It’s true that people rarely learn from elections, but there’s something brewing out there in the minds of likely voters that repudiates this statement. America has always been a solid nation, one of economic growth and stability, the land of the free and the home of the brave. But that’s not the sentiment felt across the nation right now. The longest serving senator in Delaware was replaced by a Sarah Palin prodigy, cementing the anti-establishment sentiment among voters all over America.
When did this anti-establishment feeling really begin (in the last few years)? In my opinion, it all began during the Presidential Election of 2008. Obama’s campaign strategists developed a campaign that focused its efforts on mobilizing the number one unlikely voter base: the youngsters. How’d the do it so successfully?
Here’s my shoe box-sized summation; Generation Y is an ensemble from an entirely new breed of designers, and we’re not easily understood by anyone but ourselves because we’re anything but an establishment. We’ve lived through the Oklahoma City bombings, Sesame Street, September 11th, when MTV actually played music videos, Desert Storm, globalization, and the birth of the interconnected digital world we refer to as the “Internet.” This digital development connected us youngsters not only across the nation, but across the globe. Suddenly, we’re sharing our lives via Facebook and getting jobs by posting resumes on LinkedIn. We’re constantly connected to our phones and to each other, because we like to unabashedly share our life experiences with the world. Since we share in our peers joys and sorrows, we’ve developed an acute sense of camaraderie and tenacious teamwork. One might say that all this life experience sharing with hundreds and thousands of people across the globe means we crave attention, and they’d be right. Gen Y’ers do crave attention, but it’s the right kind of attention we crave, such as feedback at work, from our beloved families, and from our peers. We crave this attention and feedback because we’re achievement-oriented. We’re a happy generation, one of hope, civic-mindedness, and we fall head over stilettos in love with the possibility of making a real difference we can see and feel.
What the Obama campaign did was take the ideals of Generation Y and base their campaign around it, and it worked. Two years later, most young folks have not altered their views of the President, but it might not necessarily have been Obama they fell in love with, moreover I strongly believe it was the chance we could actually be involved in making a difference, in the power of an active democracy.
Playing devil’s advocate for just a second, younger generations have not had nearly the experience with government that our parents and grandparents have. We don’t even come into contact with the government until we go get a driver’s license, so we’re more idealistic because we’ve yet to experience what our predecessors have. And it’s this experience that’s turned the most likely voters against the “DC establishment.” This is why the Palin prodigy won in Delaware, and since Manchin started running an attack ad against Raese, I cannot help but think his tracking polls must have been pretty close to Rasmussen’s results.
How do we Democrats capitalize on this anti-establishment sentiment among our likely voters? Where’s there’s a will, there’s a way. And when asked how well we Democrats work under pressure, I always reply, “Pressure makes diamonds.”