Category Archives: Electoral Politics

Opinion: The Trump Presidency as a Catalyst for Millennial Activism

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Sanford Journal of Public Policy.

Source: National Gallery of Australia

No election in modern history has so publicly exposed the political divide between the young and the old as the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Millennials voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, who garnered 55% of the 18-29 vote, while Donald Trump only picked up 37%. On the flip side, 53% of those aged 65+ voted for Trump and 45% voted for Clinton. This glaring divide in American politics between the young (18-29) and the old (65+) has widened dramatically since George W. Bush’s first election when there was only a two percentage point difference between the young and the old that voted Democrat. The historic Millennial unfavorability for Trump, his cabinet, and his policies may well serve as a catalyst that spurs an increasingly generation-divided electorate to activism.

Clinton’s electoral defeat came as a complete surprise to the majority of the country, especially Millennials. The loss was particularly surprising because Clinton’s odds of winning had been projected at 95% by Reuters/Ipsos three weeks before the election and 71.4% by Millennial statistical soothsayer Nate Silver, up until the day of the election itself.

The fact that Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes, mostly from the Democratic and economic stronghold state of California, but lost the Electoral College is one manifestation of the specific characteristics that set Millennials apart from older generations. At 28.7%, Millennials make up the largest share of the US population, and are notorious for their lack of political participation.

Despite this, Millennials are ripe for activism not only because of Trump, but more broadly because of their youth, diversity, education, and discontent with their social and economic situation. Even though Millennials are the most well-educated generation, they are also underemployed and earn 20% less than their parents did at the same stage of life. Among Millennials themselves, there is a growing income gap between those with college degrees and those without, fueling a cultural gap as many college graduates head to liberal and economically powerful states on the coasts or to larger cities with relatively more job opportunities than the more rural or blue-collar communities from which they migrated out. For these non-urbanite Millennials, many of whom supported Trump, a common hope was that he would change the way Washington politics were “stacked against them.” However, by May of this year, only 40% of people said Trump had made such progress in changing the way Washington worked, while a majority 54% said he hadn’t. No wonder trust in the President to do the right thing has reached a nadir of just 24% among Millennials.

Only 32% of Millennials approve of Trump’s performance thus far, according to a poll released by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. A new Pew study has identified a massive 23% shift of young Republicans (under 30) to the Democratic Party since December 2015, further emphasizing the fact that Millennials are dropping the GOP like hotcakes.

Here’s where my opinion comes in. In my view, my generation is one that is increasingly feeling isolated from society, disaffiliating from organized religion, and suffering from mental illness, bleak economic prospects, and manufactured crises, such as the opioid epidemic. Despite the unprecedented challenges we face from global warming and other man-made disasters, older generations have dismantled the very social institutions, specifically education and housing, that made them the most prosperous group of people in American history, to the detriment of my own. They brought about the election of Donald Trump who many Millennials believe won the election illegitimately. In fact, a majority of Millennials oppose a great many of Trump’s policies, including climate change, tax reform, legalized marijuana, the Muslim ban, and healthcare.

The latest decision of Trump to back out of the Paris Agreement is indicative of the entire presidency not only in its short-sightedness, but also in terms of its backlash. Every generation that faces immense global challenges, such as the Greatest Generation, must have a catalyst that spurs them to action, a crucible that forges their will and inspires them to organize. The Millennial backlash can be seen in the Women’s March in DC, which shattered the previous US record for largest one-day protest, and in the insurgent grassroots rise of special election Democrats, such as the razor thin losses in Georgia and South Carolina.

Despite the worrying trajectory that Trump’s presidency has taken thus far, perhaps the silver lining is that this presidency has and will continue to galvanize this country’s young into political participation and give them the tools to face the immense challenges of the next half century head on.

Phil Hah is a 2017 Master of Public Policy graduate interested in politics, renewable energy, innovation ecosystems, and international affairs.

Why Planned Parenthood funding is more important than you think

1 in 5 women has visited Planned Parenthood at least once in her life.

1 in 5 women has visited Planned Parenthood at least once in her life.

Donations to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas tripled after Election Day. Many donors fear that a Trump presidency will strip Planned Parenthood of funding and limit the provision of reproductive health services to women. People are quick to equate Planned Parenthood with abortion, but the conversation should be much broader. Family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood provide affordable services for women that improve a wide-range of maternal health outcomes.

Maternal mortality – defined as the death of a women while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy – is an important indicator of women’s health outcomes in a country. The US is one of the few countries worldwide that experienced an increase in maternal mortality between 2000 and 2015. Because family planning clinics provide prenatal services to women that reduce the risks of pregnancy, they are important combatants of these negative trends. Continue reading

Durham Bond Approvals Reveal National Finance Challenges

As North Carolinians anxiously await the final results of the governor’s race, Durham County residents have successfully passed four different bond referendums totaling $170 million to fund public education, library, and museum projects. Nearly $91 million will be put towards improving school buildings and security systems in Durham Public Schools, which comes after a slew of recent budget cuts to the district.

Durham County’s approach to financing these education projects mirrors the national trend of cities and counties turning to local bonds in the 2016 election as a main revenue source for education and infrastructure projects. Bonds are essentially promises that the government makes to repay over a period of time, often through increased taxes, to finance public improvements like school building projects. Continue reading

Religious Progressivism: A Contradiction in Terms No More

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For most Americans, Paul Begala once quipped, the term “religious progressive” makes about as much sense as “jumbo shrimp.” Devotees of cable news or talk radio may be forgiven for their confusion. Religion is often portrayed in those venues as a monolithic force, firmly entrenched on the conservative side of the culture wars.

But cast a net in the sea of public opinion and you may be surprised by your haul. For instance, as part of an extensive survey, respondents were asked to rate their feelings for the poor on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 meaning completely negative feelings and 100 completely positive. The same respondents were asked if religion is “an important part of your life” and (if yes), does it provide “some guidance, quite a bit of guidance, or a great deal of guidance in your day-to-day life?” Across the board, the more religious a respondent was, the higher his professed level of sympathy.

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Election Night: Sanford Reacts

This piece was co-authored by Austen Edwards and Joe Fleming. 

So, Republicans have taken control of the Senate and Thom Tillis is North Carolina’s newest senator. What does it mean for the state and the nation as a whole? We’ve spoken with professors within the Sanford School, getting their reactions to the election, its implications, and what it means moving forward.

Senator Kay Hagan’s loss may come as a surprise given the historically high levels of spending and favorable media predictions, most of which had her tied or edging by as voters went to the polls. Assistant Professor of Public Policy Nick Carnes weighed in on the variation between what pundits predicted and how the race played out.

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NC Legislators Hold Q&A with Sanford Students

Here at Duke, North Carolina House Representatives Rick Glazier (D–Cumberland), Grier Martin (D–Wake), and Chuck McGrady (R–Henderson) recently joined students to discuss policy in practice. They spoke candidly of their experiences in the NC political system, the challenges they face in office, and fielded questions from an audience of professors and students.

(L-R) NC Representatives Grier Martin, Rick Glazier, and Chuck McGrady address an audience of Sanford students and professors.(L-R) NC Representatives Grier Martin, Rick Glazier, and Chuck McGrady address policy in practice at Sanford.

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