Will millennials be able to fix this broken system?
- Political activism is a double-edged sword capable of sabotaging our better angels
- The political discontent and apathy of many younger Americans are worrisome and disconcerting
- Is the Left ready to extend its arm to African-American, Latino, and Asian American evangelical voters?
Political pundits contend that the emerging influence of party activists has arguably caused the polarization of the political parties in the United States. Furthermore, they claim that party activists were responsible for the current electoral volatility and the undue and, in some cases, unprecedented strain on the political system.
Although political activism keeps our democracy alive, it also damages and distorts the heart and soul of our representative governance. It is a double-edged sword capable of sabotaging our better angels.
Notwithstanding the massive participation of young Americans in the 2008 presidential election in which Democratic candidate Barack Obama was elected president, they were severely disillusioned with the results of the 2016 presidential campaigns, especially when Bernie Sanders failed to win the Democratic nomination.
Have the millennials become apathetic toward representative democracy?
Does this mean that the American political system faces an existential crisis because of the willful nonchalance of disenchanted young Americans?
Are the current and previous generations to be blamed for the present political disengagement?
Have decades of deleterious and, sometimes, pernicious domestic and international policies caused this political and electoral disinterestedness?
It is unfortunate that the millennials see politics as irrelevant and toxic. They see political leaders to be corrupt and selfish. And because they perceive the political system as broken, they are unwilling to enter politics and run for office.
Since polarization motivates certain citizens, particularly older, to vote in elections, it does not necessarily mean that young Americans are equally driven to vote because of the ideological divide.
The political discontent and apathy of many younger Americans are worrisome and disconcerting since they represent the generational demographic that will hopefully attempt to gradually reduce the pernicious and corrupt influence of the political and economic elites.
If this downward trend is to be reversed, a more concerned and engaged younger generation will need to see the communitarian and social purpose of politics and its impact on individuals and society.
Studies repeatedly show that young Americans are committed to improving their communities and the world.
However, it is disheartening that decades of media-driven negativity and partisan polarization have resulted in the current corrosive state of American politics.
It is also true that millennial political engagement can be activated.
The best examples are the 2008 Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and the 2016 Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Let’s not forget that parties are not monolithic entities, but rather collections of individuals with diverse sets of preferences. Sometimes competing visions tear political parties apart and consequently their ability to win elections and shape policies weaken.
Many argue that the realization of republican notions today requires a substantial transformation of economic institutions and practices.
THE RISE OF THE NON-WHITE EVANGELICALS
The political mobilization of another constituency, the non-White evangelicals, could impact the outcome of the next electoral cycle.
Is the Left ready to extend its arm to African-American, Latino, and Asian American evangelical voters?
Surveys indicate that one out of every seven evangelicals in the U.S. is of Asian or Latino origin. Including the African-American evangelicals, non-White evangelicals make up nearly one-third of the evangelical population overall. They make up 15 percent of the U.S. population. Yes, millions of American voters.
Religious voters of color are an untapped and growing constituency.
So far, both Republican and Democratic parties have failed to fully mobilize the diverse members of this faith community.
They consist of a complex set of divergent and competing identities, almost impossible to categorize them, the very group which may help alleviate the rampant partisan polarization.
Neither party, especially the Democratic, should overlook this often-neglected and ever-increasing group of voters. We are ignoring them at our own peril.
WILL UNIONS REGAIN THEIR POWER AND INFLUENCE?
Workers are considered the most legitimate and powerful protectors of free institutions because their collective interests lie in free and independent conditions.
On the other hand, economic and political elites are fundamentally preoccupied with exploiting and oppressing the masses.
This was true centuries ago and it is also true now.
What’s different today is that the exploitation and oppression of the working people are carried out in a more subtle and devious way.
With the much-anticipated Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees coming up soon, an anti-union ruling will probably, but not necessarily, cripple the nation’s largest unions, teachers and etc., as well as other smaller ones.
Eight years ago, support for the unions had fallen below 50 percent. Today, public support for unions is at its highest level in years (60 percent).
More importantly, among Americans under 30, unions’ approval rating is a roaring 76 percent. Furthermore, more than 75 percent of new union members in 2017 were under 35.
Young people’s support for unions is baffling as well as encouraging.
Recent massive mobilizations, from New York to Yerevan (Armenia), were inconceivable without social media. People relied on social media to mobilize. However, organizational structure is also needed to negotiate with the political opponent and make consequential and viable compromises and agreements.
Will the millennials, with their growing pro-union sentiment, increasing militancy, and heightened mobilization capacity, be able to fix the broken American political system and generate hope that representative democracy has a promising future in our society?
Will the non-White evangelicals encourage the much-anticipated effort of the millennials? Will the younger Americans have the public’s confidence and support to make those significant changes?
A French proverb says: “Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait” (If youth knew, if old age could).
The millennials may lack experience, however, I seriously question the wisdom and choices of the older voters and of the ruling political and economic elites…