In Depressing Campaign Season, Millennials Offer Hope

Scott Rasmussen

Scott Rasmussen

Best-Selling Author, Co-Founder of ESPN & Rasmussen Reports, Editor at Large for Ballotpedia

As I’ve watched the 2016 campaign unfold, I’ve come to realize that the Millennial Generation has a better grasp on reality than the nation’s top political journalists. The younger voters recognize that we live in a world where the culture leads and politics lags behind. Journalists, on the other hand, mistakenly cover political campaigns as if the opposite were true.

A few years back, veteran journalist Ron Fournier wrote about this disconnect in a thought-provoking article. He noted that millennials “are fiercely committed to community service.” But, “they don’t see politics or government as a way to improve their communities, their country, or the world.”

Fournier “spent two days at Harvard, and couldn’t find a single student whose career goal is Washington or elective office… To Millennials, the world is filled with injustice and need, but government isn’t the solution. They have apps for that.”


The Millennials I’ve spoken with make it clear that this is not an anti-government attitude, it is simply a matter of pragmatism. They’ve grown up in a world with so many choices that if one path doesn’t work, you try another. If one App doesn’t work, you delete it and download another.

This is a generation willing to rely upon government when it makes sense, but also willing to work around government when it doesn’t.

Fournier was troubled by a generation looking to solve problems outside of government. He called it “Revolutionary, maybe worse.”

For me, this perspective is a reason to be impressed by the Millennials. They recognize that politics often offers little more than the choice between the lesser of two evils. While there is some value in helping the lesser evil win, younger Americans recognize that much more is needed to seriously address the nation’s challenges.

Millennials are aware that we need to devote more of our energies towards serving others in our communities rather than getting caught up fighting petty, partisan political battles. They embrace an all-hands-on-board approach to problem solving that unleashes the creativity and resources of individual Americans, families, community groups, churches, entrepreneurs, small businesses, local governments, and more.

This view is consistent with what professors Sid Milkis and Marc Landy call the “American Creed.” The scholars note that “No other country has a set of key principles and statements to which its citizens adhere to the same degree that Americans adhere to the principles of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’”

At its core, that Creed is a belief that we all have the right to do what we want with our own lives so long as we don’t interfere with the rights of others to do the same. It is an attitude still embraced by the American people today, brimming with optimism about what a free and self-governing people can accomplish. We cherish our freedom but recognize its greatest value can be found when we use that freedom to build community.

By recognizing that politics alone cannot move our nation forward, the Millennial Generation fills me with hope. Sooner or later, the politicians will figure it out as well.


Want to bring Scott to your next event? Let us know here. We'd love to help make it happen! 

In Depressing Campaign Season, Millennials Offer Hope
As I've watched the 2016 campaign unfold, I've come to realize that the Millennial Generation has a better grasp on reality than the nation's top political journalists. The younger voters recognize that we live in a world where the culture leads and politics lags behind. Journalists, on the other hand, mistakenly cover political campaigns as if ...
Read More
Will Trump and Cruz Ever Work Together?
Despite the fact that they are currently bitter opponents, there are a lot of reasons to believe Donald Trump and Ted Cruz could end up working together in the fall campaign. The basic reason is simple, it's in each of their best interests to do so. In fact, we already see examples of pragmatism drawing them together. Both Trump and Cruz ar...
Read More
Turn Ferguson Tragedy Into Change
"Creativity, Inc.," a book by Pixar and Disney Animation President Ed Catmull, is aimed at teaching leaders how to foster collective creativity. Perhaps more precisely, it's about how to remove the structural blockages preventing creativity from expressing itself.Reading that book amidst news from Ferguson, Missouri, I was struck by how many of ...
Read More
Things Will Get Worse Before They Get Better
In 1913, an entrepreneur "said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years."; For that accurate assessment of reality, he was prosecuted for stock fraud. A U.S. District Attorney claimed that, "based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, t...
Read More
The Ability to Walk Away is Key to Empowerment
Politicians like to talk about empowering the middle class or other segments of the voting population, but they're typically a little fuzzy on what empowerment really means. That makes sense when you consider that elections are essentially about politicians asking to get power? rather than share it. The truth is that we all have more power as c...
Read More
Tech Entrepreneurs Have Greater Impact on Nation Than Presidents
The tech industry will have a more lasting impact on America's future than Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama combined. That's not the sense you get from reading the news these days, but journalists and historians always overstate the impact of politicians while underestimating the impact of entrepreneurs. That was true at the founding ...
Read More
Tech Industry Looks Forward, Politicians Look Back
Silicon Valley and the tech industry exude so much optimism it's contagious. There is a desire to solve the planet's most difficult problems and a belief they can do it. On the other coast, official Washington and the political industry are mired in pessimism. Rather than a sense that problems can be solved, the political discussion focuses on ...
Read More
College Education for Everyone is Not The Answer
A recent study estimated that getting a college degree is worth about a half-million dollars over the course of a graduate's lifetime. On the surface, that presents an open-and-shut case that college is worth the time and money involved. That's the conclusion reached in a New York Times column by Dave Leonhardt, who wrote, "Yes, college is worth...
Read More
Let the Market Drive Progress: A Case for Uber Taxi Service
For people who've ever struggled to find a taxi, Uber is great news. If you're in a decent-sized city, download its app, register, and you'll never wait for a taxi again. When you need a ride, all you have to do is pull out your phone, enter your request, and a car will be waiting. The reasonable payments are handled automatically, and the lack...
Read More
Doctors Must Serve Patients, Not Society
When we go to the doctor, most of us expect to receive the best possible advice on whatever ails us. Unfortunately, some medical groups see that as a quaintly archaic notion. Associations are recommending that the doctors should consider more than the patient they are treating. According to The New York Times, these groups want doctors to shift...
Read More