Millennials Make History with President Obama

Now that the election is over and pollsters are reviewing data, pundits are squeezing another week of news out of the results and weary voting Americans no longer have to hear, see or read another campaign ask or ad—for awhile anyway; this election can be written into history. Not so much for its results but for what it has shown us about who we are.

It will be easy for Barack Obama critics to attribute the success of his campaign to their own failures but I think history will illustrate it was more than that.  He deserves credit for an incredible ground game and a concentrated campaign plan—but he is also only the 6th president to have ever won with 50% of the vote in consecutive campaigns, he joins the distinct company of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.  That he achieved this with high unemployment rates and a struggling economy during wartime makes it even more phenomenal.

But President Obama’s win on Tuesday was not just a victory for Democrats it was a mandate from Americans that we are evolving and becoming a nation of diverse young voices.  It is not politically sacrilegious to invoke John F. Kennedy’s name during this time in our history.  Barack Obama is having a kind of Kennedyesque affect on young people in this country.

The Millennial Generation (young voters 18-30 years old) had an enormous impact on this election.  They were 19% of the electorate, which translates to about 23 million voters. It is speculated that over the next eight years, that number will be closer to 95 million. * Millennials have consistently voted as a pact, unlike Baby Boomers who have been politically split. It is worth noting that two-thirds of Millennials voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 60% of them voted for him again this week. While it seems this group is ethnically and culturally diverse they tend to share a collective political ideology of hope and a belief that they can make a difference. The 60’s spawned a movement of young people who became vocal activists inspired by a new president who was young and charismatic; a First Lady who was not just fashionable but engaged; male Baby Boomers were drafted to Vietnam and college campuses and neighborhoods were fertile ground for the kind of political activism that gave us a generation of progressive leaders.

Today’s’ young people are owning their voices and shaking the politically tree to remind us not to underestimate the power of a group of people who can change the world.

The president’s recent speech to his campaign staff illustrates a Barack Obama who remembers why he was inspired to run for office in the first place and wants to remind this generation that they too have a place in history and they will do “amazing things” in their lives.

Mr. President, we agree.

 

*2012: Another Millennial Triumph–Winograd and Hais