Ben Shapiro: Don't Believe The Midterms Hype—Woke Millennials Can't Be Bothered To Vote | Opinion

After the Parkland shooting, a wave of enthusiasm washed over the Democratic Party. Sure, they acknowledged, Republicans controlled the Congress, Senate, and presidency. But all that would soon change, with the rise of the youth.

Ah, yes, the youth. The millennials who would suddenly discover their voices. The high schoolers who would graduate and age into the voting population. The woke youngsters who would enter the fray, wielding their principles with excitement and relish.

The tip of the spear, in this view, was the group of pro-gun control Parkland students behind the #NeverAgain movement. New York Magazine published a massive piece about the creation of a gun control movement that would surely shake the world ("Parkland, with its palm trees and man-made waterways, is an unlikely home base for a teen revolution, but that's what it's become, drawing like-minded rebels from across the country and the state to demand an accounting"); National Geographic praised the students for "mobiliz[ing] a nation"; The New York Times praised them for starting a historic movement. David Hogg, leader of the student group, summed it up: "The young people will win!"

But what if the young people stay home?

While Andy Bernstein of HeadCount, a voter registration group, said at the beginning of June that Parkland students had produced "unparalleled results," but new statistics suggest otherwise. According to The Washington Post, a new analysis of voter registration data from Aristotle Inc. found "hardly any change in the overall share of registered voters ages 18 to 29 since the Parkland shootings. That, coupled with low enthusiasm from the youngest voters and the group's history of anemic turnout in midterm elections, does not point to under-30 voters having a huge impact in November."

This makes perfect sense. Age has always been a bizarre criteria to distinguish a group cohort. At least older Americans have some common interests, including policies like Social Security and Medicare; younger Americans have no such common interests. And while the media spend each election cycle attempting to glom onto the supposedly hot new thing that will unify the youth, the youth simply isn't particularly unified or motivated in Congressional elections.

Voters aged 18-29 haven't turned out at more than a 50 percent rate in Congressional elections since before 1980. Even in presidential years, only the elections of 1992 and 2008 saw turnout above fifty percent—and then, just barely (52 percent and 51.1 percent, respectively). Young people just don't show up to vote.

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Stock image. Voters aged 18-29 haven’t turned out at more than a 50 percent rate in Congressional elections since before 1980. iStock

It turns out that Americans vote more often as they age. The voting rate among those aged above 65 hovers around 70 percent; for those 45-64, the number is just a few percent lower; for those aged 30-44, it's usually around 60 percent. This makes some sense: the longer you're in the workforce, the more skin you have in the game. If you're invested in the political system with tax dollars and government programs, you're likely to get active. Furthermore, marriage and children tend to change voting habits—and as we increase the age of marriage and childbearing, political involvement is predictably declining.

But what of the "passion" of young people? It's wishful thinking. America is a rapidly aging country, and young people pay the price for bad policy—but the effects of those policies is far less immediate for young people. If it weren't, young people would be far more concerned about the national debt and collapsing entitlements than about gun control—as an age cohort, they're going to pay the price for those government failures.

What all of this should show is that the media's emphasis on youth revolutions is wildly overstated. Young people don't lead us in politics. In some ways, that's a terrible thing—they're the ones who get screwed by political cliques kicking the can down the road. But in other ways, it's not a terrible thing—young people tend to be more easily swayed by romantic political movements (see Sanders, Bernie).

In any case, perhaps it's time to retire the myth that the youth tsunami will change everything—and perhaps it's time to stop dividing Americans by age, rather than treating them as discrete individuals capable of unique perspectives.

Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of "The Ben Shapiro Show," available on iTunes and syndicated across America.​

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​

Ben Shapiro: Don't Believe The Midterms Hype—Woke Millennials Can't Be Bothered To Vote | Opinion | Opinion