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Wilting Millennials

By Tetona Dunlap

Move over Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers, the Millennials are taking over the political scene. More diverse, optimistic and liberal than any other generation, they are feted in books like “Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics,” by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. They emerged from the presidential election of 2008 as a new breed of voters full of potential. Now they seem to suffer from growing pains.

Millennials are classified as anyone who was born between 1982 and 2003. They comprise over one-third of the U.S. voting population and are considered as highly adapted to the technological world. They were raised with the notion that they can change the world. That’s what Barack Obama represented to them, and that’s why he can credit his presidential victory to them.

I missed the Millennial generation cutoff by a year. I was born in 1981 and have been relegated to the less cool Generation X. There is some dispute over what birth years actually fall under which category, but I feel like I have more in common with the Millennials. I watch MTV, listen to an IPod, have a Facebook account and voted for Obama.

I also argue that this generation is fickle. It is quick to jump on the bandwagon or follow the newest trend. Obama-mania was the newest fad, and at the time, to be politically involved was the coolest thing to do.

Now that politics as usual has kicked in, young voter support has faded in the sun like the Obama bumper stickers on a Prius. Instead of simply wearing an iconic Hope-T-Shirt, we are all faced with reality. We have to deal with a struggling economy, a war in Afghanistan and health care reform.

If this generation were really interested in politics, it would be involved in all facets of the political system. According to the American University Center for the Study of the American Electorate, 21 states held their governor or Senate primaries on a different date than their presidential contests, and only 14 percent of eligible voters voted. I do not refute the fact this generation is a force to be reckoned with, but I think it still has some growing up to do.

I include myself in this group when I say this. We do not quite know what we stand for just yet. We have an idea of how the world works, but we are still OK with letting the other generations make the real decisions. Yet the fact we rallied around and elected a president like Obama speaks well for the future. We are just now dipping our feet into the political pool, but we haven’t completely jumped in yet.

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