What Is Really Turning Off Millennial Voters

The 2016 presidential campaign is picking up steam -- along with party polarization and extremist politics in the name of "rallying" voter bases.

We are at the center of the chaos, as panic-stricken journalists, reporters and analysts attempt to discern who will capture the elusive millennial vote.

While considerable time is always spent trying to "figure out" the peculiar voting behaviors of America's youth, this question bears particular importance going into 2016. Millennials officially make up the largest group of eligible voters, overtaking the baby boomers as the single-largest generation in American history.

When you factor in our decisive role in re-electing President Obama in 2012, it's safe to say that presidential hopefuls are pining away for our votes.

Our take on 2016? Focus on uniting our country instead of etching deeper party divisions with extremist political rhetoric.

A Generation of GDIs

With gridlock and party polarization serving as the political backdrop of our youth, we've grown to distrust and resent the very institutions erected to represent us.

"I have seen a lot of political gridlock and a lot of different factors in Washington that have made me think I'm not really sure what party that I believe in," said Allyson Perez, a junior at Harvard, in an interview with Fox News. "I just really want to see someone who can bring people together and forget all the partisanship."

Source: Pew Research

Perez echoes the concerns of many young voters, who are more likely to identify as independents than republicans or democrats.

It seems that the polarization plaguing Capitol Hill has spawned disillusionment with party affiliation as a whole. For Gen Y, it's more about unity and less about picking a side and staying there.

Generation Why

One-sided politics also diverge from a critical way of thinking common to Internet natives.

Having spent our primitive years immersed and sometimes oversaturated in media, we've been exposed to a vast spectrum of ideas often different from our own.

Instead of accepting or rejecting the array of opinions at face value, we ask questions, search for answers and ultimately piece together our own unique set of beliefs. We have an innate inclination to ask "why?" when exposed to new perspectives (hence the moniker, "Generation Why"), while questioning our own viewpoints in the process.

In a classroom setting, this ability to think critically is said to "encourage students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them," according to Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt of The Atlantic. "Such questioning sometimes leads to discomfort, even anger, on the way to understanding."

When it comes to something as serious as politics, it feels unnatural, if not ignorant, to regard one's own opinions as fact without at least considering the opposite.

Good Intentions & Bad Consequences

Extremist politics can also be dangerous. When voiced publicly and with indignation, they can be interpreted as justification for certain violent acts, all in the name of "rallying" behind a perceived ideology or team.

Take a recent Donald Trump rally, for instance, where a Trump supporter spit on an immigration activist while repeatedly screaming "fuck you."

In any other situation, this would be considered barbaric and deserving of consequences. In the context of a political rally, however, the spitter was gently pulled back towards fellow Trump supporters, while the victim of said spit, along with his fellow protesters, was immediately escorted off the premises.

Our Take

Extreme politics don't exactly vibe with our progressive way of thinking - not to mention the political process. With a White House so riddled with political gridlock that we compromise efficiency in the name of pride, we need a breath of fresh air now more than ever.

A version of this post originally appeared on GenFKD.com in November 2015.