As millennials ourselves, it can be disheartening to read the stats that come in about our generation’s (inexplicably) lackluster support for Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonGOP PAC ad turns Clinton’s debate words against her Pro-Clinton super PAC taunts Trump for touting temperament Facebook: More than 18 million engaged in debate conversation MORE. According to a new Reuters poll, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersMichael Moore to Clinton supporters: Trump 'won' NBC's Lester Holt emerges from debate bruised and partisan Debate 2016: Trump didn't win, but neither did Hillary MORE (I-Vt.) has a 58-point lead over Hillary among voters under 30.
But we know that there’s a different story to tell than what we’re getting from the political pundits and pollsters. There is a group of us—an expansive network—that is backing Hillary because we know that she’s been fighting our battles for decades (before many of us were old enough to even know we had political battles to fight).
We don’t need pundits to confirm the excitement; we have the RSVPs to prove it. But, in fact, a new poll from Langer Research revealed that millennials are equally enthusiastic about either a Clinton or Sanders presidency. Of course, that’s not anything like a ringing endorsement, but neither is it the completely lopsided picture being painted by media.
What will it take for the headlines to reflect that reality? In a media cycle that may as much influence events as report them, it’s easy to see the tidal wave effect of journalists who are more interested in grabbing a cresting storyline than in looking for a more nuanced view to present.
Supporting Hillary is not just about voting a woman into the White House (though that carries symbolic weight). It goes far beyond that: Hillary has been fighting for women’s rights since her college days, from defending reproductive health to closing the income gap. As First Lady, Hillary famously called women’s rights a human rights issue (beating Emma Watson and the #HeForShe movement by decades). But her work goes well beyond being a longtime advocate for gender equality.
That breadth matters, because we millennials are highly diverse. We are students and workers that cross all sectors, as well as entrepreneurs, artists and parents. The two of us are both “millennials,” but we span 10 years and live different lives. We’re frustrated by polls that overclaim and undercount. And we’re collectively tired of being reduced to a single slice of the pie chart.
Our generation does, however, share one trait: Most of us will be around in 30 years, and we’ll be forced to deal with the consequences of today’s decisions. That morbid truth unites us around some pressing issues:
Global Warming. Our ice caps are melting, our oceans are rising, and we need a president who can unite the world against climate change. As Secretary of State, Hillary worked across borders to protect the environment, and she has the global experience and detailed plans to protect our natural resources and help jump-start the new energy economy that will employ so many of us.
Entrepreneurship. We’re the digitally connected generation, and we’ve grown up in an era of unprecedented innovation. We know that with Hillary, America will continue to lead the world in startup growth—more Googles and Facebooks, but also more social ventures in food, energy and health. Hillary has a plan to boost entrepreneurship that takes a long-term approach to growing firms through lower taxes and streamlined bureaucracy.
College loans. We need to repair the $1.2 trillion student debt crisis. College debt burdens families and overwhelms young adults, many of whom are forced to live at home. Hillary released a plan, the New College Compact, which aims to reduce public tuition and cut interest rates.
We get it. We millennials are idealistic and many are drawn to Sanders’ pie-in-the-sky proposals—but let’s show the world that we’re realistic, too, by backing a candidate whose proposals are not just pro-people and (moderately) progressive but are also actually workable. Let’s recognize that we need someone like Hillary to break through bipartisan gridlock to lead the country. And we’d like to read that story in the media, too.
Kessler is investment associate for Brandywine Realty Trust and a member of the Hilraiser Finance committee for HFA. Kessler-Dellaccio is co-owner of Dolci Gelati in DC.