CLEVELAND – “Millennials would rather engage in PokemonGo than politics,” Laquan Austion, CEO of Action for America, said in a panel on July 20.
The perception that millennials are not engaged in their country and her future is a notion that is expressed by many.
But, Austion later went on to say that “[Millennials] do actually care.”
The younger generation may be engaged in the future of their country, but often lack the knowledge that allows them to fully participate in the political process.
A knowledge of the basic functions of political parties is a simple way millennials can start to more fully understand the rest of this election season.
Modern American politics often starts at the political parties.
Republicans have been in the spotlight this week, with the Republican National Convention.
Steve Yates, Chairman of the Idaho Delegation at the convention, said that when it comes to the Republican Party, there are several ways Americans involve themselves.
“There’s a couple of different ways about thinking about being a member of the [Republican Party],” Yates said. “One is you go to your county elections office; you register to vote. There’s a box there that says, ‘Are you Republican, Democrat, other party, unaffiliated.’”
Declaring political loyalty is one way a person gets into the political process.
The Republican Party is made up of many levels of influence.
Yates said that the party begins at the county level, moves up to the state level and eventually ends at the national level.
Each level is governed by rules and committees that operate under those rules.
These rules are especially important in at the national level, particularly during the GOP convention.
Americans saw these rules at work during a heated debate between delegates about the convention rules on Monday, July 18.
Even though the debate on the floor seemed chaotic and unconventional, it actually was an occurrence supported by convention rules.
“There was a sufficient number of members of the minority,” Yates said. “It was a small minority, but you had to have, I think 20 percent of the members of the committee say they wanted to file what was a called a minority report.”
That report called for a change to the proposed convention rules.
The proposal failed in earlier committees, but the delegates wanted more than a voice vote to confirm that result.
“The floor manager seemed to have a choice, do we want to have this measure raised and fail quickly or do we want to have this measure raised and fail slowly,” Yates said.
After deciding on a voice vote, the quickest way to determine the state’s opinions, delegates wanted a more transparent show of results and called for a roll call vote, the slowest method of gathering votes.
But, those weren’t the only options for determining the vote.
“Usually, when you’re running a meeting, and I would have preferred that the chair would have done this, when it’s ambiguous by voice vote, you can go by a show of hands, or even better, a standing vote,” Yates said.
All of these methods are supported by the rules of the Republican Party.
This example demonstrates a simple truth that millennials can embrace: understanding the high vocabulary and procedures of politics, while helpful, isn’t necessary to begin navigating the political process – especially during the election season.
But, understanding the basics of politics is a great way to start.
Panelists like Laquan Austion encouraged millennials to start local as they begin to engage in politics.
“You know, I would say first, find one of your local elected representatives,” Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Government Outreach Director for Facebook, said in a panel. “Find them on Facebook, like them, comment on their stuff, start engaging, share some of those things and have those conversations with your friends.”