Having Our Say: Millennials and The 2016 Presidential Race

Rebekah Lee, Associate Editor of Student Publication, English, ’18

In November of 2016, the future of America will be placed in the voting population’s hands. As of now, half of the voting population is made up of Generation Y, or “Millennials” as some call them, and they have had more say during this election process than in the past. After all, there has been a wide variety of diverse and persuasive candidates. From Senator Bernie Sanders’ position on government-funded higher education to Donald Trump calling for a reawakening of American pride and greatness to Hillary Clinton’s position on women’s choice issues. This election lacks  nothing  in terms of Millennial interest and the variety of changes in direction the country can take with “just one” vote.

Where do Millennials stand in the political race on terms of voice and what makes the current leading candidates appealing to our generation? According to The Atlantic writer, Derek Thompson, “They sense that they are both America’s impoverished generation and its moral guardians—absent on the payroll, but present at the the revolution.”

The three leading candidates of this presidential race have their own agendas and are not only attracting attention from older generations, but most of them are campaigning specifically towards Millennials. Senator Bernie Sanders not only caters his campaign towards our generation, but his actions line up with his style. Sanders plans to make public colleges and universities a government-funded experience to help eliminate the burden of student loans. This, of course, appeals to Millennials in their fight to combat costly higher education.

Sanders’ campaign also works with a lot of social media marketing that appeals to Generation Y’s technological personality. Sanders certainly maintains a big number of Millennial voters, with numbers of supporters rising everyday on college campuses across the country. He addresses Generation Y not as a lazy, irresponsible generation, but as the intelligent, future guardians and driving force of the country whose concerns for the future are valid and valued.

Republican candidate Donald Trump comes from a different spectrum of the race than Senator Sanders. While Sanders speaks to Millennials about how it’s okay to receive help, Trump’s campaign revolves around the idea that America needs to pull up her britches and get to work. Trump reels in the right-wing Millennials who wish to see the America  their great-grandparents experienced. While some are offended by Trump’s uncensored comments, others are enamored by his candor. As off the beat as Mr. Trump can seem, he appeals to some as honest and goes against the run-of-the-mill seasoned senator running for office. Trump is different and to some, that makes his campaign special. They’re tired of being lied to by senators looking for a vote. To this specific group of his Millennial supporters, Trump speaks for the underdogs and the working class of America.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has drawn a lot of attention not just from the presidential race, but from the public in general. As the leading candidate for the Democratic party and a woman, Clinton appeals primarily to Millennial women who wish to finally see a woman in the White House. Clinton’s views on women’s rights issues and early childhood education are particularly important to some young women voters. Clinton resonates with women of our generation who simply don’t feel as though their voice is being heard.


Generation Y’s main concerns revolve around fairness and going against the traditional American politics that have been used in the past. They want riots, they want revolutions, but are they willing to fight for it? Voting was a right that Americans fought for, but are Millennials upholding their responsibility in regards to actively putting in their say in the polls? Out of all of the generations, Millennials are represented the least at the polls, regardless of how much they say they support their candidate. Derek Thompson states, “Young people treat electoral politics the way they treat Hollywood movies: They only show up for the blockbusters. But the math of democracy is unyielding. If you want a revolution, you have to vote for it. Not just every four years. Not just for cool candidates. Not just for political outsiders unsullied by the soot of experience.”

A Millennial’s typical reasons for not voting lie along the lines of not feeling their vote counts, not knowing who to vote for, or a general lack of knowledge of the voting system. As a generation that wants to actively fight for change, the leading candidates are all excellent voices for an awakening of American politics. We, as a generation, need to be willing to educate ourselves and fight for the best possible outcome this November.

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