College students and young professionals in the millennial generation appeared on the CA Fwd Radio Show this week to discuss the issues that will bring them back to the polls this year, including education, the economy, and public safety.
Despite traditionally low turnout as a voter bloc, it is expected that Millenials will again, just like in 2008, have a strong impact on this year’s presdiential election.
Millennials were born in the 80’s and early 90’s, and they are now either in college or the early years of their careers.
“Employment is big and preserving the California/American dream is big,” said CA Fwd’s Danielle Williams. “Many people say, ‘I did what I was supposed to do. I went to college, I got my degree. What’s happening?”
SFSU senior Miss Sapphire agreed that jobs are at the forefront for millennials, once they get through the challenging education system.
“A lot of my friends who graduated recently are struggling to find jobs and are moving back home,” she said. “I’m excited to graduate, but I’m nervous to graduate. I don’t want to go home empty-handed and make my college career feel like a waste.”
As for getting millennials involved, SFSU senior Dylan Harper said the key is to connect with what they care about.
“I have a lot of friends who are belligerently apathetic to politics,” he said. “But everybody has an issue that will affect them directly. You just need to find what that issue is for each person. If someone is complaining about their classes getting cut, but then says, ‘Oh, I’m not interested in politics,’ explain how this directly affects what they’re complaining about.”
“For my friends who are not as politically engaged, they always hear me out and say, ‘you’re bringing attention to something I didn’t think about before,’” she said. “One thing those of us who are politically engaged should do is be a sounding board for those who aren’t – and speak to the issues they care about.”
Millennials tend to think more in terms of community than the individual and understand that education, jobs, public safety, and health are all related to each other. Their technological savvy can help cultivate communities in new and innovative ways, especially through social media.
“We have the power to really change the way we can reach out to our audiences, reach a broader following using social media,” Miss Sapphire said.
But, the greatest resources millennials bring to the table are optimism, enthusiasm, and the understanding that change is possible and necessary, said CA Fwd’s Caroline Vance.
“We have optimism that the rules could actually be made better,” she said “There’s a definite lack of trust in government in general… but we can actually change the rules and make better decisions that reflect the values of students and the community.”
“Change is going to be thrust upon us, and it’s going to be us who will have to step up and make that change happen,” Vance said. “It’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Williams said those abilities will help millennials rise above the issues California faces.
“We are the future of California,” Williams said. “The choices being made now are penny-wise and pound-foolish, and we’re going to be living when that pound comes to roost. Bringing awareness to that will hopefully get us energized.”
Listen to the CA Fwd Radio Show every Thursday at 1pm on KSFS.sfsu.edu.
Gina Baleria is a Communications Manager for California Forward.