By Staff Writer James Mellen III.
While the road to the 2020 election still looms ahead of us (and honestly, after only a month of politicians announcing their exploratory committees it feels as though it’s been looming behind us as well), the discourse surrounding it has primarily focused on the last presidential election in 2016.
However, this election cycle has already broken all of the rules that have historically existed, for at least two reasons: 1. Donald Trump is the incumbent president. 2. This is the first presidential election cycle in which the entire millennial generation is over 18, making us the largest generation in America.
This isn’t to say that millennial outnumber non-millennial, but it is just to say that millennial outnumber the combined Boomer and Gen X generation, and that we have the plurality over them.
So this election cycle is already distinctly different than 2016. It does, however, mirror perhaps the most important election in modern American history: the Reagan election of 1980.
This was the first American election in which the Baby Boomer generation was completely of voting age. It also followed the election of Jimmy Carter, a president who broke the traditional New Deal expectations of the democratic party for a more modern incantation of the DNC that we know today.
The primary Republican election of 1980 also featured a large playing field, with eight candidates running for the republican presidential candidate spot.
There are roughly eight candidates who are currently running for the DNC.
While there were eight candidates in the 1980 election, the spot quickly narrowed down to only two primary candidates: former head of the CIA, George H.W. Bush, and former governor of California, Ronald Reagan.
Reagan had been considered an early favorite in the primaries after challenging and almost defeating long time Republican establishment leader Gerald Ford in the primary race only four years earlier.
He also had a an economic policy known which was referred to as “voodoo economics” by his political adversaries.
Bernie Sanders is also running against a cop four years after challenging and nearly beating the establishment DNC with an economic plan that is constantly under intense scrutiny by his political adversaries.
While this isn’t a fool-proof cultural analysis that proves that Bernie Sanders is going to win the 2020 election, it is representative of a shift in American politics that hasn’t occurred since 1980.
Reagan’s presidency birthed an age of American history known as the Reagan era, which was marked by it’s supply side economics, generally conservative social progress, and interventionist foreign policy.
This isn’t just the legacy of Ronald Reagan, but the legacy of the Baby Boomer generation, who made a similar mark in the United Kingdom with the election of Margaret Thatcher.
As this lasting impact dies along with the Boomer generation with the election of Donald Trump or the Brexit election in the U.K, it’s time for the millennial generation to start to think about what our lasting impact is going to be for America, and moreover, the world.
It’s not hard to see the start of where our generation is going.
Bernie Sanders raised 6 million dollars in twelve hours earlier this week, and the millennial candidates that are currently in office are challenging the norms that have been in place for years.
One of the most impactful and overlooked moments of the early stages of the millennial era of American politics was two weeks ago, when the millennial representative of Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, Ilhan Omar, directly called out criminal and head of Trump’s Venezuela policy Elliot Abrams out for his involvement in the El Salvadorian genocides of the 80s.
Abrams enacted foreign policy that was central to Reagan’s foreign policy in the 80s, and this young millennial congresswoman’s call out for his monstrous foreign policy in Central America is the perfect representation of the way that the American voting landscape is changing.
We can’t afford to make the same mistakes as the generations before us. We can’t allow for genocide. We can’t cut investments on renewable energy. We can’t continue to enforce racist drug policy. We can’t tolerate policy that makes queer people feel unsafe in our country or our communities.
Even if Trump wins again in 2020, in the same way the Boomers have been in control of the political establishment since 1980, we are about to have control over the political establishment.
We need to start doing something our parents or grandparents never did for us and lead our children towards a better world than we inherited.