Why the 2016 Presidential Election Must Be More than a Slogan

January 25th 2015

Liddy Huntsman

It seems like yesterday.  I was sitting in my college apartment with my 4 other roommates watching the 2008 Presidential election.  After strong youth voter turnout, Barack Obama won and the streets in West Philadelphia filled with loud chants and screams, as if we had just won a war. We had just made history by electing the first black president who ran on a philosophy of hope and change. Leading up to the election, those graduating witnessed the most calamitous economic crisis in generations, The Great Recession, while we fought a two-front war. So the only thing America at this point could dream of was hope.  

Right after college in late 2011, I was out campaigning through New Hampshire and Florida and making videos like these for my dad’s Presidential run during the Republican primaries.

Paradoxically, the one thing everyone was noticing about the 2012 election was the lack of millennial excitement compared to the 2008 campaign.  Why was that? Given that millennials' top priority was the economy (people wanted jobs after college, not unpaid internships!), we were faced with a choice between a rock and a hard place. Job creation, especially for young people, remained sluggish, and millennials couldn’t relate to the GOP front-runner because of his archaic positions on social issues and his infamous comments about the 47%. Let’s just say 2012 was a trying and learning year for my dear generation.

Which brings me to the value of coming together.  During his State of the Union speech, President Obama talked a lot about civility and coming together. Civility is disagreeing without being disagreeable and in the end, putting your country before the interests of your party. And whether or not the President makes a great speech, his actions are much stronger. The same goes for the grandstanding members of Congress. Millennials are smarter these days than to fall for platitudes, and we can see through the politics.  

So what are millennials looking for in 2016?  We are a generation looking for problem solvers and strategic leaders. We are tired of division leading to no results. We can’t afford to support an administration and Congress that can’t think long-term about crumbling infrastructure, our broken immigration system, and spiraling health care costs, to name a few key issues.  We are smarter than that these days. After witnessing constant gridlock, domestic division, and geopolitical instability, we are now tempered by the last several years. So for those now running in 2016, change, hope, Benghazi, and binders full of women won’t get you elected this time around.