Millennials are like ants. We may be classified as “small” players because we’re still finding our footing in the professional world. Our paychecks are generally smaller, our Netflix binges are generally longer, and within some demographics we have a reputation as self-absorbed children who would rather get high and drink away our parents money than form serious opinions about economic issues. But ants find power in numbers. Much like a swarm of ants can literally consume a living person as they flail helplessly (at least that’s what they do in jungle-themed horror flicks) so can we “narcissistic youths” make a difference.
The millennial vote is a priceless commodity. With elections coming up, I’ve put together a list of 5 stratagems guaranteed to get 20-somethings to the polls. For the sake of morality, I shall assume that neither party will claim these election-winning incentives as their own. But then, that might just be my Gen Y naiveté.
Nothing makes a party like some really sweet favors. Stuff reusable shopping bags with enviable booty, like Reese's Cups, condoms, and tiny bottles of liqueur. Advertise this incentive on every social media platform and dole out one bag per voter. Anyone who’s anyone will make it a point to be there, and to share their swag selfies via Snap-story.
Win a Day with Beyoncé
With all due respect, who’s really calling the shots around here? If the options are the Commander in Chief vs Queen Bey, I don’t think any politician wants to hear the answer. Because she’s universally adored, raffling off a chance to spend the day with this feminist force is guaranteed to up poll attendance. Sweeten the honey pot by adding specific activities on the itinerary. Since the “Feeling Myself” video dropped, all any of us want to do is eat a burger while linking elbows with the Global Empress.
Twice the Tweetage
There’s no stronger punch to the gut than the realization that your witty, perfectly worded tweet comes in at 150-some characters. We millennials are all too familiar with the red-zone woes. Strike a deal with Twitter and give every voter a coupon code to up their character-allowance to 280. Two times the tweet power, especially if it lasts the full four years, will make a bigger difference than you’d think.
Dock the Shipped
At the risk of inciting a bloodbath, here’s the strategy most likely to pit party against party. Shipping, as I have oft-explained to my parents and older relations, is the act of rooting for a relationship. These relationships can be between actual people or, more often, between fictional characters. Shipping can be viscerally upsetting, especially when a show or movie refuses to give you a happy ending or even a taste of contentment. If, say, the showrunner of Sherlock agreed to finally unite Holmes and Molly Hooper pending a certain turnout at the polls, I would likely drive shuttles between retirement homes and voting stations myself. The obvious issue that could arise would be showrunners guaranteeing results only in the case of victory for one candidate or the other. While millennials are intelligent and logical, fandoms are united by passion. The passion of the fandom is a beautiful thing, but also a dangerous force. We do not, I repeat, DO NOT want to set the Whovians against the GoT addicts. United we stand, divided we LARP a little too aggressively.
The Pizza Party
I estimate that 98% of college graduates have studied Pavlov’s dogs, so most of us recognize that conditioning is a powerful thing. In elementary, middle, even high schools across the country, one incentive has proved its worth time and time again: The Pizza Party. For Gen Y, The Pizza Party is a source of joy and nostalgia. It was a reason to complete summer reading challenges, to sell the most wrapping paper for the holiday fundraiser, and to collect the most box tops. Today, The Pizza Party can be raffled off at each individual voting location or be shared with all attendees as their post-polling treat. Either way, just hearing that phrase in all its delicious alliteration is sure to trigger a Pavlovian response.
Viva La Pizza Party, viva la USA.
***photo from the fab Gabrielle Cuadra***