This story is part of “Count on Democrats to give Virginians what’s needed: Unity”
Building off momentum left from the 2017 gubernatorial election, Virginia’s most recent election has continued the trend of the blue wave, taking both houses of the state’s legislature for the first time in 26 years. Voter turnout, specifically among millennials and Gen Zs, are reaching greater heights, almost doubling since the state’s 2015 election cycle. This is no accident, as voter mobilization efforts on Virginia’s college campuses have increased with the help of student organizers working tirelessly around the clock to register eligible voters. An increase in eagerness surrounding the democratic process has given millennials a voice, a voice loud enough to influence legislation that could have a lasting impact on our generation.
This change in leadership means everything and more for the millennial voter with worries surrounding the Earth’s changing climate, gun violence, healthcare, maintaining abortion access, gender equality, raising the minimum wage, and so much more. Previously, Democrats were in a never ending uphill battle against a seemingly uncooperative Republican majority. A well-known example of an unwillingness to work across the aisle happened after the tragic mass shooting in Virginia Beach, which claimed the lives of 12 people. Governor Ralph Northam called a special legislative session with regards to gun control related bills in hopes of offering more than just “thoughts and prayers”. The response was fundamentally unsuccessful, as the session was adjourned by the Republican majority in just 90 minutes with not a single bill advanced.
Despite the challenges of the past, millennial liberals are beginning to gather with excitement as the opportunity for new and progressive legislation is being put at the forefront. The ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment seems to be one of the more talked about matters in question. The impact of adding gender based protections to the Constitution gives women, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people federal civil rights protections that were similarly being fought for since the beginnings of women’s rights movements. Virginia’s millennial constituents are also putting pressure on the legislature to commit the state to progress on climate change goals, with the first step being a complete shift to clean and renewable energy. Such goals operate with the hopes of being met by the year 2050.
The nationalization and historic numbers in voter turnout of this election cycle makes it seem as though voters were using the opportunity to show their discontent with the executive office at the local level. With such tremendous success, millennials can’t help but feel optimistic not only toward new and progressive legislation, but also in terms of the upcoming general presidential election. With such progress at the local and state levels, legislative priorities at the Federal level could soon reflect such efforts, paving the way for this generation on the national scale and for generations to come.