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How Millennials Can Move the Political Needle with Charlotte Alter

interviews Dec 10, 2021

In this episode, Sharon is joined by TIME correspondent, Charlotte Alter, to discuss millennials in politics. Charlotte shares her thoughts about how the unique political climate of the past 20 years–as millennials hit young adulthood–has affected the way they view government, politics, and social issues. Together, Sharon and Charlotte tackle the reasons why it’s been difficult for millennials to carve out their own political paths, and share ways in which they can turn over political power to a more diverse and younger generation of change makers.


Links to Full Episode:


This Episode Will Teach You:

  • How the political climate in the 90s and 00s shaped millennial identities
  • What millennials see as a threat to their security
  • The by-the-numbers of millennial political affiliation
  • Why it’s so hard for millennials to run for office
  • Millennial morality and social media influence
  • The surprising influence of zero tolerance policies
  • Activism and its pros and cons
  • Where millennials can start to make political change


3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • Sharon and Charlotte start the conversation by discussing how millennials differ from other generations. People form their political identities in early adulthood, and millennials have had several events that shaped their world views, like 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008, Obama’s candidacy and presidential career, as well as major social movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Charlotte’s book, The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For, focuses on the understanding that millennials, as a collective, are the ones who will change and shape the future.
  • Charlotte stresses that we need 21st century leaders for 21st century problems but we’re still running under the “great white man theory of history” and funneling power through a small number of older, white, male leaders who aren’t ready to step aside. Contributing to too few millennials in office are cost--the net worth of the youngest generations has fallen while the cost of political candidacy has risen, the rise of social media--millennials worry about their “digital footprint dirt”, and a rigid morality--millennials were raised with zero tolerance policies and now have a no tolerance policy on political infractions.
  • Lastly, Charlotte and Sharon explore what millennials can do to create the change they want to see. Millennials need to pay attention to state and local races, which are often the first rungs of the political ladder. Millennials often spend their time focusing on national politics and trends, but Charlotte argues that they should focus instead on state politics. Their time, money, and enthusiasm goes a lot further on local and state races, which is where candidate development occurs. Local and state races can be a stepping stone for larger political opportunities in the future.


About the Guest:

Charlotte Alter is a national correspondent for TIME where she covers politics, including the 2016, 2018, and 2020 campaigns. She also writes about youth activism, and the modern spread of disinformation. Her book, The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America, was released in 2020. She lives in New York City with her husband and new baby daughter.


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