Election 2016

Are Young Voters Sick of the Two-Party System?

Millennials recently became the largest voting bloc in the United States. And they may be ready to destroy the system.

Photo Credit: PD-US / Wikimedia Commons

As the reality of a “binary choice” between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump becomes all too clear, a large portion of young voters are rejecting the two-party system that has long dominated the U.S. political scene.

According to a poll by GenForward, only 28 percent of people in the crucial 18-30 demographic agree that the “two major parties do a good job of representing the American people.”

The future looks even bleaker for the Republicans: more than two-thirds of young voters—and especially young minority voters—say the Grand Old Party does not care about them. (First step to fix this, I humbly submit: choose a more subtle, less ageist nickname.)

Comparatively, support among millennials is much stronger for the Democratic Party. Fifty-three percent of young Americans say Democrats care about the issues important to them. According to a USA Today poll, about half of young people surveyed identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning.

But that doesn’t mean smooth sailing for the world’s oldest active party. In an interview with the Associated Press in July, 22-year-old Emiliano Vera—who aligned with the Democratic Party during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run—echoed a sentiment common among millennial voters: “This is the last straw for me.”

Vera, who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, is currently considering a vote for Green Party nominee Jill Stein. The last straw for him was evidence that while the Democratic Party certainly purports to care about young people, actions speak louder than words. And for Vera and other millennials like him, the revelation that the Democratic National Committee colluded to tip the scales in favor of Clinton over Sanders during the primary campaign, was all they needed to hear. Young voters were all in for Sanders.

“It’s hard to overemphasize how completely and utterly Sen. Bernie Sanders dominated the youth vote to this point in the 2016 presidential campaign,” the Washington Post reported in June. “In the 2016 campaign, Sanders won more votes among those under age 30 than the two presumptive major-party presidential nominees combined. And it wasn’t close.”

A 2014 Pew study found that people born after 1980, “are more racially diverse and socially liberal than any other age group,” the New York Times reports. And while millennials tend to agree the Democratic Party is generally more in line with their liberal values, “40 percent of those in this age group say they are politically independent.”

Among those early supporters of a Sanders presidency and progressive platform, a July poll by the Hill found almost half were considering supporting a third-party candidate in lieu of Clinton.

While this youth exodus spells trouble for established political parties, it could be welcome news for a democracy that increasingly positions elections as a “binary choice,” inviting factitious, partisan battles to take precedence over compromise and progress.

Considering 74 percent of millennials—74!—say they never trust the government to do the right thing, it’s no surprise these politically inexperienced whippersnappers are looking to smash the system by supporting alternative solutions that don’t involve a bloviating xenophobe with a bad combover or his establishment counterpart. 

No one said change would be easy.

Elizabeth Preza is a staff writer for Raw Story. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.

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