It’s time to face the facts. The millennial generation has more influence over politics today than they themselves are even aware of. This meme-loving, media-consuming, tech-obsessed group of voices has the ability to create change with more than just a vote. This is an opportunity never granted to their ancestors, who lived in a world devoid of the internet and social media.
With movements like Black Lives Matter and Me Too being heavily supported and spread throughout social media, millennials hold much of the power in their voices, especially online.They are also bringing a new perspective to issues, seeing as they are a more diverse generation than any one preceding them.
Not only are they the most diverse, but they are soon to become the largest in population. Their capability to change the political landscape resides not in their voter turnout, as it did for generations before. Instead, the opportunity that technology and the media gives to create noise could be what brings about real change.
As stereotypes go, they are considered to be the most far left generation yet, and there is truth to this. Millennials are the most liberal and democratic generation of legal voting age. However, they are also surprisingly non-partisan.
Only 31% of millennials find there to be a significant difference between identifying as a republican versus democrat. In fact, almost half of them identify as political independents, choosing not to side with one party or the other. Even though such a large portion are independent, they still tend to lean towards the left in their voting, with democratic candidates enjoying a 27-percentage-point advantage among millennial voters.
So, while the majority of their potential to create political change comes from the boom in social media, a large part of it as well stems from the predicted tilt in voting, shifting power from more conservative baby boomers to liberal millennials. However, it is not as black and white as this. Despite bringing a rise in liberal voices, there is still a vocal community of conservative millennials as well.
But the dynamic of conservatism is changing. Many conservatives are pushing for the abandonment of traditional values in order to appeal to the incoming adult generation. Traditionalists view this as a disregard for what it means to be a conservative at its core, but appealing to the youth may give conservatives a larger audience to which they push their agenda.
In 2016, a social media site for conservatives called Codias launched. The site provides a safe space for those identifying as right wing conservatives to build a community, or “coalition” of those who have the same political stances.
Social media, whether it be mainstream sites such as Instagram or Twitter, or lesser known programs like Codias, gives politically vocal individuals a platform that activists in past generations never had access to. Possibilities for how this alone can change the political landscape as we know it are endless.
It is unclear how exactly we may see politics shift in the next few years, especially with the 2020 election only a year away. We have already seen extreme reactions to the Trump election and administration from both liberal and conservatives. If millennials can take advantage of the power given to them by technology, as well as show up to the polls, we may see significant changes take place in a short period of time.
Caroline Moll is an undergraduate student at Worcester State University. When she is not writing, she also runs a photography business specializing in portrait, wedding, and boudoir photography. She aims to use both writing and photography to empower women and encourage them to find their inner voice and confidence.