Presidential Campaign

The 2016 election: A lose-lose scenario for millennials

If there is one thing millennials learned about this election, it is that we need to worry about our future. As we become more involved in shaping it, this election has done little to give us confidence.

When the primary season first kicked off, millennials were enthusiastic. Young people on both sides of the political spectrum volunteered for campaigns and PACs, as well as formed student groups on campuses to advocate for candidates, such as Students for Rand and Students for Sanders.

{mosads}Conservative students were eager to learn more about the 17 candidates fighting for the Republican nomination, and liberal students realized their newfound love for the previously little-known independent Senator Bernie Sanders. The primaries were an exciting time for young people who were able to vote for president for the first time.

Now, a year later, with primaries long over, and only a day until Election Day, this is no longer the case. Americans are sick and tired of the year-and-a-half long election season. However, for millennials, it goes beyond this. Young voters like myself not only have a bitter taste in our mouths, but are concerned about the state of our country and what it means for our future.

We often question whether either candidate will address the issues that are most important to us. As young people working through college, entering the workforce, or already trying to climb the ladder within our chosen fields, the economy is the issue that we most care about.

Like every generation before us, we grew up believing in the American dream: that idea that we could accomplish anything if we worked hard enough to make it happen. Many of us saw our parents or grandparents as role models and we wanted to enjoy the same accomplishments they achieved. Our hope for this election, for many of us, was based on a desire to have those same opportunities and achievements.

Young voters are looking for a leader that they can trust. After the revelations surfaced showing how the DNC helped Hillary Clinton win the party’s nomination Bernie Sanders’ supporters were outraged, justifiably. At the Democratic National Convention, Sanders supporters were outside protesting, refusing to give their support to Clinton even when all seemed lost for Sanders.

There is no doubt that Sanders had massive support from young Democratic voters, many of whom were reluctant to give their votes to Clinton, who they saw as corrupt and out-of-touch.

This ruined the hopes of many young voters who supported him for his strong stance against Wall Street and big money in elections and embraced his call to make college affordable. To see him throw his support to Clinton, a woman funded primarily by Wall Street, was devastating to many young voters. Their revolution never came, just the nomination of a woman who has been in power for nearly 30 years.

Trump also struggles with the younger demographic. In recent polls, support for Clinton nearly doubles support for Trump among millennials. Some young people truly support Trump, but many are voting for Trump solely for the sake of defeating Clinton. In the primaries, young conservatives overwhelmingly voted for Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz over Trump.

Even Gary Johnson has let millennials down. There is a large and growing movement of young libertarians who have helped grow organizations like Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and Students for Liberty (SFL). Despite the support for limited government policies among many young voters, Johnson failed to use the most divisive election to his advantage in growing the base of the Libertarian Party.

Instead, he repeatedly made a fool of himself and proved incapable of acting presidential or holding true to libertarian principles. 

It is clear that this presidential race has left many with mixed feelings. Trump and Sanders were both successful in captivating people who never before engaged in politics or voted, but many regular voters on both sides were discouraged and dissatisfied.

It is important that both groups remain interested in politics. Regardless of who wins, the voter turnout among Americans is one of the lowest in the world. This needs to change because voting is a necessity if we want to bring change. The way for millennials to ensure a bright and prosperous future is to embrace the bipartisanship that is absent from today’s political system.

We should be glad to hear stories about politicians meeting for dinner despite their many disagreements. We should want conservatives and liberals alike to see the best in each other, wish the best for each other, and work together out of a shared interest in making our nation stronger.

The baby boomer generation has been the primary voter bloc in recent years, but this is changing. The Pew Research Center reports that this may be the last time the boomer generation dominates an election. Millennials not only need to actually vote, they need to overcome their frustration with this election and look toward the future.

It is time for millennials to fight back against the divisiveness present in our political system and promote, campaign for, and perhaps one day be candidates with good leadership, respect, and integrity.

Kassy Dillon is a junior at Mount Holyoke College studying International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies. She is the MHC College Republican President, the Massachusetts YAL state chair, and she is also the founder of She can be found on Twitter at @KassyDillon.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. 
Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Gary Johnson Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio Millenials Presidential Election 2016 Ted Cruz

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