Millenials Making the Move, Civicly

According to Winograd and Hais, the authors of “Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics,” there has been a major shift in the political sphere. Essentially speaking, their book discusses that the rising generation of Millennials  will change the way we do politics due to the impregnation of social media and new technology as compared to previous generations. The history behind this theory is that  there has been five major political realignments in American history. While each of these huge shifts seems to have been triggered by a crucial event — the great depression or 9/11 to name a couple —  all were actually behaving due to “underlying changes in generational size and attitudes and contemporaneous advances in communication technologies.”

As described in an article by the 2008 review of their book in the New York Times:

There are two types of major realignments that occur in politics. “Idealist” realignments, are when there is a low voter turnout, therefore this generation gears toward negative attitudes toward politics and political institutions and “a focus on divisive social issues involving such concerns as substance use, sexual behavior and socially acceptable roles for women and men”; in the public policy arena “idealist realignments tend to lead to gridlock, limited use of and even decline in the national government and greater economic inequality.” Since the 1968 realignment the Republicans, who had become the party of traditional values, would win 7 of 10 presidential elections.

In contrast “civic” realignments are characterized, by rising voter turnout (or stable turnout at high levels), positive attitudes toward politics and political institutions, and “a focus on broader societal and economic concerns rather than social issues involving personal morality.” As anyone can see, this is certainly the case with today’s younger generations.

Millennials’ reliance on the Internet (technology that the Democrats have learned to exploit more quickly than their Republican opponents) and their passion for texting and instant messaging have political implications as well. In placing a heavy value on the opinion of friends and peers, the authors of this book suggest, Millennials are inclined to favor conclusions reached by decentralized decision making, and multilateral rather than unilateral policy making. Their proclivity for sharing their lives with thousands of others through MySpace and Facebook also makes them “the generation least perturbed by any potential restrictions on civil rights or invasions of privacy that might have occurred in fighting the war on terrorism.” As a more socially tolerant and less divisive Millennial generation becomes a larger part of the electorate, Mr. Winograd and Mr. Hais predict, “the power of social issues to drive our political debate will wane”: wedge issues will lose their effectiveness, and ideological divisions will give way to an emphasis on “successful governmental activism.” “Majorities,” they argue, “will coalesce around ideas that involve the entire group in the solution and downplay the right of individuals to opt out of the process.”

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About digipolitics

Just your average Johns Hopkins University grad student learning how to leverage the online arena to engage potential advocates for issue advocacy campaigns.
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