Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation as they are commonly referred to as, are the most unique voting bloc to ever participate in an American presidential election. For many, this comes as no surprise, as Millennials are also the largest voter constituency in the Election of 2016, so it would come to pass that the more voters there are in a group, the more diverse it would be. However, candidates need to be able to tap into these diverse voters and their ideologies if they want the potential for their victory to begin to transform into a more concrete inevitability. For this reason, candidates have been trying to do this very thing, with varying degrees of success. But once the idea of a progressive political revolution within the 2016 Presidential Election went from a very popular possibility to a ceremonious impossibility, there was an insurmountably large swathe of dissatisfaction and visceral anger that, like a swarm of locusts, expeditiously enveloped the hearts and minds of many young voters.
On the cusp of each major generational transition — like the shift from the Baby Boomers to Generation X, and more recently the shift from Generation Y to Generation Z — comes an inexplicably overwhelming desire for change. Not just any change, however, but change that will irrevocably alter the politics of the future; change lead and fostered by the young people of a generation’s end. We saw this in the 1960s, a period of political turmoil and instability not seen since the Great Depression. Social activism, delivered by a new sense of populist authority birthed from idealistic young minds, brought forth groups such as the Women’s Rights Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the Gay Rights Movement. All of these movements and organizations were comprised predominantly of young people who wanted change; who wanted the status quo to transcend the norm and challenge popular belief, and in doing so create a new America.
Now here we are, in 2016. The last of Generation Y has left the blissfully naïve comforts of childhood and taken on various roles of adulthood. Just like in the 1960s, political turmoil and instability has epitomized the new decade, as war, social unrest, and economic uncertainty ran rampant, and just like the last of the Baby Boomers, Millennials want change. They had seen war, they had seen social discourse, and through this the potential for more progress to be made was realized. Subsequently, they swore an oath to the predication that a revolutionary spirit is the kind of spirit that has the ability to redraw the political landscape of America for decades to come. That is why an overwhelming majority of Millennials gravitated towards Senator Bernie Sanders, by far the most revolutionary candidate to stake a claim in the Election of 2016. Unlike Secretary Hillary Clinton or Mr. Donald Trump, Senator Sanders recognized the generational similarities and decided that if America was ever truly going to change the way he envisioned it would, it needed to have the support and leadership of those whose future depended on whether or not change would occur.
However, once the dust of the Primaries settled and Secretary Clinton was revealed to be standing triumphant, young Americans reluctantly laid witness to the death throes of their potential revolution on a warm July evening in Philadelphia. What they believed would be an unprecedented political mix-up under the leadership of President Sanders collapsed in a way they never imagined or believed it would. The promise of a new America — an America conceived and postulated by their radically transformative and diverse ideals — became nothing more than what they always believed, whether wrongfully or otherwise, in the very fathoms of their minds: that government and politics could never work in their favor. The populist spirit, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, never existed to begin with and were merely a string of buzz words to keep the façade of revolution alive.
Revolutions come and go, and change is always eventually achieved, but the process through which Americans go in order to achieve this change is that which is defined by those who want it. And this overarching desire for change is almost always engendered in young people. If revolutionary change, like that which was promised in the Election of 2016, is never brought to fruition, then the vast majority of young people feel disenfranchised and left behind. They feel like their authority to be the change they wish to see in their country is not being recognized, despite decades of similar change spearheaded by their valiant predecessors. Above all, this is the central issue behind young Americans’ political apathy.