Change Has Come, But is it Enough?

Published: November 13, 2008

The ballots have been counted and the verdict is in: Barack Obama will be our next president. But something else happened last week. We, the people of the United States, finally broke the long history of apathy we have become known for. We volunteered, showed up at the polls in record numbers, then waited anxiously for the results. Some were elated, others decidedly not. But however we felt about the election results, we must acknowledge the shift in voter participation and the potential implications for the country in the future.

Voter turnout was higher among voters aged 18-29 than any other group. In short, we did it. Bask in it, Millennial Generation. We have done what so many before us could not. Our elders have lamented our revealing clothing, rap music and addiction to electronics. From civil rights to feminism, our parents and grandparents did a lot before we came around. But despite the changes they made and inspired, the government of this melting pot nation was always dominated by rich white men. That is, until now. We have already done more than was ever expected of us.

Did all Millennials vote for Obama? Well, no, though the majority of us did (68 percent, claims the New York Times). In truth, that’s beside the point. Because those who did not vote for him were still part of an election season that transcended the hypocritical racial divides in the country of “liberty and justice for all.”

Congratulations, Millennials, you’ve just swung an election. But don’t turn your iPods back on just yet.

The Internet, that “series of tubes” that so many of our parents and grandparents just can’t get the hang of, was what transformed this election. We are savvy bloggers and multitaskers, so let’s apply these skills. Our country is stuck between a rock called the economy and a hard place called two wars. We already know that we as a bloc can affect change. Let’s keep this energy going. Let us scrutinize the problems that face the country and start trying to change them from the ground up. Obama’s campaign was momentous in that it was won with a grassroots movement unlike any we have seen before.

Despite this historical milestone, we are not post-racism or post-intolerance. The passage of Proposition 8 in California and similar legislation in Florida and Arizona make that quite clear. While there is still much work to be done, we must still acknowledge this moment in history. The election of a mixed-race president means a lot to us, but people our age cannot begin to fathom what it means to the generations ahead of us. We are lucky in that we could conceive of this day coming. Others could not.