While defusing Trump’s power through gradually converting a large portion of his 2016 supporters into our allies, how do we engineer true change that puts America back onto a progressive, inclusive track?
A first vital step is driving more voter turnout–at all levels of government, since every elected body in America affects someone’s life in some important manner. Something really frustrating happened in November 2016 (besides the election outcome). Of the more than 200 million Americans who were registered to vote in the general election, only 55 percent actually cast a ballot.
That’s the lowest turnout for a general election in 20 years. Think about it: 45 percent of those who could have voted sat on the sidelines for whatever reason. Maybe they couldn’t get to the polls for pragmatic or nefarious (an upcoming blog post, for sure) reasons. Maybe they didn’t care. Or maybe they were just so frustrated that they didn’t think their vote mattered anyhow.
Within those numbers, 50 percent of registered millennial voters turned out to cast a ballot, similar to 2012. Clinton captured 55 percent of those votes, and Trump garnered 37 percent. In 2012, young adults voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 60 percent to 37 percent.
According to the Brookings Institute: “Looking beyond 2016, the millennial electorate is expected to impact how politics is conducted in a two-party system. In 2016, young adults were more likely to identify as liberals but were less likely to identify as Democrats. Similarly, while young Trump voters were characterized by their energetic support for the Republican candidate, the growth of young people identifying as Republican has remained static. In fact, only one-third of young adults hold a favorable view of the Republican Party.”
Millennials are rapidly moving into positions of responsibly every day in all aspects of work and life. Their impact in future elections will only grow larger, as the Senior and Boomer populations gradually diminish amid the great cycle of life. It’s imperative that all concerned progressives work hard to help educate and motivate these tens of millions of younger Americans to show up at the polls for local, state, and national elections. They are more likely to identify as liberal, as Brookings notes, and that’s no surprise: I work closely with this generation, and they are in general a very open-minded, inclusive, and diverse group of individuals who often create innovative solutions for getting things done. We must help them realize how so many things they care about are in peril due to Trump’s viewpoints and potential policies.
Such education and motivation extends far beyond millennials, of course. There’s millions of GenXers and Boomers who didn’t make it to the polls either in 2016. In general, I’ve noticed that most people are too busy with the “weeds of life” to fully stay up to speed on what’s happening with their government, the economy, and international relations, relying on social medial, sound bites, and gossip from others to form their opinions. A largely distracted populace is one that allows power-hungry individuals to seize power. Amid distraction, disaster can happen. We must cut through the clutter and noise, and help all voting-age (and soon-to-be-voting-age) Americans to realize what’s at stake right now–and to act upon it long before it’s even time to go to the polls (another upcoming blog).
A parallel effort to driving much higher voter turnout is recruiting progressive candidates (yet another upcoming blog) who respect the U.S. Constitution and deeply value an inclusive America. They need to come from all ages, genders, and ethnic religious backgrounds. Those who get elected make the laws, and many of them help to appoint the judges who impact the laws for years to come. It’s that simple. Good people must run for office, and good people must show up to elect them.
Who are these “good people?” In my opinion, they are those who value that inclusive America, one where as many people as possible are invited to participate in the numerous particulars of our cherished quality of life: Residency. Citizenship. Safety. Housing. Employment with fair, pragmatic wages. Health care. Mental health. Voting access. Opportunity unhindered by disabilities. Education. Gender equality. LGBTQ rights. Marriage equality. Reproductive rights. And so forth.
That’s my so-called “litmus test.” Party identification matters little to me at this point; the question for me is, are you helping to include or exclude?
And if you don’t care about people being excluded, you need to…because one day, it might be you on the outside looking in.