When it comes to participation in our democracy, President Donald J. Trump has been one of the best things to happen to America in recent memory. His election revealed that sitting on the sidelines means helping some of the worst people in this country seize power. No vote is a vote for Trump and his allies, and the trope about young people needing to show up and vote more took a huge blow with these new Census figures. Per The Washington Post:
The Census found that 36 percent of citizens ages 18-29 reported voting in last year’s midterm elections, jumping 16 percentage points since 2014 (when turnout was 20 percent) and easily surpassing any midterm election since the 1980s. Turnout also increased sharply among adults ages 30-44, rising from 36 percent in 2014 to 49 percent in 2018. While turnout among younger adults still lags that of their elders, last year’s election marked a clear break from the past two decades of anemic turnout among the youngest citizens.
Here’s what that jump looks like compared to the rise in all other age groups.
According to Census data, from 2000 to 2016, roughly 20% of citizens aged 18 to 24, and 30% of people between the ages of 25 and 34 voted in midterm elections on average. The story of politics forever and ever is that young people have always lagged behind their elders in voting, and while that dynamic still holds true, the 49% of adults aged 30 to 44 voting in the 2018 midterms is closer to the average presidential turnout than an average midterm turnout. That is a massive change in the status quo. Young people are engaged like they never have been in any of our lifetimes. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The change we are currently witnessing on the left is being driven by the two most diverse, liberal and large generations in American history. Millennials and Gen Z are remarkably more liberal than Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, and this is one of the main reasons why Bernie Sanders is the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. We are simply rejecting the conservative Democratic politics of the 1990s, and demanding that the Democrats return to their roots of being the Party of the Little Guy, as they were in the 1960s and 1930s.
It’s a new day in the Democratic Party, fueled by two new generations. Millennial women are completely done with the Republican Party, and unless this dynamic reverses, it’s difficult to see how the GOP can maintain a national foothold going forward when they’re losing roughly 70% of all votes from half of the (2nd) largest generation in history. There is plenty to be dismayed about in Trump’s America, as our systemic issues are choking the life out of our democracy, but reinforcements have arrived. The political power and activity of Millennials and Generation Z will only increase going forward, which is bad news for the conservative Democrats and Republicans who helped to create the dystopian, corporatist and anti-democratic status quo that gave us President Donald J. Trump.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.