What the 2016 Election Means to My Millennial Generation Destiny Goede

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1 JMI Campus Representatives What the 2016 Election Means to My Millennial Generation Destiny Goede T he 2016 election has definitely been one for the books, with nontraditional candidates bringing out new demographics of voters and capturing the world s attention. This election year also marks an important milestone for my generation. This will be the first time that millennials will surpass the Baby Boomers as 14 The Journal, Fall 2016 the largest living generation, and in turn, our generation will have the largest proportion of voters. This leaves an immense amount of power to millennials, quite literally, the power to change America s future. As a 20-year-old college student at the University of Florida, I have taken a special interest in the political arena throughout my college

2 career, as have many of my peers. Serving this past year as a Campus Representative for The James Madison Institute, I enjoyed putting in the hard work to share the ideals of free markets, economic freedom and individual responsibility with the students at the University of Florida. On a primarily liberal campus, I was astonished with the overwhelming amount of support I gained from my peers throughout this process. Students were interested in the liberty movement and eager to get involved. The support and engagement from my peers gave me nothing but anticipation for the presidential election. We were all excited to work on our first presidential campaigns and to stand up for what we believed America s future should entail. However, as the presidential nomination process came into full swing, it seemed that the election was going to take a much different turn. Millennials have been called the social media generation, a moniker that became very evident at the start of this election cycle. We utilized Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other social media outlets to express our beliefs and opinions on the candidates. Consequently, social media has become the heart of many political campaigns and has been used as a tool to attract votes from targeted age groups, specifically millennials. A candidate can Social media has become the heart of many political campaigns and has been used as a tool to attract votes from targeted age groups, specifically millennials. now target voters through their shopping preferences or Internet searches, allowing that candidate to reach a specific group of voters through social media marketing and advertisements tailored to the websites voters use and frequently visit. This has contributed to very distinct support groups for the current presidential nominees. As a consequence, this election has changed the way that many Americans view the presidency. For example, prior to the Obama administration, news was constricted to television stations and newspapers. However, now at the touch of a button, someone can visit Apple News and view articles on any topic, issue or candidate. Even more remarkable, the news adapts to the type of articles and topics that a specific person prefers. This creates a news outlet that is biased specifically to someone s personal views, creating a group of voters that could never be exposed to an opposing viewpoint - which opens up a wormhole of possibilities for voters and candidates alike. For many, this election could mean the first woman president for America or an entrepreneur who would be the richest president to date both very unique candidates with distinctive voter demographics. However, it seems that my generation has become so caught up in the media frenzy that everyone has forgotten 15

3 to take a step back and actually understand where the candidates stand on the issues. After speaking with many of my peers about the upcoming election, it seems that one word repeatedly comes up across various conversations. That word is polarizing. Our two presidential candidates, the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, have created such specific candidacy groups that they have polarized the American public - my generation in particular. For millennials, there seems to be no in-between regarding views on the candidates, it s either Make America Great Again hats galore or Hillary bumper stickers on every corner of campus. Whether this was accomplished by targeting millennials on social media platforms or through the attacks on the general establishment, this election year has surely raised tensions among the American public and has subsequently pitted many Americans against each other. With divisive social policy issues such as abortion, gun rights, and other hot topics front and center, it seems that economic and fiscal policies have taken a back burner in importance to my generation. These social issues have only The winner of the 2016 presidential race will create and attempt to execute the policies that will take effect when my era of millennials enter the workforce, making this an election that fiscal and economic conservatives cannot afford to lose. contributed to the polarization that the candidates themselves have facilitated. This is an important time for Americans and especially for millennials; the future of America, as well as my own personal future, lies in this election. The winner of the 2016 presidential race will create and attempt to execute the policies that will take effect when my era of millennials enter the workforce, making this an election that fiscal and economic conservatives cannot afford to lose. As many millennials graduate from college thousands of dollars in debt and begin to look for jobs, a capitalist economy and secure economic freedom have never been more important. Government regulations and socialist economic policies will not provide my generation with the jobs that we need to succeed. Millennials are shaping the market each day with new innovative platforms such as Uber, Lyft, Amazon, and various other technological revolutions that have transformed our economy. America needs a president that will be able to adapt to millennials, not a president who will seek to have millennials adapt to him or her. Our generation needs a president who will support economic freedom a concept that our generation often overlooks 16 The Journal, Fall 2016

4 The Journal of The James Madison Institute or doesn t understand. Right now millennials have the power to swing this election in one direction or the other. However, the question that everyone is asking is, Will millennials show up to the polls and actually vote? I currently head the student voter registration movement at the University of Florida, called Chomp the Vote. As the head of this Student Government organization, I help provide the students of the University of Florida with opportunities to register or update their voter information, educate them about current political issues, and implement conducive measures to encourage voter mobilization - all in a nonpartisan way. Leading this movement and working with students every day has given me a unique perspective Students on Florida Gulf Coast University s (FGCU) campus share on the 2016 election and what freedom means to them. This initiative was part of JMI s Campus voter participation. At the Representatives program on the FGCU campus. University of Florida, we have an incredible amount of contrast), I strongly believe that we will see support from groups on campus and from an increase in the millennials who actually faculty alike to support civic engagement show up to the polls and cast votes. The efforts. Everyone wants to mobilize candidates this year have taken a special millennials to vote and to get millennials interest in millennials and I predict this will involved in the election process. Year after have a corresponding effect at the polls. year, the number of younger voters who So what does the 2016 election turn out to the polls seems to be consistently actually mean to my generation? It means lower than older generations. This year (in our first jobs, our ability to start families in a 17

5 prosperous economy, and most importantly the ability and chance to live the American Dream. Millennials have been exposed to eight years of Obama administration policies and the impacts and effects they ve had on our economy. President Obama was elected when I was in eighth grade. At that time, I was just beginning to learn what economic policies were and how they affected me as an individual. Now, eight years later, as I am entering my senior year of undergraduate studies, I can most definitively say that I strongly believe the reason my generation has been supporting liberals and their policies is because we have never been able to actually experience a healthy and deregulated economy. Additionally, the sole reason most millennials are supporting The sole reason most millennials are supporting liberal candidates... is because we have never had a chance to experience the direct effect of a different policy prescription. liberal candidates such as Bernie Sanders, who walks on the edge of socialist policies, is because we have never had a chance to experience the direct effect of a different policy prescription. I am here to say we deserve that chance. This is the millennials opportunity to change America s future for the better. As a generation, it is our duty to exercise our right to vote, to help shape the future for the next generation and for ourselves. I challenge all millennials to get out and vote. To the millennials: this is our presidential election and I encourage you to show America what this election truly means to you! Destiny Goede is a student at the University of Florida and a JMI Campus Representative. 18 The Journal, Fall 2016

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