Like most political junkies, I was on the edge of my seat watching the results during the night of the Brexit vote. It soon became apparent that Britain was going to leave the European Union. I wasn’t surprised by the result, but it was interesting to watch the reactions across the United Kingdom. From the shocked news anchors to the resignation of David Cameron, the Brexit victory rattled the western world. I found it extremely interesting how divided the UK was over this result. Brexit divided the UK geographically, with the majority of Scotland, North Ireland, and London voting to remain. The vote also divided the country demographically. Older voters and working class voters turned out in droves and sided heavily with the Leave camp. On the other hand, Millennials, the group who will feel the impact of Brexit the longest, voted to remain.
Despite the fact that 73% of 18-24-year-olds voted to remain, the Leave vote still prevailed. This left many young people distraught about their future. Twitter exploded with expressions of anger and fear. Adam Newman of Bristol said, “I’m so angry. A generation given everything: Free education, golden pensions, social mobility have voted to strip my generation’s future.” Chai Cameron said, “I’m scared. Jokes aside I’m actually scared. Today an older generation has voted to ruin the future for the younger generation. I’m scared.” In the Brexit vote, millennials believed they had their future decided for them by the baby boomer generation. In reality, when young people decided not to vote they gave up their opportunity to choose their own path.
According to one poll, only 36% of 18-24-year-olds turned out to vote in the EU referendum, while 81% of 55-64-year-olds voted. By deciding to sit out the referendum, millennials lost their voice and lost their say in their future. Now, young people have realized that elections have real, tangible impacts on their lives. Many millennials have signed petitions to have another referendum, only to have the government say that they did not get a do-over. Millennials in the United States must know that there is no do-over of the 2016 election.
So as the Republican and Democratic conventions near in the next two weeks, I want to give some words of advice to fellow millennials. First, follow both presidential candidates on social media and try to watch their respective convention speeches. It will give you a great idea of who you might want to support. Second, follow College Debate 16 on Twitter and Instagram. College Debate 16 is representing college students and millennials in the selection of presidential debate questions. So if you have an issue that you are passionate about or a question you want Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to answer, tweet at them! Lastly, don’t make any excuses on election day. Go vote, whether it is at your school or via an absentee ballot. If you give up your voice in the election, you give up the ability to decide your own future.