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Millennial Generation Breaks Free from Two-Party Political Syste - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Millennial Generation Breaks Free from Two-Party Political System

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As the Millennial Generation heads to the voting booths and the campaign trails, change is on America's political horizon.
50 percent of Millennials consider themselves political independents, according to the Pew Research Center. That's up from 40 percent in 2007. The changes are being noticed by those in Washington.  
 
"Millennials have come of age in this really, really unique period of time in our history," says ThirdWay Senior Political Analyst Michelle Diggles.
 
Diggles says Millennials are empowered by information and technology and have grown up in a time of unparalleled choice.
 
"It's these kinds of really unique experiences that have some outside political implications. So, the first one I would say is that Millennials are really turning away from partisan labels," she says.
 
In a generation where everything can be customized, Millennials don't expect politics to be black or white, either.
 
"Millennials are much more like I'd like to personalize this. I'd like a little from column A and a little from column B," says Diggles
 
To give a sense of how Millennials compare, only 39 percent of Generation X, 37 percent of Baby Boomers and 32 percent of the Silent Generation say they're independents. Fargo Millennial Leah Peterson says she doesn't feel like she fits as either a Republican or a Democrat.
 
"I agree with both parties on some things, but it's not enough for me to say I want to commit to that," she says.
 
Peterson says she started researching the parties after she became a mother.
 
"Each one has their stance on where they are on social issues and I don't think that every social issue is black or white," she says.
 
Her search for a grey area  has led her to supporting independent or other third-party candidates with her vote.
 
"If we had someone from another perspective who represented us with other perspectives in there as well, I think it would bring about positive change," she says.
 
Researching policies and witnessing pivotal events of this generation's lifetime, like the war in Iraq, hurricane Katrina, the financial crisis and rollout of the Affordable Care Act caused the same distrust felt by many Millennials.
 
"I think more and more people are having revelations that 'Hey, you know, maybe what we were sold wasn't what's going on,'" she says. 
 
The Harvard Institute of Politics says only 20 percent of young Americans think the federal government will do the right thing all or most of the time.

Millennial Matthew Eriksen says Millennials also have political leanings- left or right- like any other generation.
 
"But neither 'wing,' I guess you could say, of this generation sees in their supposed, respective party what they want for the future," he says.
 
In addition to looking into third-party candidates, Eriksen says he plans on using the Republican party as a vehicle to create that change.
 
"What people need to stop doing is talking about how good things were when such and such person was in power. We need to start thinking 'Now what? What's next? Who is going to do something next?" he says.
 
For some Millennials looking to break free from the two-party system, they've decided to become Libertarian. The Libertarian Party of Minnesota held a convention in the Twin Cities April 26.
 
The Libertarian party stands for freedom on all issues all the time. You own yourself and nobody has the right to control your behavior as long as it doesn't infringe on someone else. The socially Liberal, fiscally Conservative ideals are attractive to some Millennials.
 
"As you survey younger people, they tend to be more socially Liberal, so that's kind of ingrained. They want freedom in their personal lives to marry who they want, to smoke whatever they want," says Millennial Libertarian Tylor Slinger.
 
The party's executive director says he has seen more and more young people joining the Liberty Movement, with most of those who are hands-on in the party being between the ages of 20 to 35.
 
"Our focus is not on older people, it's a demographic thing and over time we'll keep growing because the demographics are changing…especially on the social issues," says Executive Director Andy Burns.
 
It will be the youngest members of the Libertarian party, like 18-year-old R.J Penny spearheading that effort.
 
"Right now, in my honest opinion, this is the tip of the iceberg. Our generation is starting to realize that the two party system is broken; that the monetary system doesn't work," he says.
 
No matter what route the Millennials will choose to take, we are only at the beginning of seeing how they will transform American politics.
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