We’ve all heard the term ‘millennial’, and most of us have seen the cover of Time and read the media’s view of the ‘typical millennial’. Bernie Sanders touted the support of this group as he created what really was a political movement in the primaries. Recently, I’ve noticed an uptick in articles about our place in the 2016 election and the change it’s brought to the way people look at our generation. If you are following the polls, Hillary and Trump are the typical presidential frontrunners. If you are reading the fine print about how most of the polls are conducted, however, you’ll see that there’s a missing demographic.
I don’t know about you, but the last time I used a home phone, I was talking to my high school sweetheart. I had to hang up that phone in order to get online and chat with him too. I asked a few of my friends if they had a home phone while discussing the polls the other day and it was no surprise to me that if they didn’t live at home with their parents, no, they didn’t bother with a home phone line. I can’t help but notice that the majority of the polls that the media is using are based on the results of an outdated polling platform: the home phone line.
Why does this matter? Well, millennials make up approximately a quarter to a third of eligible voters, we are 18-35 year olds, and we aren’t contributing to the majority of poll numbers. Bernie Sanders filled stadiums, but he didn’t win the primary, and his social media presence was and still is engaging a big portion of millennial voters. Time and time again he earned more votes than expected, and eventually the media began to turn to alternative polls to gauge the Democratic primary. It hasn’t been long since those alternative polls proved more accurate, and yet, here they are again, back to gauging by the land line polls. Gary Johnson polls much higher in online polls and I think the presence of the silent majority is a huge factor in that.
The Libertarian candidate shares some positions with Bernie that the two major parties have all but ignored; one of them being an aversion to foreign wars for the purpose of regime change.
Military intervention in the Middle East has been a constant throughout my lifetime. That same high school sweetheart I used to talk on the land line phone with enlisted in the Navy after school. His decision was based on the September 11th attacks and the promise of free college in exchange for a few years of his life. Looking back, maybe he made the right choice, since college debt is one of the biggest complaints of our generation, but it took him 12 years to achieve a degree. Another dear friend, just honorably discharged from the Army after multiple tours in Iraq, and other areas of the Middle East as well as some time serving in Cuba, even he knows that all the years he’s put into those regions and all the lives lost have not fundamentally improved the lives of people in those places. Also, they want to kill us more than ever now, so there’s that too.
Gary Johnson understands that there is a time and place for intervention, and more importantly, there is a time to stay out of foreign affairs. At least two people I know agree with him and I for one think their lives are more important than our interests in the region. Last I checked, there are no home phone lines on aircraft carriers or on the Army bases in foreign regions. Democrats abroad overwhelmingly supported Sanders in the primaries and I think it’s a good bet that many will support Gary Johnson if he has a place on the national debate stage.
On a higher note, let’s look at Bernie’s support in places like Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, where Bernie, my favorite gauge of massive millennial voting bodies, beat Clinton by some hefty margins, and what they all have in common. These four states have legalized marijuana.
Gary Johnson, unlike former President Bill Clinton, isn’t saying things like ‘I didn’t inhale’, but he has said that it’s been a while since he partook of edible marijuana. He makes no apologies for enjoying edibles, and even puts his money where his mouth is by investing in the industry. The numbers vary widely, but overwhelmingly support that the majority of Americans are for the decriminalization of marijuana, at least for medical use.
I don’t think Hillary will flip on this. She says that she supports rescheduling and research, but has dodged taking a stance in favor of it and as a politician, it’s a good sign she is not going to push for legalization of medical or recreational marijuana use. Donald Trump has said that he supports medical marijuana “100%”, but he has been wishy-washy on recreational use.
While many millennials don’t smoke it, the vast majority support its medicinal use, and the freedom of the individual to make that choice just as they would choose whether to have a stiff drink after writing that check for their student loan payment.
These are our issues as millennials, but more importantly, these are issues where our voice is unlikely to be represented in traditional polls. I know that as a demographic we are hard to predict, and our views are not always the same, even within a small circle of friends, but at the end of the day I think we are all craving an outsider, something fresh, and if Gary Johnson makes it to the debates, he will feel the momentum of the silent majority of millennials in November
* Lauren LaCount is a ‘millennial’, a mom, wife, a small business owner, community volunteer, animal activist, and most recently a city council representative. In her free time she tries her best to encourage critical and common sense thinking and participation in local governance.