So, what’s next?
After the most recent election this question has been asked a lot but it usually tends to scrutinize the actions of others and then our reactions to what they choose to do or not do. Recently however, I have found that I want to answer this question for myself: I am tired of waiting to react to whatever the future may hold and start speaking into a representational system that doesn’t actually represent me.
You see, the average Congressperson is 57 and the average Senator is 63. While the experiences they base their opinions and platforms off of may be longer than ours, it doesn’t negate the experiences that we have as the Millennial generation and the unique ways in which we are starting to approach the political system.
For example, did you know statistically Millennials are the most pro-gun voting bloc, despite the party they may be affiliated with? One the other side of the coin, we are also the most pro-gun restriction voting bloc. How can this be? Isn’t one of those strictly a Republican platform and the other strictly Democratic? The answer the two-party system would like you to believe is ‘Yes’ but common sense tells us that these ideas do not have to be mutually exclusive, much to the chagrin of the screaming politicos who think they need extreme platforms and hard lines to energize their ‘base.’
Let’s take a side note moment to define ‘base’; In Geometry: ‘the line or surface forming the part of a figure that is most nearly horizontal or on which it is supposed to stand.’ Now let’s consider the statistics of a bell curve. Naturally the ‘majority’ of the data falls within a ‘norm range’ in the middle of the curve. If we then add the political spectrum layered on top, the ‘base’ of each party is comprised of the edges of a bell curve, a small consortium of far-flung ideals that gets great press for being outlandish but does little to encourage and support the ideals of the ‘majority’ in the middle. If the base is to lay the groundwork, allowing the majority to stand, simple math would tell us that this inverted pyramid is not stable, nor an intelligent structure to build upon without expecting failure.
Back to the question (and the true answer): those two platforms, gun-rights and gun-restrictions, are not mutually exclusive and never have been. The reason Millennials can support both in such high numbers is that they challenge the notion that these platforms are in opposition to each other, but rather that they can support each other very cohesively. Left and Right will tell you that cohesion can’t work but Millennials, as America’s largest potential voting bloc, can finally be the ones to bring that change to Washington. We cannot continue to divide the country in two with rhetoric and then wonder why we can’t unite to find progress.
This Millennial viewpoint is unique. The same can be said for almost every other major policy initiative on the national level today but especially for those that more directly affect the Millennial generation: college tuition debt and social security benefits, among others.
Current legislators and politicians run campaigns based on the letter behind their name. This pre-determination of ideals, platforms, stances and policies disallows for the communication and discussion necessary to make progress. As it stands in the current political atmosphere on the Hill, you can’t occupy the same breathing space let alone, say, go to lunch with someone ‘from the other side’ without making waves or being cut off and isolated, usually by ‘your own’ party. The word ‘bipartisan’ has boiled down to a simple buzzword in desperate efforts for Washington to swindle the country into thinking the current team is working together, but they aren’t and they won’t. Because they think the only way they got where they are is based on that letter (and they are probably right), so the only way they can stay there is to hold tight to that letter, which is the biggest killer of ideas and innovation.
We should challenge the idea that a letter will pre-determine and dictate someone’s time in office. We should challenge the idea of representatives telling us what they are going to do, but rather expect that they should be asking those they represent what they want them to do and actually represent (shocking!, I know…). I live in a district that was won 60/40. But if you look at the voting record of the representative, it’s more like 95/5 straight down party lines. Frankly, I don’t blame him. That’s the expectation and the history of the system he works in but it shouldn’t be the future. If a district is 60/40 and there is supposed to be a representative speaking for that district–**and not just for themselves**–shouldn’t the voting record reflect that? His record shows that he is representing a party, not his district.
This blog post will not be filled with empty rhetoric but rather a call to action and a plan. We will not lean right, we will not lean left, but we must lean forward. The Millennial voice, along with many others, is not being heard or represented in our Nation’s highest governing body. Prop 435 is specifically looking for those who will challenge this bureaucracy that we can’t progress with, shed the letter and engage in constructive dialogue. We want 435 independent candidates to run in the next election, 1 in each district of Congress. There are three tenants we want to stand for and those will come in the next two weeks in future blogs, so stay tuned.
Will some of us fail? Absolutely. Is it still worth the time? Absolutely. At a minimum, the conversation will continue. At the optimum, actual change and representation can finally occur. This outcome is inevitable: the current legislators will eventually move on and this generation will see it’s time. But these changes can’t wait. These conversations aren’t meant to be put off and these decisions and choices have to be acted on now. If nothing else was learned from recent elections, we can all see that YOU (anyone) can be elected.
While this topic is bound to stir up some conversation, which we absolutely promote, you will only drive the point home further if you speak in old rhetoric and start ‘yelling at’ instead of ‘talking with’ (and trust me, we’ve already been told we are crazy-you can save the ink, we will not be dissuaded), so use the comments section wisely. I urge you to read the book ‘When Millennials Rule’ by David Cahn and Jack Cahn as it brings forth some great conversation about how both sides stick to their old adages but provides actual tangible ideas that warrant further discussion on major issues facing our country (**notice I said ‘ideas’ and not ‘solutions’-anyone who tells you they have a solution is lying; ‘A’ for effort in persuasion, but ‘D-’ for reality).
Will this be comfortable? Nope. But two ideas that are mutually exclusive: comfort and change.
Kellen Sweny is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.