The Outsiders: How Can Millennials Change Washington If They Hate It?

Of course, young Americans tend to like the GOP even less. That’s why a plurality of Millennials (45 percent) describes their affiliation as independent this year, an increase of 6 points just since 2008. Winograd and Hais predict that the next generation of voters will reject traditional liberalism and conservatism. “The Millennial civic ethos,” they wrote, “will instead allow for both consensus and customization.”

Diggles agreed: “This tension -- two parties thinking they are in the trenches dueling it out, and a burgeoning generation who reject trench warfare altogether is, for me, the key. Washington doesn’t get that change isn’t just a slogan. It’s about to become a reality.”

“Neither party,” she said, “gets what’s coming down the pike.”

What’s coming are kids like Shayan, the keen-minded Langley High senior who laughed at my question about public service. “Let me tell you what’s going to happen to government and politics when we get ahold of them.” he told me. “We’ll destroy them.”

Shayan paused to let me stew on that a bit before shrugging his shoulders as if to tell this Baby Boom reporter: It’s not the end of the world, old man -- just the end of your world. “The thing about social institutions is when you destroy them,” Shayan said, “they get rebuilt eventually, in a different form for a different time.”

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Ron Fournier is editorial director of National Journal.

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