If the youth had a super PAC, what would it advocate?
Let Gays Marry!
According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, 58 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds believe that the president himself should work to legalize marriage equality. That's one percentage point off from how many Americans (of all ages) the same pollsters found opposed same-sex marriage in '09.
This year's Pew Research Center study concurred that this is a "generational change," as Americans born during or after Reagan's presidency are almost two times as likely to approve of gay marriage than members of the Silent Generation are. From the Silents to the Boomers to Gen X-ers to Millennials, you can see a steady rise in support among all generations -- and a direct correlation between your opinion and the year of your birth.
The Public Research Institute -- in conjunction with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University -- conducted "a new national survey of college-age Millennials" on the topic of the election, faith, and values. This past spring, they found that most citizens between the ages of 18 and 24 would have voted hell "yea" on the DREAM Act. The only dissenters? College-aged white evangelical protestants. The bill proposes a legal pathway to residency for undocumented immigrants if they: (A) came to the U.S. before their Super Sweet 16, (B) have yet to celebrate their 30th birthday, (C) don't have a criminal record, (D) have lived here for half a decade, and (E) go to one of our colleges or served in our military.
Sixty-one percent of Millennials support the controversial legislation that helps keep children of "illegals" within our shores. Even more controversial than the legislation is the fact that Obama, a president whose own status as an American-born citizen is doubted by almost half of all registered Republicans, completely dissed Congress by issuing his own Executive Order to pass a version of the bill that ends the deportation of 800,000 young people. Unlike President Reagan, President Obama is not granting amnesty; in fact, he's kicked out over a million "aliens" since his presidency. And speaking of teens, aliens, and Obama conspiracy theories, this year, the White House officially denied reports that a 19-year-old "Barry" Obama teleported to Mars on a secret mission for the CIA in 1980.
Raise Taxes on the Rich!
According to that same survey, 63 percent of college-aged Americans are in agreement on something else: their country doesn't give its citizens an equal chance in life. Even more of them, almost three quarters in fact, think their economic system unfairly favors the wealthy. Millennials who are registered Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are united in their desire for more government action in reducing the gap between the poor and the rich.
That's why they're also strongly united, irrespective of their party, in their support of the "Buffett Rule." This rule, assumingly named after millionaire Jimmy Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band, increases the tax rate on the rich. According to 72 percent of Millennials, if you make over a million bucks a year, you should pay a minimum of 30 percent on your income tax. And despite the fact that Obama's "Buffett Rule" is not in place, CNN found the same exact percentage of all Americans agree with Millennials on millionaires in their support of the tax plan.
Speaking of Coral Reefer, Gallup recently found that "support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age." The generational gap on this issue -- which isn't necessarily at the top of Millennials' list of concerns -- is as clear as (a clear) day: as many as 62 percent of young people (18-29) think pot should be legal and as little as 31 percent of elderly people (65+) do not.
Though this doesn't mean 62 percent of Millennials support legalization because they're pot-smokers, it's important to note that recent numbers from the National Survey on Drug Use & Health indicate that in the first three years of Barack Obama's presidency, the rate of illicit drug use among young adults (18-25) jumped from 19.7 to 21.4 percent. The stats can be attributed to the fact that last year, under a president who's a former member of "The Choom Gang," close to 70 percent of the 3 million "first-time experiences" with illicit drugs last year involved, well, chooming.
Today, half of the country supports the legalization of cannabis -- which is the highest on record, no pun intended. But, as with the "Buffett Rule," national support has yet to translate into national action.
Help Us Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies and Support Abortion!
The New York Times and CBS report that three quarters of Millennials are of the Sandra Fluke viewpoint on birth control: insurance companies should be required to cover it. They even believe colleges and hospitals affiliated with religious institutions should provide free BC as well.
But before Rush Limbaugh dubs us "The Slutty Generation," The National Campaign also surveyed young adults (via cell phone because landlines are like VHS tapes or newspapers) and found that a vast majority believe the issue of unplanned pregnancies is more important than other social and economic problems and thus warrants national attention and education.
Perhaps that's why 69 percent of them told Lake Research Partners that the Pill is "one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the last century." The Pill is the leading method of contraception for women under 30, says the Guttmacher Institute, and yet, even the White House acknowledges the majority of those women admit to struggling with the cost.
As with contraceptives, young people just want abortions to be available. While less than half of seniors and 60 percent of Baby Boomers support access to abortions in their own community, almost 70 percent of Millennials support that local availability. (By the way, they're statistically more likely to support abortions if they watch MTV, thanks to Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant.) And 85 percent of The National Campaign's young respondents think that if you're an adamantly anti-abortion politician, then you better be an adamantly pro-BC one.
Not only do most Millennials want government assistance in preventing pregnancies, but they also want federal intervention in preventing HIV. Last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation learned that less than half of Boomers and seniors think the government should spend more cash to fight HIV and AIDS. Well, 63 percent of Millennials disagree with those parents and grandparents.
The stats show that most people under 30 genuinely think more spending is needed and that more spending leads to meaningful progress. Not only that, but about half of them want more information about both "how to prevent the spread of HIV" and "how to talk with children about HIV/AIDS."
Now if someone called a college kid's cell phone and asked "Should we do more to stop a murderous STD?" it's easy for us to see why they'd hear a "yes" and therefore easy for us to dismiss these numbers. But for the first time in a decade, "personal concern" about getting the virus increased dramatically. After years of "a growing complacency," says Kaiser, "the change was driven by young people." In my freshman year of college, that individual concern statistic was in the teens. By my junior year, about a quarter of my entire generation personally fear infection.
If the changes in concerns were youth-driven, will the changes in policies be as well?