We don’t vote. According to an NPR article published in May, “only 46 [percent of millennials] voted in the last presidential election.” Within the 46 percent registered, one finds party affiliations profoundly unbalanced. According to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, only 35 percent of millennials (who are registered to vote) identify as Republican, while 51 percent identify as Democratic. What can we deduce from this math? In short, there is a huge, untapped portion of the millennial generation that haven’t signed on to support either major political party.
So is this static? Will these figures always represent millennial party affiliation and voting registration? It’s entirely possible that someday, a special kind of candidate will bring millions of millennials into the Republican party.
The chief reason it hasn’t happened relates to the devolution of sorts that the GOP has undergone. In the last half-century, the GOP platform has become less about fiscal conservatism and family values. Their practices at the national level now have more to do with slandering the reputation of Democratic presidents, cutting environmental regulations, and resisting and reversing women’s reproductive rights. It seems almost trite to mention that these are not popular stances among our generation.
To exemplify the Republican party’s degeneration, consider how Republicans once embraced and have since abandoned the concepts of independence and personal liberty. Many of us probably are aware that a Republican president and Congress passed the PATRIOT Act, allowing personal data to be read by external forces (without a warrant) for the stated purpose of preserving national security. This lead to many of us balking at Republican’s incessant plea for limited government and personal liberty since hundreds of them passed a bill that reduces privacy more than any law passed since World War I.
There are other reasons why many millennials can’t really support Republicans at the moment: The Republican party is the only party among first world countries that presents a generally incredulous view toward the presence of climate science. Denialism, though they insist on calling it skepticism, is the apt description of countless Republican legislators seeking means of discrediting the data of climate science published from every legitimate research group. To those of us who have studied climate models, the greenhouse effect, and the potency of methane and carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases, this would seem a dangerous and complacent view for legislators to hold.
Then there is that other personal liberty: women’s reproductive rights. Republicans aren’t usually so hot on allowing contraception to be widely available. They are usually the chief opponents of sex education being taught in grade schools and a large, powerful portion of their party is always trying to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that first gave women the right to abortions nationally.
These stances represent additional inconsistencies between Republican appeals to preserving liberty and Republican attempts to limit or reduce individual liberties. If these stances weren’t enough to give you pause before signing up to vote for what has become the party of Trump … there’s more.
However, I won’t get into the “more” because what I’ve already said presents enough for most millennials to avoid registering for such a party. Instead, consider the opportunity Republicans have: If they were to become generally more friendly of women’s rights, many more female millennials would consider voting R. If the average Republican running for public office read the odd climate research paper, the more scientifically savvy millennials might start to give the GOP a good look.
Every time Republicans start adapting to the issues that millennials hold dear, there will be countless millennials ready to finally give the GOP the time of day and maybe even a vote. I’m one of them. Yet with the nomination of Donald Trump, they continue to alienate people like myself.