We are going to inherit the world. I know, that’s a big statement, but I do believe that’s the truth. And the process of our inheritance will start (if it hasn’t already) with this 2012 election.
It’s estimated that Millennials could be worth up to 24% of the total electorate, making us a major influential force within the upcoming election.
As a result, both presidential candidates have made efforts to please the Millennial voting bloc. But while Millennials are generally happy with promises on issues such as LGBT rights, abortion and the student debt crisis, they’ve seemingly let foreign policy slip through the cracks. Rebuilding the economy and supporting rights we believe in are priorities for good reason, but does foreign policy even receive a fraction of the enthusiasm for the aforementioned causes?
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t an accusation of ignorance or naivety. I understand that Millennials know all too well the effects of foreign policy. This past anniversary of 9/11 and the recent murder of a beloved American ambassador is a reminder of that. We are a generation that remembers 9/11 as an actual date in our lives; a generation that felt the pain of two excruciatingly long wars. They are real, tangible events to us, and as such, there’s no surprise that 77% of Millennials claim to disapprove of the Iraq War.
We are a generation that undoubtedly wants to reassess the United State’s role in world affairs.
The problem is, I don’t think we quite know what we want yet. We don’t have a vision that we will rally and fight for. Sure, not all of us are going to have the same global agenda. But if we rallied behind a foreign cause with perhaps just half the enthusiasm we had for the failed KONY 2012 event, the influence with the political world (as well as the media) would be unprecedented.
Without a common cause that we recognize as for the common good, our potential would never be utilized. It’s our recognition of the necessary funding for education, or the rebuilding of the economy, that leads us to protest publicly or tweet to all our followers. And that’s what ultimately alerts those with more power about what we want accomplished as a generation.
But what we do have right now is a foundation to build upon.
52% of Millennials want the U.S to stay out of world affairs. While this isn’t an overpowering majority, compared to the 35% of other generations that agree, it’s obvious that we’ve developed a more isolated view of foreign policy over the years. From this, it’s easy to deduce something most of us can agree on: no more wars and no more invasions (without justified cause).
58% of Millennials see Asia as more important to the United States than Europe (compared to 54% of those over forty-five that believe in Europe). There’s definitely a generational difference here – not surprising, considering most of the devices we use are branded with “Made In China”. Politically, however, this carries a lot of weight. What future Millennial leaders would want from this (perhaps a shift in our closest ally?) is something only events in the next few years will allude to.
We’ve already made a significant impact on this upcoming 2012 election by voicing our opinions on social and economic issues. But we shouldn’t stop there. Foreign policy is wholeheartedly deserving of our focus, voices and thoughts – only there will we truly understand what it means to lead a nation.
“The purpose of foreign policy is not to provide an outlet for our own sentiments of hope or indignation; it is to shape real events in a real world.” – John F. Kennedy
Nathan Chen is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. He lives in Seattle, Washington and thoroughly enjoys the activism-infused setting he lives in. His personal goal is to, in any way possible, gain recognition for The Millennial Generation while also helping it realize its full potential. In the future he wishes to pursue a career in law or journalism, with an intent to serve others.