The Youth Vote

default article imageCollege campuses are often disparaged as “too liberal.” However, the editors agree that colleges are a place where students begin to explore and discover new ideas and political identities. One editor said that young people in college are generally more passionate about issues surrounding justice and equality; topics which are often associated with left of center political views. Another editor said, “just because a college gives a liberal education, that does not mean that they also [enforce] liberal political views.”

Many of the editors agree that here at Monmouth, the political spectrum is well represented. From students who are more conservative to those who are more progressive, and everything in between; Monmouth University fosters a myriad of political preferences. However, one editor argued, “At Monmouth, I feel we lean to be conservative, at least for the students because of the price of Monmouth which usually attracts the wealthier people, who tend to be more conservative.” Additionally, although students at Monmouth respect each other’s politics, the opportunity to express one’s political views are not reciprocated by one’s willingness to listen to political views other than his/her own, one editor noted.

According to data from the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement, only 21.3 percent of millennials voted in the most recent midterm elections in 2014. Additionally, the Center for American Progress found that in the 2012 general elections, there were 64 million eligible millennial voters;  however, only 26 percent actually voted. This left the editors to question why young voters have such apathy toward politics. One editor said, that many young people believe that their votes don’t count for much; “but that’s only the case if they haven’t attempted to influence their state government and worked from the ground up.” Nevertheless, most of the editors said that they have voted in every election since they turned 18—many of who are even registered with a party affiliation in order to vote in New Jersey’s closed primary elections. One editor said that they are very passionate about voting in their local elections because they want the water in their hometown to be clean; therefore, the editor votes for candidates whom they believes will pass policies to do so. “I think voting is very important and every vote matters,” another editor said. “I believe that if you don’t vote for someone, then you don’t have the right to complain about policies.” One editor noted that a lot of young people may not vote in mid-term elections or local elections because they do not know a lot about the candidates—as opposed to presidential candidates who are campaigning nation-wide. Conversely, an editor said that the 2016 election was their first time voting. “It was a really cool experience because I felt I had done my duty as an American,” she said. “As a female, even though we have come such a long way, I think about the women who fought long and hard for the right to vote; and I want to make them proud and make sure their efforts weren’t in vain.”

Many young people also believe that politicians simply do not voice their concerns, or capture their interests. As a result, many young voters refrain from voting. However, many of the editors said that they believe Bernie Sanders galvanized a lot of young voters because he promoted policies such as legalized marijuana and “free” college tuition. Contrariwise, one editor said that Hillary Clinton was disadvantaged by the media, which often portrayed Clinton as unrelatable to young voters. Another editor said that many politicians often flip-flop on their political stances, and that many young people might find it difficult to endorse them if they are receiving donations from big corporations and “Big Oil.” Likewise, another editor said that many politicians often ignore young voters in order to patronize their largest voting base instead. Moreover, one editor said that in order for a candidate to be favorable, he/she should have “a strong social media presence, a sense of humor, and an interest in issues that young people care about, such as the student debt crisis are all factors that can play a role in favorability.”

Many editors suggested that the ubiquitous two-party system in American politics is discouraging to young people. “I am not satisfied with the two party system,” one editor said. “I absolutely think third parties should be taken more seriously. Our election process is broken and corrupt,” she added. “The more running the merrier, just like business. Competition between businesses is always favorable for the consumer.” Likewise, another editor said that they believe allowing third parties to run alongside Democrats and Republicans, then the representation of more political opinions would be facilitated. Additionally, one editor said that many voters vote for party rather than policy. Therefore, the editor believes the established two-party system contributes to this partisanship.

One study done by the U.S. Hispanic Heritage Foundation found that Generation Z is more conservative than Millennials are. Contributing to this estimation is the era in which Generation Z grew up. Living through the 2008 Great Recession attributes to the generations fiscal conservatism, and living in a post 9/11 era suggests their favorability of increased national security and militarization. One editor suggests that this inclination for conservatism is a result of parental influence. Another editor said, “I know that I listen to my parents views, but I think that I also have varying opinions on certain topics.” Additionally, one editor said that, although they does not consider themselves to be conservative, they nevertheless favor a strong, central military and increased national security. Likewise, another editor said that they have noticed a push for less government intervention from friends their own age. However, many editors agree that to generalize the entire generation is unfair because there are so many differing opinions. One editor, in particular, said that too many people focus on “the black and white,” and they often neglect “the grey area.”