Millennials and the 2016 Election: Reform or Revolution?

From the rise of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement to the rebellions in Ferguson/Baltimore and the Dreamers push for immigration reform, the national political landscape facing youth has radically shifted since the historic presidential election of Barack Obama. Recent news headlines highlight this tendency:


In Portland, Boston and Atlanta, #BlackLivesMatter organizers disrupted business as usual by challenging presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Likewise, emerging young leaders declare in public forums and on social media that they refuse to endorse a presidential candidate. Still others insist that supporting grassroots activism—rather than presidential candidates—gets closer to the heart of sorely needed radical social change.


Despite the growing turn out of 18-29 year-old voters in presidential elections (up nearly 10 percent since 2004), little traction has been gained on issues that matter most to them. Youth unemployment rates, college costs, and student loans, for example, remain at all-time highs. Additionally, the failure of elected officials to overwhelmingly respond to the scores of national youth-led protests against police killings of unarmed citizens over the last year beg the question, what will youth gain by participating in 2016?


Election 2016: Reform or Revolution? will explore the intricacies of these debates. Beyond informing students about the candidates and the major issues facing youth this election season, this interactive forum, led by a panel of expert activists, scholars and artists, will challenge students to embrace civic engagement efforts in 2016 and beyond. 

• Can the digital technology strategies so successful in reaching young voters in 2012 be remixed for grassroots activist efforts today?             

• What is the potential for a third political party or political force beyond the two-party system?                      

 • Can young voters have a more transformative impact in local rather than national elections?

• What models are emerging for grassroots activism in cities like Ferguson and Detroit that prove more effective than unwilling government efforts? 


• What will be the influence of hip-hop in 2016, given its influence with young voters in past election cycles?                      

 • Given high voter turn outs in 2008 and 2012 among young Blacks and women, in what ways are these groups leveraging their influence today?