Aileen Koch, graduate of Lebanon Valley College and elementary music teacher, is what society defines as a typical Millennial. Next to hiking and exploring nature, Koch is an avid Instagramer and loves Snpachatting pictures of her dog.
Like most Americans her age, Koch believes that the government has “commercialized” politics and is disinterested in actively pursuing involvement.
“I just think there is a lot of smoke, mirrors and tangled webs in government which makes it hard to want to support and stay interested,” Koch said.
Koch believes that Millennials represent the “generation of change,” and postulates that Millennial voices are negatively targeted by older generations.
The generational gap continues to widen as Millennials such as Koch see the government change into a very opinionated, less unified unit.
According to the Pew Research Center, 26 percent of Millennials say politics and government are in their top-three interests. Such a percentage is significantly lower compared to the older generations. A total of 34 percent of Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) and 45 percent of Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) said politics and government are in their top three.
Interestingly, sources state that the Millennial generation is more intrigued by their civic duty then contradictions found in today’s governmental system. They are not finding their answers or ability to express civic responsibility through governmental avenues.
“Young people still care about our country. But we will likely see more volunteerism than voting,” said John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
A study directed by the institute concluded that Millennials have far more confidence in community volunteerism and innovation than the government.
“You can have all the votes you want, but, to me, actions speak louder than ballots. If you are out there helping others and making a difference, I think that makes more of an impact in our society rather than just voting” Koch said.
According to The Atlantic, next to volunteerism, Millennials desire transparency and accountability, both of which the government cannot fully provide its citizens.
“The reason Millennials don’t vote is because politics doesn’t serve their interests. The reason politics doesn’t serve their interests is because they don’t vote,” said Robert Montenegro of Big Think.
Although such a notion is not true for all Millennials.
Sara Keating is a recent graduate of Cairn University who received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. Keating whole-heartedly believes that every American citizen should express interest in politics.
“With so many men and women laying down their lives for my rights, I will continue to exercise the freedoms that they are dying for,” Keating said.
Unlike the majority of Millennials, Keating is intrigued by the government’s ability to impact individuals both socially and economically every day.
“As citizens of a democracy, we need to be aware of what is going on in the government and that is why it interests me overall,” Keating said.
Yet Keating is representative of a small percentage of Millennials who are actively engaged with the government. As stated by Big Think, less than one-third of millennials believe that running for office is commendable.
So the million dollar question is, “What is stopping the majority of Millennials from engaging in today’s political arena?”
To Caroline Baker, graduate of Grove City College who received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and minor in Communication and Visual Arts, the answer is simple.
“There can never be a solution that everyone feels benefitted by, and that is frustrating to us Millennials,” Baker said.
Baker believes that Millennials feel distant, disconnected, and distracted.
“Staying up-to-date on governmental information and candidate details feels like a lot of work,” Baker said. “We just do not feel connected.”
Sources believe that Millennials’ disinterest in politics is also connected with their insufficient knowledge of news sources.
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that when asked about 36 news sources, Millennials only recognized 18 organizations. Top identifiable sources included USA Today, The Washington Post, The Sean Hannity Show, and Bloomberg. Higher percentages of recognition were found in digital-based news corporations including Google News and Buzzfeed. According to Post Planner, such a notion is a no-brainer considering that 59 percent of Millennials consult social media for information.
More than two-thirds of Millennials believe that politicians are working for self-gain and are not adhering to their top concerns including student debt, job opportunity, and environmental issues such as global warming.
In the 2010 midterms, 75 percent of Americans ages 18 to 30 actively chose not to participate and similar numbers are projected to arise this year.
The majority of Millennials believe that their voices are not being heard, so the cycle of low government participation continues.
As a motivated individual with a passion for creative storytelling and quality content, Communication Studies has evidenced my ever growing love for news broadcast. At Grove City College, I excel as an honors student, radio director, and contributing writer for GCC’s newspaper, The Collegian.