Derek Thompson writes: Because Generation Y is the largest generation in American history, it’s a big deal if it remains one of the most liberal generations ever. But there’s a huge, inescapable problem with the viability of Millennial politics today: Young people just don’t vote. Between 1964 and 2012, youth voter turnout in presidential elections has fallen below 50 percent, and Baby Boomers now outvote their children’s generation by a stunning 30 percentage points. Millennials might make a lot of noise between presidential elections, but in November, politicians remember what young people are: All throat and no vote.
The liberal revolution would require more than quadrennial thrills. It would require a sustained focus on filling congressional and Senate seats with liberals so that a left-leaning president can sign bills approved by left-leaning majorities. Instead, this generation hasn’t shown that it can sustain interest in politics through non-presidential elections. Voting among people under 30 in non-presidential elections is hovering around its lowest rate in the last half-century.
A lasting revolution would require even more than that. At a time when the federal government is dragging its feet on every issue, the most significant policy decisions often come at the local and state level. But Republicans control more than half of state legislatures and governor’s mansions, in part because Millennials simply don’t show up to vote. One study found that the median age of voters in mayoral elections is 60.You cannot create a national movement around critical local policies, like higher minimum wages, if city hall is elected exclusively by voters born before Dwight Eisenhower’s reelection. [Continue reading…]