Are Millennials Even More Fed Up With Politics Than Usual? Probably Not.


Yesterday I read this article in the Washington Post:

For millennial voters, the Clinton vs. Trump choice ‘feels like a joke’

In interviews this past week with more than 70 young voters in nine states from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles and careers, it is clear their mood is decidedly different from previous elections. Despite their varied lives, most of those interviewed shared a disgust with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump so intense that it is pushing many beyond disillusionment and toward apathy.

….Though a few people voiced admiration for Clinton, most talked about both her and Trump in searing, caustic words: Super villain. Evil. Chameleon. Racist. Criminal. Egomaniac. Narcissist. Sociopath. Liar. Lying cutthroat. Panderer. Word salad. Willy-nilly. Douche. Joker. Troll. Oompa Loompa. Sad. Absurd. Horrifying. Dishonest. Disgusting. Dangerous. Disaster.

Etc.

My immediate first thought when I read this was: Sure, but is this attitude really any different than in years past? I mean, if you go out and ask people to bitch about politics—which is what these reporters are doing even if they don’t think they are—then they’re going to bitch about politics. I probably would too.

So then: is this just the usual griping? Or is it worse than usual? I was too lazy to look for the polling data, but Eric Boehlert came to my rescue today:

This is just for Florida, and who knows? Maybe Floridians are unusually cheery folks. I doubt it, though. And although Boehlert doesn’t mention this, that 12 percent of millennials who feel less motivated to vote this year is a smaller number than it is for older groups. Everything is close enough, in fact, that you can basically say there’s no difference between millennials and other age groups when it comes to enthusiasm for voting.

We get this every four years. Reporters fan out into “real America” and ask people about politics. And pretty much without exception, every four years people are frustrated, angry, apathetic, and convinced that politicians never do anything for them. Every. Four. Years.

So knock it off, folks. Seriously. I know that reporters like to report, but this kind of stuff is flatly useless unless you can back up your anecdotes with something a little more concrete. At the very least, compare it to 2012. Or 2008. Or 2004. Or better yet, all of those years. If there’s no real difference, then this is your story: “Voters, as usual, claim to be disgusted with politics.” You can put it right up there next to “Worthwhile Canadian initiative.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate