Millennials Make Progress: A Conversation with Layla Zaidane
Find out more about the millenial dialogue here.
On June 16, 2016, The Young Transatlantic Network (YTN) of The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in Brussels hosted Layla Zaidane, the managing director at Generation Progress, to discuss millennials’ engagement in our modern democratic and voting systems. Generation Progress is the youth advocacy arm of the Center of American Progress. The organization educates, engages, and mobilizes young people around the issues that matter most to them, ranging from higher education and immigration reform to the economy and women's rights.
The discussion tackled the reasons why millennials are becoming increasingly disengaged with politics. Millennials express broad distrust toward institutions and often feel that political parties no longer represent their opinions. Additionally, there is an overall lack of civic education as well as a shortage of communication between traditional politics and young voters, which leads to a lack of interest toward politics. During the session, the audience engaged in addressing issues such as the generation gap, how to promote millennial ideals in the work place and in which way political parties could get back the attention and support of young citizens.
Several interesting points were made. First, while many people tend to only vote during their major national elections, it is at the local level that they can really see the direct impact of their votes. Making voters, especially millennials, aware of this connection can increase voter turnout. Second, encouraging local engagement will make youth aware of their power to make a change: what politicians ultimately care about is votes, therefore the more engaged people are with voting and the more vocal they are about their concerns, the more likely politicians will adapt their positions toward issues which will garner them the most support.
The conversation concluded with the realization that there are in fact very few differences between generations. Rather, it is just a matter of pulling both sides toward a point of common understanding. When it comes to the public policy field the most important skills are still a desire to make change, a sense of public service, and the drive to move an issue.