This May, my vote will go to the party that is looking to our future instead of our past, is willing to adapt to the social and economic ideals that are moving us forward and ensures our province will be ready for the world yet to come.
NO HOME FOR MILLENIAL VOTERS LIKE ME IN THE ALBERTA 2023 ELECTION
Millennials v Boomers
The Millennial voting block (ages 26 – 41), which includes me, is the largest and most powerful in the coming Alberta 2023 election. We outnumber Boomers (ages 58 – 76) – 23.3% versus 21.4%. We outnumber Gen X (ages 42 – 57) – 23.3% versus 19.8%.
We are gaining strength and purchasing power as we start to move up the ladder. Owning property is within our reach – or already grasped. We have young kids – or we will soon. Daycare, education, mortgage rates, and financial planning is on our radar. Some of us grew up in Alberta and never left, others moved here seeking opportunity and affordability. Unlike Gen Z (ages 18 – 25), Millennials have grown up enough, and have enough irons in the fire, that we will show up at the polls on election day.
Millennials have a different outlook relative to Boomers. We are respectful of Alberta’s conservative roots and of the historic importance of Alberta’s oil and gas sector, and yet we are more progressive because of our upbringing. We were raised after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we have only ever known peace. We did not have to deal with the Cold War and the related hardships faced by Boomers. And yet many of us have become adults during the 2008 Financial Crisis and one of Alberta’s deepest and longest recessions.
We have become highly specialized. We have multiple advanced degrees, skills, and qualifications that would have opened many doors 40 years ago. Compared to Boomers, we are more innovative, better with technology, and keener to try new things. We were raised during an explosion of technological advancement. We had an iPhone in one hand and a lunchbox in the other. Unlike Gen Z, we remember both before and after Facebook, and can appreciate both the new and the old.
Millennials voters like me are conservative and progressive at the same time, in different aspects of our lives. There is no party in the Alberta 2023 Election that responds to my nuances as a voter. Anywhere I cast my vote feels like a compromise, in one way or another.
I prefer the conservative-leaning parties including the UCP, Alberta Party, and Wildrose (the “Conservatives”) when it comes to economic policies. Perhaps it’s just branding, but they come across as the safer choice when it comes to governing the economy and safeguarding the budget. As a Millennial, I am entering the housing market, investing, and starting to feel the burn of income tax. Public debt, inflation, and rising mortgage rates are very alarming to me. I want to see business thrive and prefer the Conservative outlook on taxation. As a born-and-raised Albertan, I do not want to see our energy sector wiped out by environmental policy and the pain that would cause to tens of thousands of energy workers. Compared to progressive-leaning parties, the Conservatives have done a better job of convincing me they would manage the ‘energy transition’ responsibly.
Still, I find they are too conservative in areas where I want them to be more progressive. There are nuances between fiscal and social conservatism that seem to be lost on them. Not everyone is trying to sell them snake oil. Conservatives should be quicker to try new things – in areas like technology adoption, communications, branding, and societal change – while remaining cautious and diligent with the economy. Conservatives should accept that some social issues are better left alone. Millennial voters like me do not want to revisit issues including abortion or women’s rights that have been settled for decades. There are other hills to die on.
I prefer the progressive parties including the NDP, Liberals, and Greens (the “Progressives”) on their open-mindedness. Even where they adopt policies and join factions that I disagree with, I admire their foresight and speed in adapting to new trends. The Progressives have a certain agility, like a tech start-up or an entrepreneur. They know that it’s easier to turn a small ship than a large one, and they are quick to try new things. They are effective at communications and technology adoption. They have been successful in getting Gen Z to adopt their views on progressive causes including climate change, abortion, gun rights, taxation, and affordability. One of their biggest successes has been the spread of the green movement, which forced Alberta’s oil sector to put the brakes on growth. The Conservative counteroffensive was years too late, with the damage already done, and 100,000 jobs lost in Alberta alone.
There is a substantial cohort of voters who are progressively minded, and yet are reluctant to vote Progressive. Where they lose us is in their all-or-nothing approach to ideology, as well as their wholesale adoption of cultural Marxism. We do not like the ‘either you’re with me, or you’re against me’ attitude of many of the factions that the Progressives have taken into their tent. We are cautious to move steadfast to the left and are criticized for taking our time and considering our interests. We feel compelled to do things we are uncomfortable with and are prevented from raising counterpoints. Voters like me would appreciate and take notice if Progressive parties were better able to delineate between the good and the bad of social progression, rather than adopting all of it with a wide net.
The bottom line: Millennial voters like me want to cast our vote for a party that recognizes our complexities as a voter. All the parties in the Alberta 2023 Election miss the mark in one way or another. The Conservative parties have a good handle on the economy, and yet they move at a snail’s pace in areas where I want them to be more progressive. The Progressive parties are good at trying new things, but they have gone so far left on social issues that it feels like a slippery slope. The party that can execute the correct combination of candidates, policies, and priorities has my vote in the coming election. It will be the party that recognizes that the path to victory is compromise and moving to the center.
Julian Dobre is the founder of Polity and a technology & media lawyer at Donna Purcell QC Law. He has degrees in sociology, law, and business from the University of Calgary.
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