MILLENNIALS election map issues

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Michael Skolnik, editor of, encourages the millennial generation to vote

Some say women, the unemployed or swing states will decide the presidential election

Skolnik argues that millennials have the power to sway the election results if they show up

Editor’s Note: To many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, the millennial generation is a mystery. These 18- to 29-year-olds are history’s very first “always connected” generation, defined by all their phones and gadgets, and they’ve been accused of being overly entitled. The series “Millennials: A Generation Revealed” takes an eye-opening look at this group of Americans coming into their own, what they want out of life, and how they plan to get it.

CNN  — 

We grew up in project buildings. We grew up at the end of cul-de-sacs. We grew up five miles from the nearest house. We grew up in America. We come from backgrounds of luxury and struggle. We finished school with honors, and we dropped out. We voted for the first time, and we only just registered. We didn’t understand red states or blue states. We understood that these are the United States.

And as a generation, we millennials must be united in the fact that the collective power we possess will allow us to do great things for this country that we call our home. We must show this power en masse on Election Day, one vote by one vote.

Millennials to candidates: Talk to us

Michael Skolnik

We are bombarded with television analysis, newspaper opinions, blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, radio commentators and street corner preachers that all offer some perspective about who will decide the election between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Over the course of months, this commentary puts the power in the hands of various constituencies. Seniors in Florida. Independent women in New Hampshire. The unemployed in Ohio. Every day, some new group gets handed the magic wand that will choose the winner of this year’s battle.

Opinion: Why this election is so personal

But, let me be straight. The battle begins with millennials, those much-maligned 18-to 29-year olds for whom so much is at stake. For this is our future.

The future arrived yesterday, and the present presents us with an opportunity to dream big. Dreams that in reality will uplift our entire generation, not just a percentage of us. Dreams that are so deeply rooted in compassion, that there is no way we leave anyone behind.

The undecided millennial

Our dreams from last night become our marching orders as we awake to the understanding that this election will be decided by millions of young people, our people, in states across this country. In Durham, North Carolina, a young woman will cast her ballot for the first time. In Columbus, Ohio, a university student will be the first in his family to vote in a presidential election. In Tallahassee, Florida, a young couple will enter that voting both for the second time in their lives, this time not just voting for themselves but voting for their child.

Both campaigns have simplified their efforts to focus on 10 swing states. They will spend millions of dollars over the next few weeks targeting those states, as well as undecided voters. But some of us are not included in that game plan. Some of us were left off the roll call. You know what means?

‘Gen Xer’ Ryan makes case to young voters

That means, like Muhammad Ali said, we have the chance to shake up the world. Show them who is the greatest. Not just of this time, but of all time. Show up in numbers that no one can believe. Early votes. Absentee ballots. Election Day decisions. However you have to pull that lever, pull it. For this is our future.

It is our brothers and sisters who are the ones coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq, many of whom feel like we have let them down. It is our colleges that are becoming too expensive for us to attend, leaving us with monthly payments that empty our bank accounts. It is our compadres who are impacted by the DREAM Act and want only to live without fear in a country they, too, call their home. It is our Medicare and Social Security that might disappear before we even make it to the finish line. It is our boyfriends and girlfriends who just want to walk down the aisle and say two simple words: “I do.” It is our planet that is being destroyed by big business and politicians with oily pockets lined with dirty coal. This is what is at stake. Not just an election to elect a president but an election to elect the destiny of our generation.

Have the youth given up on Obama?

So, let us promise to each other that we will not sit this one out. We will not watch this one pass us by. We will not move on to the next one. We will cast our ballots like our generation depended on it. For if we depend on one another, we will be united. Not in red states or blue states, but in the United States of America.

Michael Skolnik is the editor-in-chief of and the political director to Russell Simmons. He is also an award-winning filmmaker. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelSkolnik.

Are you a millennial who will stay away from the polls this year? Or are you raring to vote? Share your take in the comments section below.