political parties which, believe it or not, are in many ways supportive of good government.

Distinguished BYU political science professor David B. Magleby argues that, despite negative public perceptions, parties are an essential stabilizing force in modern democracy. He urges citizens to fully engage and affiliate with the party with which they most closely align. …

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