By Chris Rand
If you have at least two-thirds of your life to go, Future Caucus is a political path forward.
In 2014, Americans won an enormous victory when 30-year-old Republican Elise Stefanik became the youngest woman elected to Congress in U.S. history. Already a landmark win for women everywhere, her election has uniqueness in spades. For one, she is a young, female Republican, and the first Republican to win New York’s 21st open district since 1993.
At 32 years old, she is a Millennial—which, after her re-election in 2016, makes her one of only nine Millennials currently in Congress, only one of which is another woman: Tulsi Gabbard.
Democrat Tulsi Gabbard had been the youngest female in Congress when she was elected in 2012. She’s also the first Hindu, first lawmaker of Samoan ancestry, and one of the first two female combat veterans in Congress—she fought in the Iraq War.
But in a historically democratic district, who voted for Stefanik?
Responsive and Progressive Politics
Rep. Aaron Schock, age 35, Former Representative for Illinois’s 18th congressional district:
If you took all the members [of Congress] under the age of 40 and locked them in a room, they’d be able to come up with solutions to our problems in 24 hours. Many of us are less interested in the institution and more interested in finding solutions… But after this [indictment], I am forced to join the millions of Americans who have sadly concluded that our federal justice system is broken, and too often driven by politics instead of facts.
Despite opposing claims, the political conversation among Millennials is electric; and as opposed to previous generations’ numbers, Millennial unity surrounding the most pressing political issues is unprecedented. For example:
- 56% of Millennials who voted in the primaries voted for Bernie Sanders—more than Donald Trump (23%) and Hillary Clinton (21%) combined.
- 70% of Millennials support same-sex marriage, including 61% of young Republicans.
- 91% of Millennials acknowledge the facts about climate change, including clear majorities in both major political parties.
Perhaps the most important political discussions among young people are those of authenticity, transparency, and bipartisanship, regardless of party credos. For example, Stefanik, a Republican, claims she supports “bipartisan policy reforms to help increase job growth, both in her district and on a national level,” in a 2016 Fox 28 interview and on her website.
As children growing up in an era of relentless abuse of power and deceit at the highest levels of both public and private sectors—and as witnesses of the government’s failure to do anything about these problems—Millennials have had the added challenge of overcoming a crippling economy and job market, as well as insurmountable student debt, following the greatest economic crisis since an event they read about in their high school History classes.
Unsurprisingly, young people are making nuanced demands for transformational leadership, and finally, bringing nuanced leadership to Capitol Hill itself. That’s because what has been a shocking decline in reason and good judgment within Congress is a rude awakening for those who are just starting families, launching careers, and engaging in politics for the first time.
The Future Caucus
In 2013, Rep. Aaron Schock and Dem. Tulsi Gabbard decided the Venn diagram of the body politic needed a new circle. It was the formation of a new caucus—The Future Caucus. According to Gabbard:
Clearly there is a lot of frustration that exists with Congress, and we feel like we have a responsibility to work together to be able to make progress for our country, but not just for the next six months or the next year, but really work together to find solutions for the next generation. Being in a position where you are constantly reacting to situations or playing defense is not where we want to be.
The Future Caucus made headway as an effective organization in Congress last year when the bipartisan Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016, introduced by Future Caucus member Seth Moulton (D-MA), was passed. The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing (HIRE) Veterans Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Gabbard, was passed in 2016 as well.
The Caucus has also introduced bills to ease student debt, eliminate cyberbullying, and others to provide more opportunities for young people. They have established bipartisan efforts in 14 U.S. States from coast to coast, and there are multiple ways to get involved by signing up online.
“The Markwayne Mullin”
Abridged from the New York Times article, Sweating Out Their Differences.
In 2014, Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma—a Republican—led other members of the House of Representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, in an early-morning workout, simply called the Markwayne Mullin. In the ‘inner sanctum’ of Congress—the members-only gym of the House—a new, bipartisan ‘congress’ was forming around reps and sit-ups. According to the New York Times:
In an era of increasing gridlock and vitriol between the two parties, the House gym has emerged as one of the few places where members can set politics aside and achieve some sweat-infused bipartisanship. The across-the-aisle friendships, solidified over sets of box jumps, are already paying dividends.
Gabbard and Schock, “two of the fittest members of the group,” had just introduced a bipartisan immigration bill that would permanently extend a visa program for immigrant investors. Gabbard claims in the Times interview that The Future Caucus “was really born from the conversations we had in the gym early in the morning, talking about the things we were finding frustrating.”
The unspoken rule about the exercise regime is that it remains ‘politics free.’ But one wonders how new, personal bonds and mutual respect from across the mat might improve things from across the aisle.
Chris Rand is a professional copywriter, a business analyst, and an idealist. As a statistics guy, he believes data holds the key to truth, justice, and vindication for Millennials.