You are browsing the archive for Millennials.

Response to Nancy Keenan in Salon: Let’s Set the Record Straight on Millennials and Abortion. Again

12:54 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Nancy Keenan

Written by Julia Reticker-Flynn for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Another day, another article about whether or not Millennials care about access to safe abortion care, this time in the form of an interview with outgoing NARAL President Nancy Keenan in Salon in which the commitment of our generation to this issue is once again questioned.

It is time to put to rest the questioning about Millennials and whether they care about access to safe abortion care. It is time to get to work. Too much is at stake, too much ground has been lost, and, for far too many women, safe and affordable abortion care is out of their reach.

So, let’s set the record straight. Again.

Yes, Millennials care about ensuring access to safe, affordable abortion care. They care — deeply and passionately — and many are working tirelessly on this issue.

This generation of young people is more likely to care about the whole range of sexual health and rights issues than older generations. Whether we are talking about LGBT rights, contraception, or abortion, Millennials are taking center stage, and no one should doubt this or call it into question. This generation may just be the most pro-sexual health generation in U.S. history.

In fact, we find Millennials more supportive of access to abortion services in their communities — 68 percent compared with 58 percent adults overall. And, two thirds (67 percent) of Millennials of color agree that “regardless of how I personally feel about abortion, I believe it should remain legal, and women should be able to get safe abortions.” Three-quarters of African American (75 percent) and Asian Pacific Islanders (75 percent) young adults agree with the statement. Six in ten (59 percent) Latinos express support for legal abortion in response this question. 

But even more important, Millennials are showing up on the front lines of this issue.   

Millennials like Carly who did not stand by when anti-choice activists came to her campus but instead was motivated to build a strong base of support for abortion access at the University of Michigan. Carly has started facilitating small group sessions focused on discussing personal experiences with abortion and the ways to address stigma and promote access to safe abortion care. Millennials like Tyler and Eriauna at the University of Kentucky who are standing outside their local clinic every Saturday to ensure people can access services without fear or intimidation.   

Millennials like Delilah and Jess at the University of Virginia who talk to their peers in the center of campus holding signs that read “1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime, these are our stories.”  

From campus activists to clinic escorts to hotline volunteers to directors of abortion funds to doulas to bloggers to policy advocates, Millennials are fearless, bold and innovative activists in support of abortion care.  We should not be ignored, and our commitment to abortion access should not be questioned.  

The work of Millennials — and in fact of the entire movement — will continue to be strengthened if we spend less time asking where they are and more time continuing to train young people in grassroots organizing, to mentor new leaders, to fund their work, and most importantly to respect and value their skills, energy, and leadership.   

Let’s get to work.

Read the rest of this entry →

ELECTION 2012: Millennials Are Bringing It. Democrats Ignore Them At Their Peril

1:48 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sarah Burris for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This week, young people proved once again that they are a powerful force for political change. For example, 18- to 30-year-olds made up the largest margin of support for President Barack Obama in four key swing states, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, according to data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Engagement (CIRCLE).

For weeks we heard from pundits and Republican operatives that the Romney campaign was going after young voters. Certainly Karl Rove’s organization Crossroads Generation coordinated significant outreach to young people, and the Romney campaign never conceded the President’s popularity with the Millennial Generation. But, once more, young voters came home to democratic candidates and progressive ideologies and did so in significant numbers.

CIRCLE is reporting that 22 to 23 million young voters voted. That’s half of the entire 18- to 30-year-old demographic! Moreover, young voters made up a higher share (19 percent) of the overall electorate this year than did voters over 65 years of age (16 percent). What else can we expect from the largest generation in history?

But to create a solid generation of Millennial progressives, Democrats need to take two critical steps. First, Democrats need to include Millennials in developing and supporting progressive policies. And second, need to dramatically improve efforts to meaningfully engage young adults in building grassroots political strength and leadership, far beyond the current paradigm.

One of the great political failures of the Obama Administration’s first term was in not effectively communicating either the President’s policy agenda or his successes to the electorate. The President himself said in a speech at the University of Virginia last spring that he should have talked to the American people a lot more about what he was doing when he was doing it. For example, after a number of members of Congress stuck their collective necks out to support passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the President did little to stop the Tea Party’s Summer of 2009 misinformation and intimidation campaign, which devoured moderate Republican and Democratic members across the country.

The only demographic group that fully supported the ACA was the Millennial Generation. Yet at no point were young people brought in by the White House to help evangelize this policy to peers and parents. And the Administration never enlisted young people around the country in supporting the members of Congress who helped ensure passage of the ACA. In 2010, youth voted in similar numbers to 2006, but it wasn’t nearly the extent to which they vote in Presidential races. That mixed with a conservative electorate resulted in the Tea Party Caucus. That could have been avoided with proper outreach.

The lesson here is to learn from the mistakes of 2010 by not allowing this to happen again in 2014. The White House must communicate to young people about issues beyond just education. Yes, college affordability is critically important, but we are more than a single issue voting bloc and some of us have moved beyond college. Young adults have a huge stake in veterans affairs since those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are our peers. We care about small businesses because we are entrepreneurial and eager to take our ideas to the market place. We care about family planning, because as it turns out babies are expensive, and when you’re first starting out it’s difficult to afford to start a family too, and some of us want to delay childbearing to first achieve other life goals.

Every policy discussion must include a young person at the table, because our perspective is one that is rarely offered by Beltway insiders. But much more than that, the President must leave Washington and come to us. Not at another public university campus, but at community colleges and trade schools or even creative tech companies outside of Silicon Valley.

The second problem is a political one. The Republican Party is making a play for the heart and soul of young voters because they recognize the power we hold over the long term. Whether it’s Karl Rove or the Pete Peterson Foundation investing in persuading young people to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, conservatives are spending a lot of partisan- and issues-based money to connect with young people. Democrats are not doing these things. A lot of Democratic money goes toward non-partisan youth voter registration efforts, and even more money is spent on developing a broad understanding of “civic engagement” efforts, and on go-nowhere white papers that college students can research and present in an academic setting. These things don’t move votes. They don’t decide issues. They don’t elect Democrats to office.

Ignoring the power of the Millennial Generation and its potential in electing democrats and progressives to office is like ignoring a piece of my momma’s chocolate cream pie at Thanksgiving. It’s a big mistake. The more young voters are ignored, the more Democrats will end up having to compromise principles and values to garner conservative votes. Think about what that does to our policy.

And know this: It doesn’t have to be that way.

When It Comes to Civic Engagement, Young People Know Better Than to Hit It and Quit It on Election Day!

7:23 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

042/366 a

Vote button

Written by Andrew Jenkins for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

After months of political ads, voter registration drives, presidential debates, and the circus that is an election cycle, we’re finally approaching the big day. And although this is a new year and a new election, some things never seem to change. Erroneous claims of voter apathy. Widespread fear that young people won’t show up to the polls. The ‘knight in shining armor’ complex masqueraded as a legitimate way to engage Millennials. But don’t sweat it. Because while everyone else continues to treat us as a politically expedient resource to be tapped into, dried up, and dumped when our usefulness is gone, young people will be doing the real work.

We’ll be doing the work that matters.

While everyone else is analyzing polls and auctioning tired theories about our propensity to vote, we’ll be talking about the issues that are relevant to our lived experiences and ultimately the well-being of our generation. While political pundits and campaign talking heads continue to avoid the issues that matter most to Millennials, we’ll be centralizing them and leveraging a message that actually inspires young people to get out and vote.

Most importantly, we’ll be engaging our peers because we have a vested interest in building the collective power of our generation. No ulterior motives. No strings attached. And in a parasitic political culture that values young people solely for their short-term utility in swinging elections, intentions matter, and it’s imperative that we lead the charge in mobilizing our generation. The key to unlocking the youth vote will not be found in hollow rhetoric, after-thoughts, or short-term investments. And it certainly won’t be found in pejorative tropes about young people.

In fact, they make matters worse. When we buy into the notion that Millennials are apathetic, self-absorbed, and disengaged, we’re doing the status quo a favor. We’re alienating young people. And despite the political expedience that comes with blaming youth voter turn-out for every problem ever, power structures actually rely on this false narrative to make us feel powerless and ultimately drive young people away from the political process altogether.

The false narrative of youth apathy is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The key to unlocking the youth vote is prioritizing our issues, centralizing our voices, and strategically investing in our generation before, during, and after the election.

Make no doubt about it. Young people are watching, and we’ll be voting in this election.

You see, we’re voting in this election because we care about the future of our country and we’re eager to play a role in shaping that future. Some of us are voting for the environment and education. Some of us are voting for reproductive rights and marriage equality. The issues that carry us to the polls may vary, but it is our steadfast commitment to change — to progress — that inspires us to show up and vote. And we do it — time and time again — even in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Even when the odds are stacked up against us, we fight back. Sound apathetic to you?

Read the rest of this entry →