Society & Culture

By the Numbers

By looking at the numbers we can see the November 8, 2016 election stands to be one of the most important elections in modern United States history. Much is at stake with who America chooses to occupy the Oval Office. But, the Presidential election is arguably less important than the state and federal elections also taking place this fall. The President of the United States (POTUS) carries a level of executive authority, and an expectation of responsibility, that cannot be overstated. However, the POTUS is but one among thousands of elective offices in the federal republic. At the state and federal level there are a total of 7,968 elected offices in the executive and legislative branches of government. This fall, on November 8, on that single day, the People shall choose who will fill 6,400, or 80 percent, of those offices.

Not only are the overwhelming majority of state and federal offices up for grabs but this is the first time in half a century a new generation of eligible voters constitutes the majority.

The Baby Boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964, were born at a much higher rate—122.7 per 1,000 women—than the generations before and after. As a result, the Baby Boomers have dominated the eligible electorate rolls since 1970. But this year the Millennial generation outnumbers the Baby Boomers. Projections for Generation X, the generation between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, are that they will eventually outnumber the Baby Boomers by 2028.

What does this mean? In general terms, the Millennials tend to lean toward the progressive and liberal on the political spectrum. Today, Millennials have the numbers to drastically influence the political landscape. With the encouragement of the progress-minded Generation X and Baby Boomers, Millennials could become the strongest political force for progressive change in this country and, perhaps, the world.

But, Millennials also tend to be extremely disenchanted by politics and disheartened by what they have experienced and consumed through the media about politics. Millennials have never known a world where the U.S. was not at war in the Middle East. They have known only a recessive economy and many are saddled with extreme education debt. While Millennials tend to be angered about the political landscape and want change to happen, they also tend to distrust that they will be backed and supported by the generations that came before them. Millennials have been told all their lives that their generation is lazy and self-entitled. Instead of lifting up the voices of the Millennials, their elders, the Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers, have been standing on them.

This unfortunate disconnect between generations could prevent progressive change from a victory at the polls. People who want progress have dampened, unintentionally or not, the spirit of those who are literally inheriting the Earth.

Now, it’s crunch time. It’s more important than ever to inspire, encourage, and empower the Millennial generation to vote and to vote knowledgeably. It is time to encourage them to vote with the understanding that their integrity and the nation’s future depends on their fundamental right to vote.

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