My mom, who forever has a dark sense of humor, always jokes that when her generation dies off, things will get better. She talks about how my siblings and I — and our generation — have a different set of values than what she grew up with — differences that she sometimes laments and sometimes praises.
So, mom, while I don’t necessarily look forward to your death, nor do I think that the death of you and your peers is going to inherently herald in a new progressive era…I appreciate your analysis that my generation, overall, has quite different core values and beliefs than yours grew up with (again, overall).
And, as of 2016, Millennials and Baby Boomers had the same numbers of eligible voters. If you add in our predecessors — Generation X — and this upcoming generation — post-Millennials (do y’all have a name yet?) — we make up the MAJORITY of eligible voters in this country.
Let me repeat that: WE. ARE. THE. MAJORITY.
That means that, collectively, we could have more voting power than older generations. That is, if we use that power to vote. And there’s plenty of data that says Millennials tend to lean progressive, and plenty of think pieces that try to posit why.
But, according to at least one study, only 28 percent of Millennials report that they are “absolutely certain” they will vote in the upcoming midterms. Whereas 74 percent of seniors reports they are certain they’ll be voting.
So what gives? Why can’t we see our collective power?
No one ever says this, and I feel like it’s worth saying: yes, your literal, individual vote does not matter. Your individual vote does not have a statistically significant impact on the results of an election. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
But, it’s what we do together that matters.
Plenty of my friends are pretty disenchanted with the system. And, to be honest, I can’t really argue with that perspective.
We live in a transphobic, white supremacist, xenophobic and sexist culture, and a single election is not going to change that. One single election is not going to keep my friends (and their families) at risk of deportation safe. One single election is not going to change rape culture and the prevalence of sexual assault. One single election is not going to keep my friends of color safe from police violence. One single election is not going to change the fact that we are all drowning in student debt, making the stability provided by home ownership seem like a very distant dream.
But conservatives, particularly the Religious Right, have learned that wins don’t start out as sweeping changes. It starts with chipping away at abortion access or voting rights. It starts with shifting power in state legislatures over several elections to become the majority (and cheating by re-districting and rigging maps is certainly one way to help do that). It starts with small changes and seemingly innocuous policies that pave the way for their larger political agendas.
So, I want to ask you this: will you commit to voting this election? The governor’s race is going to be a tight one, and if we collectively turn out to vote that WILL have a huge impact. What’s more can you commit to making sure five of your friends get to the polls, too?
And then please, get back to the work you are doing trying to survive in this gig economy; get back to organizing informal support groups for other survivors you know every time this sh*t pops up in the news; get back to arguing with or intentionally ignoring your Trump-supporting family members; get back to Tinder dates and everything else that makes up our lives.
But look around. WE. ARE. THE. MAJORITY. If we vote and get our friends to vote THIS ELECTION, we can start to shift things. We can break conservative strangleholds on policy making at the state level. We can push back against the entitlement to power that folks like Trump wield every day. We can celebrate the Park Cannons, and Sam Parks and Stacey Abrams of Georgia who bring new perspectives and authentic values to their work as lawmakers, and have fought or are fighting to be the first — the first openly queer young black woman, the first gay Korean-American, potentially the first black women — to claim their space and their power in Georgia politics.
So, will you do it? Will you vote? Will you vote AND bring friends, date-mates, Tinder hook-ups, and roommates with you?