Millennials will make up nearly a third of the electorate this year. However, they will most likely make up the smallest bloc of voters in the next presidential election, according to a report released by the Pew Research Institute on Monday, May 16.
Why are 18 to 35-year-olds opting out of voting? Is it disinterest, apathy or perhaps dissatisfaction with American politics?
Senior Katrina Haffner said there are a lot of people who can feel isolated because they don’t like the mainstream candidates. Haffner, a double major in anthropology and theater, is president of the None of the Above club.
According to their Facebook page, the purpose of the club is to uncover the “flaws” of the two-party system, “educate people about politics in an unbiased manner” and “eliminate the ‘default’ option” where voters side with their party regardless of the issue.
“While we don’t necessarily condemn the Republican and Democratic parties we want people to acknowledge that there are other candidates and other parties for people to explore.”
Anyone can join the club regardless of their party affiliation. Haffner said club gatherings have a smaller, more comfortable feel to them.
“There are a lot of people who feel disenfranchised by the two-party system, and they just want to find another way of learning about politics and becoming involved that doesn’t involve having to be a part of the establishment,” Haffner said. “It’s always cool meeting those kinds of people and trying to help them out.”
Haffner said she thinks most people have views that don’t always align with their party. For example, she’s met Democrats that consider themselves “fiscally conservative” and Republicans that believe women have the right to make choices about their own bodies.
Recently, None of the Above co-hosted a town hall meeting with Students for Life, Young Americans for Liberty and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, on Tuesday, May 17. Students were invited to come and ask Republican lawmakers Sen. Doug Ericksen, Rep. Luanne Van Werven and Rep. Vincent Buys questions. Haffner said her goal for the event was to encourage students’ involvement with their government.
Sophomore Sean Rita, a political science major, is the club’s vice president. He is also the president of the Young Americans For Liberty club on campus. Rita said he thinks None of the Above is a club for anyone interested in politics.
“I left the Republican Party because I realized that a majority of Republicans vote along party lines, and I know that the Bernie supporters might leave the Democratic Party after the DNC screws Bernie out of the nomination,” Rita said. “Whether you’re a Kool-Aid Republican or Kool-Aid Democrat [the club] gives you a new perspective on all the issues from people who have left those parties.”
In its focus for community education, the club holds events where they give presentations on different political philosophies and ideologies such as fascism and nationalism, they hold discussions about the current state of nationwide politics and they inform students on how the voting system “screws over both political parties and independent candidates,” Haffner said.
“While we don’t necessarily condemn the Republican and Democratic parties we want people to acknowledge that there are other candidates and other parties for people to explore,” Haffner said.
To learn more about None of the Above and about political events happening on campus check out their Facebook page HERE.