I was listening to one of the better and more informative pollsters
on Fox News last evening talking about the impact of the youth vote on
this presidential election. Frank Luntz had assembled groups of young
adults on a college campus and probed their reactions to the leading
candidates. They were enthusiastically engaged in the political
process. They expressed well-informed opinions of the two parties and
their candidates. It was interesting, and far more polite and
thoughtful than a lot of more seasoned voters’ expressions of political
Then Luntz said something to wrap up the segment that grabbed my
attention. It was a new observation. He said the youth vote is not only
more actively involved than ever before and making a significant
difference in this election, but they’re also looking at politics
through a different lens unique to their demographic. They’re the
generation of divorced parents, and they don’t want anything to do with
bickering or negative people.
That’s it. I suddenly recalled a scene late in the film “Juno” in
which the lead character (Juno) seriously asks her father if people can
stay married anymore, if they can make a commitment to another person
and honor it. She asked if fighting and leaving is a necessary fact of
married life (which played into the central storyline of the film). She
is of the generation that worries about commitments and responsibility,
and they’re looking for signs of hope and inspiration that people can
rise above themselves for a greater good. They’re looking for harmony
and unity, they’re scarred from division, and they’re getting excited
about the possibility that they can finally make a difference in their
‘home’, the larger one that is their country.
They were Republicans, Democrats and Independents. And they respect
all the candidates, but back the one who inspires the most hope for
strong leadership and security on the homefront. That turned
out to be a different candidate for different students. Another thing
that makes this group unique is that they’re listening for ideas as
much as rhetoric, because they know promises are hard to keep.
When this campaign becomes a contest of ideas, it’ll be very interesting to see where these young adults go.