Millennials strive to educate their generation on political issues

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An American flag flies over East 4th Street in downtown Cleveland during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, July 19, 2016. 

Alex Delaney-Gesing

From downtown Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena to Public Square, people of all demographics at the Republican National Convention had an opinion regarding where the nation’s future should go this November.

As the largest generation in today’s society, the Millennial population is a demographic that will have a significant impact on Election Day.

Two college students took to the streets of downtown Cleveland to spread the word and encourage citizens to vote.

Madeline Aerni and Andrew Davidson, recently recruited employees of Change Politics—a nonpartisan branding platform intent on educating voters on their local, state and national politicians—offered people a chance to learn more about their local politicians.

“What we’re planning is to get people who actually know exactly who they’re supporting for when they vote and making sure they just don’t leave the ballot blank,” said Davidson, a sophomore political science major at Portland State College.

Both Aerni and Davidson joined Change Politics because they believe everyone—young and experienced voters alike—should be aware of not just the nation’s politics, but also the issues within their local community.

“I wanted to be able to have my own, educated vote not based on someone else’s,” said Aerni, a senior electronic media and communication major at University of Cincinnati. “That’s something that I really want to develop (with) myself.”

Online company Change Politics gives users the opportunity to learn about local politicians running for office, as well as become more educated on their views regarding issues in the area. 

“It would be really great if people our age could start using this because we’re already online so much as it is,” Aerni said.

But while the two Millennials are actively encouraging others to familiarize themselves with local issues and politicians, their own thoughts on the issues of the presidential election remain largely uncertain.

“I feel like the biggest problem is a mistrust with our government,” Aerni said. “That’s the issue with the candidates: We don’t really know how to trust them.

Similarly, Davidson said that the concern voters—specifically Millennials—have with this election’s candidates involves the “underlying issues.”

“There’s that lack of trust, common decency and honesty that’s missing,” he said.

However, Davidson is hopeful of the influence his generation can have on the election’s outcome, as evidenced by the overwhelming majority of young voters who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, he said.

“What we saw with that—where Millennials really came out to support the campaign—I think it was a true testament of what our generation can do when we choose to,” he said. “I think that’s the issue with local (and national) politics; a lot of times we choose not to be active.” 

Contact Alex Delaney-Gesing at [email protected]