On Monday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced his new “Task Force on Millennial Civic Engagement,” following the group’s inaugural meeting last Friday.
According to the press release, “This task force will be charged with coordinating and implementing statewide civic engagement initiatives and fostering the development and growth of a culture of civic engagement within Virginia’s colleges and universities.”
On the surface, this initiative appears to be something I would wholeheartedly support. Those who know me, even in the slightest, know that I am a huge advocate for Millennial civic engagement.
But it appears that McAuliffe is using the Office of the Governor to help promote the next generation of Democratic leadership. Mind you, it is illegal for the Governor to use his official office, not to mention taxpayer funds, for partisan use.
According to Governor McAuliffe, “Virginia millennials will set the course for the future of this Commonwealth. Through this task force, our mission is to find new ways to encourage them to take ownership of their communities and civic institutions”
Remember when Governor Bob McDonnell almost went to prison for allegedly using his position as Governor for the benefit of Jonnie Williams and his company, Star Scientific, Inc.?
Well if people thought that was bad, imagine if McDonnell had started a task force for youth engagement and then stacked it with Young Republicans in an election year?
So if people were up in arms about an abuse of gubernatorial power for the benefit of a company that nobody had even heard of at the time, people are going to go ballistic over a sitting governor abusing his position and power in order to help sway an election.
That is exactly what Governor McAuliffe appears to be doing.
McAuliffe’s task force includes 15 student representatives from different state colleges and universities across the Commonwealth.
In true Millennial fashion, I did some digging on their social media pages and discovered that this group of gubernatorial appointees is overwhelmingly liberal. Out of the 15 student representatives, no less than four are members of the College Democrats, but there is only one College Republican. While the political affiliations of the remaining 10 student representatives is not explicitly identified, an analysis of their social media activity (e.g. Facebook “Likes”, Tweets, Re-Tweets, etc.) suggests that seven of them lean liberal while one leans conservative. The social media activity of the remaining two student representatives does not appear indicative of their political affiliations/leanings.
Yet the unbalanced nature of the Governor’s “Task Force on Millennial Civic Engagement” is not the only qualm I have with it.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials are defined as the generation born between 1982 and 2000. By this definition, Millennials are currently aged between 17 and 35 years old. But Governor McAuliffe’s “Task Force for Millennial Civic Engagement” is limited to college representatives. This coming fall, most of the student population on Virginia’s college campuses were born between 1996 and 2000, making them relatively young Millennials. So if Governor McAuliffe truly wants to increase Millennial Civic Engagement, why did he limit his task force to such a small portion of a much larger and more diverse generation?
Many Millennials are older than the average college student today, so why aren’t their voices being included in the Governor’s initiative?
What about the Millennials who are currently in the workforce, at home raising families, or keeping our nation safe by serving in our armed forces? What about the Millennials who are struggling to pay off their student loan debt, find good-paying jobs after graduation, afford the rising costs of housing, and pay their healthcare premiums? Then what about the voices of Millennials who are not currently attending or have never attended college in the first place?
Restricting Millennial representation on a so-called “Millennial” task force to college students suggests that Governor McAuliffe either has a very narrow-minded view on a much larger generation or has ulterior motives. College students tend to make up a significant portion of campaign volunteers, so the timing of this Millennial civic engagement initiative is highly suspect with the 2017 statewide campaigns in full-swing.
So does Terry McAuliffe truly want to build an “inclusive Commonwealth” by helping fostering civic engagement among the Millennial generation? Or does he simply want Virginia tax-payers to fund the Democratic Party’s 2017 GOTV operations?
If the latter, Virginia may soon find itself embroiled in its second high-profile corruption case featuring a Virginia Governor.