In 2008, millennials swept President Obama into office by turning out to vote in unprecedented numbers and did so again in 2012. The record turnout among millennials in both of these elections sent forth the message that we are the deciding factor in an election.
Fast forward two years, we find ourselves at the 2014 midterms. Millennials are not predicted to turn out in large numbers. In fact, in places like Iowa, polls are expecting turn-out to drop from 54 percent to 26 percent.
President Obama, who remains relatively popular among younger voters, is not on any ballot, and the younger generation does not seem enthused by the candidates being put forth by either party.
This election is going to be extremely close. Republicans are riled up — they have been waiting for precisely this moment and the momentum is building; the battle cry is, “Six seats!” Democrats are looking to hold on to the Senate and prove that, despite past fumbles, the party that promised hope and change can still deliver.
Across the country, both parties are phone banking, fundraising and door knocking. The Democrats are bringing out figures like Hillary Clinton to campaign for candidates in races that are too close to call. Republicans are relying on a solid donor base to fund their expansive efforts. Meanwhile, if you ask a millennial if they are planning on voting, only about 23 percent will give a definite yes.
Why? The experts keep throwing around the word “disillusionment,” and they are right. Maybe you hoped for change in 2008 and 2012 but have not seen evidence of such change. Maybe you are over petty partisan bickering and the perpetual gridlock.
However, whatever the reason for disillusionment may be, remember that we can shape that disillusionment into a ballot. The people we send to Congress on Nov. 4 are the people who are going to make decisions that will affect our future. If we do not join the conversation, we cannot shape its outcome.
And if you do not like the topic of conversation? Well, go out and vote to change it. Many millennials feel that the national rhetoric is not addressing the issues they care about. Student loans, education, immigration reform, marriage equality — whatever issue it may be, if your representatives or senators are not addressing issues that you care about, let them know by casting a ballot.
So whether you are a conservative, liberal, Tea Party or Green Party supporter — go vote! If you are not registered to vote in Massachusetts, fill out an absentee ballot: If you do not know who is running in your district, Google it!
This next congress is going to make decisions that are going to affect you. Whether you are a political junky or have zero interest in politics does not matter. The fact is, decisions will be made, legislation will be passed and the political world will keep on spinning. Have a say in which direction it spins.