What made you interested in politics? And, are the majority of your millennial friends politically informed and active?
Paul Bremmer – Wash D.C., St. Bonaventure University 2012 Graduate, Bio – I first became interested in politics during my senior year of high school. It was the fall of 2007, and the race for the 2008 presidential nomination in both parties was well underway. I was taking Advanced Placement U.S. Government, and my teacher gave us an assignment to be completed every week of the semester: find a news story about the presidential primary races and write a brief summary on it.
I had never paid close attention to politics before, but in the course of doing that assignment, I became hooked on the primaries. I learned a lot about where the candidates stood on various issues and what they were saying on the campaign trail. I also became fascinated by the horse race aspect of politics – polling and the battle for delegates. The thought of change also excited me. Even though I never disliked George W. Bush, it was exciting to know that this race would eventually leave us with a new president, no matter what.
After a few weeks of reading about the races, I started watching primary debates to actually see the action unfold. This made me even more interested. When my teacher retired halfway through the school year, we no longer had to do that weekly assignment, but I continued to follow the primaries anyway. By that point, I had invested enough time and attention to care about the outcome.
Once John McCain and Barack Obama won the nominations, I followed the general election closely as well. I also began to read political books. In 2008 and 2009, I read books by Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, and Al Gore. I began to develop a political philosophy of my own.
When the general election was finally over, I continued to keep up with political news. I had left my perch of disinterest forever. Now I always follow the news out of Washington, and I get excited when federal election season rolls around every two years.
Some of my millennial friends share my interest in politics, while others do not. Almost all of the friends I’ve met since I moved to Washington, D.C. have been politically informed and active. That’s just the nature of this area.
As for my high school and college friends from western New York, it’s a mixed bag. I think a lot of them were certainly aware of what was going on in the political world, but they were not necessarily political junkies. Even among those who were informed, I wouldn’t classify any of them as active.
Many older people throw up their hands and moan America is doomed, because the millennial generation is too lazy and indifferent. After living in Washington for a couple of years and getting to know lots of fellow millennials down here, I don’t think that’s true at all. Plenty of us are politically informed and active, and our generation should produce some great national leaders down the road.
Arianna Mendez – FL, Florida International University 2014 Masters Degree, Bio – We are the sum total of our experiences. We are shaped by those memories regardless if they are good, bad, or indifferent. Those experiences shape our aspirations, logic, and even our political identity. Such is the case with me. I am the daughter of exiles.
Like millions of other Cuban refugees, my parents fled to the United States trying to escape a totalitarian and oppressive regime that violated the human rights of its citizenry. I was born in Burbank, California, 14 years after they had escaped Castro’s Cuba, but their consternation and painful memories of violent political persecution and repression was the subject of discussion at every family dinner.
My parents encouraged me to be informed and be civically engaged, because they warned that an uneducated citizen is an impressionable citizen. At the age of 10, I read a biography on Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And, so began my love for conservative politics.
In school, I took pride in being the only conservative voice on campus, and I did my best to be a part of the decision making process. Since the age of 15, I have been volunteering for conservative political campaigns and causes. As president of the Political Science Club at my alma mater, I aspired to educate and inspire disenfranchised students that ignored or were unfamiliar with the political process to become more civically engaged.
Unfortunately, the majority of millennials are not politically informed or active. According to a Harvard University Institute of Politics poll, fewer than 1 in 4 millennials plan to vote in this year’s midterm elections. Most millennials are disillusioned by the political process and have decided not to participate.
Millennials don’t seem motivated to be politically active. Only time will tell whether the lack of political sophistication and participation among millennials will change over time as it did for past generations.
Pete Vujovich – MN, University of Minnesota 2011 Graduate, Bio – I became interested in politics at a very young age. Growing up, my dad was a school board member. But I did not really become engaged until the advent of the Iraq War. At the time I had many concerns about the war, but I remember sitting in my kitchen watching Paul Wellstone’s speech on the Senate floor.
Over the next few years I tried to find as many ways to get involved as possible, keep in mind I was only 12 years old during this, so the opportunities to participate were few and far between.
I would also say the majority of my friends are politically informed, but they are not necessarily active. Millennials don’t get enough credit for how much they actually pay attention to the world around them and how much they really do want to change the world for the better. While I haven’t spent much time outside of Minnesota, I think this is generally true for people on both sides of the aisle.
Shigufa Saleheen – CA, University of California Student, Bio -Before politics, I used to be more interested in writing. From a young age, I would write short stories and fictitious tales. As I grew older, I wanted to find a new topic to tackle and explore through writing. This was along the same time I began taking AP U.S History in high school. And, what merely started out as book learning turned into discussions in class and curiosity outside of it.
I was lucky to be surrounded by intelligent people who may not have always shared my views but would converse with me about thoughts and ideas. This led me to form my own opinions and write in my high school newspaper about my take on issues.
The majority of my friends are politically informed and as active as they can be, and I do believe it’s with their influence and the conversation we’re able to have that I’ve become as active in politics myself as I am today.
Nana Osei – SC, College of Charleston Student, Bio – Politics have always played a significant part in my life. Because of my international background, viewing how one culture decides on a political issues compared to another always intrigued me. From a young age I understood politics can affect a large number of persons. It was the ideal way to change and better a community, more specifically my community.
Along with these factors, my father decided to alter professions from law to politics when I was close to eight years old. He told me in the simplest way, so I could understand why he was going into politics in Ghana. I admired it and wanted to gain more knowledge in the field, because I knew from a young age I would want to help him.
Although I am extremely interested in politics, I would say the majority of my millennial friends are not politically informed but are politically active. My friends are active as they do see the importance of voting and the majority does take part in voting. However being politically informed at a high level is not taken as seriously.
As with many American’s, people are strongly associated with a particular party and will only listen to their parties’ point of view on issues. This normally leads to their views on issues to be single minded and to only listen to political issues that favor them.
The majority of my millennial friends only become informed with political issues when it is election time. They are only concerned with breaking news during the other parts of year. Getting informed is extremely important, although it isn’t viewed as critical to the majority of my generation until voting season.
Jordan Hibbs – AZ, Barrett Honor College at Arizona State University 2014 Graduate, Pursuing Masters Degree, Bio – The famous quote by America’s thirty‐fifth president, John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” well embodies and supports my inspiration for being interested in public service, public policy, and politics.
When I was younger, my family faced serious poverty and went through a period of time of being homeless. Through support from the community and assistance from the government, we were able to overcome those obstacles and progress to where we are today.
The systems that govern our society and the members involved in the networks have always been of particular interest to me. I majored in psychology to study how these systems interact with one another and how they are involved in the everyday lives of people.
I believe public service reaches beyond a responsibility to the current community. There is a growing obligation to ensure current plans, investments, and actions do not harm future generations.
As a society, we need to genuinely embrace a model of sustainability in which environmental stewardship, fiscal responsibility, and social awareness are equally important. Over time I have discovered I wanted to take a more proactive role in helping people, which led to my interest in public policy.
Now I am studying science and technology policy at Arizona State University and continue to be interested and engaged in public policy and politics.
I have many millennial friends that are politically informed and active, but I also have a lot of millennial friends that are not as informed. Rather than being directly involved in politics, many of my friends are involved in causes at the local and global level.
Lana Lake – MT, Montana State University 2014 Graduate, Bio –
Photo Credit – stockimages