The Millennial Generation has become a huge focus of political discussion lately. People keep saying how they will be the ones to “save us all,” to get Washington back on track and solve our country’s most controversial issues. This generation is learning how to cope with crises like the Great Recession while growing and progressing alongside innovative technologies and new ideas. As a Millennial I feel empowered, yet a little overwhelmed. We’re expected to pick up the slack of the gridlocked political system and disparate social issues left over from previous generations. It will be a challenging task to fix these political stalemates that started decades ago, to say the least.
The extreme polarity seen in today’s Congress began with the 104th Congress back in 1995, when the Baby Boomer generation first gained the majority in the House. Just prior to that, we saw legislators from both parties voting the same way on various issues. As time progressed, we rarely see our political officials from separate parties voting together on anything. Unfortunately for us Millennials, it is supposedly going to be a while before we can influence this.
According to research by First Person Politics, a generation won’t take its first seat in Congress until about the age of 30, let alone have a significant impact on key issues until age 44, all before taking the majority at age 53. By these numbers, this means that Millennials will not begin to seriously influence debates until the late 2020s, and our generations’ politics and priorities will not be prominent in the House and Senate until the late 2030s and early 2040s. While there is some truth to the statistics, I don’t believe our generation is about to wait 20 to 30 years to make our voices heard in Congress. In fact, we’re already doing so.
Over the last few months, we’ve seen key legislative changes on issues that are critical to our generation. States are one by one legalizing same-sex marriage, marijuana is being legalized for medicinal and recreational use in various cities and states around the country, and up for current debate in the Senate are abortion and reproductive rights. Each of these issues are issues that Millennials have petitioned, marched and voted for, issues that we aren’t going to wait decades to change. We will have our turn in the House and Senate when the time comes, but until then, we will keep influencing change in the ways we know how.