Sydney Erhardt

Sydney Erhardt is a junior at Cannon Falls High School in rural Minnesota. Competitively debating and speaking on foreign affairs for the past few years instigated an immediate interest in political policy and the daily governmental workings around her. She can be reached at

Is Millennial synonymous with sloth?

Posted by: Sydney Erhardt under Society, Government, Politics Updated: April 23, 2014 - 4:59 PM

          “The sloth is the spirit animal of the Millennial generation”- that’s the title of a Buzzfeed article from July, 2013. They weren’t wrong. Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) take immense pleasure in thrilling mid-afternoon naps but don’t we all? Time Magazine issued some broad descriptions: “They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional.” But they don’t always drag around their three-toes, Generation Y is a better generation than what it’s perceived to be. Politics, economics and technology are all trees that every Millennial has climbed once or twice. Of course, some were faster than others.

            Politics are more laid back to Millennials who are active participants in government both at the local and national level. The only difference really is that they are just more likely to let go of personal liberties for the security of their “me me me” generation. Discovery concluded that these sentiments came from defining moments in their lives like the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 9/11, and the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings. These events alone make them a generation of awareness.

             After frequent job hopping and low retention rates, employers have long been frustrated by Millennials who have now been dubbed as “boomerangs.” They literally leave home, go to college and end up right back in their parents basements. It’s no fault of their own though. Market research firm, Pace Communications, proposed that most have endured crushing student loans and high unemployment rates leaves them without much choice in the matter. Delayed adulthood is only occurring because as a nation Americans have suffered the worst economic market since the Great Depression.

When Millennials become consumers, however, they are incredibly conscientious. Pew Research Polls found that most try to reduce driving times for the sake of carbon emissions, they’re willing to buy “green-friendly” products even if they are more expensive, and companies that support a social cause are especially targeted by Generation Y. Matt Bors, Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning, says that Millennials were invited to the party last and served up crumbs. Which they’ll proudly Instagram before they eat.

            Millennials cannot be torn from their devices but there are positive aspects to their many connections. Global technology is radically changing because of high demand for an even faster connection. Attracted to corporations who embrace the digital world they could be the most significant faction leading the Technological Revolution of the Twenty-First Century. Their emojis really are worth a thousand words at this point.

            Perception of this generation of Americans has been increasingly more negative in recent years, portraying every kid taking an innocent selfie as a vapid narcissist. Maybe the critics are the ones who should loosen up their skinny jeans a bit more. Sloths can be our spirit animal if we let it. Buzzfeed continues, “We are the Millennial Generation. We are sloths. And we’re going nowhere fast.”

“Unwalkable” Health Care

Posted by: Sydney Erhardt under Government, Politics Updated: February 20, 2014 - 12:17 PM

When asked why they didn’t exercise more, 40% of Americans, according to a recent GfK report, responded by labeling their neighborhood as “unwalkable.” Scarcity of nearby walkable destinations was the second most often cited reason for not walking. Ironically, Gallup Polls concluded that almost the same percentage of American youth have no familiarity with the new health care law. Although 73% of U.S. citizens know that they should be walking more for their health, not as many know how Obamacare could affect them in the future.

A disorganized inauguration of the website leaves 2014 as a time for reformation. Democrats are left hoping that after a year of progress millions more Americans would be insured with privatized plans and expanded Medicaid. However, almost 5 million people have had their preexisting policies cancelled due to plan requirements. Part of this hope will be in the Millennials as their enrollment will subsidize the expenses of the older recipients. So far, just shy of a quarter of Obamacare sign-ups have been in the demographic of 18-35 years old.

The other primary target group for the health care law is low-income individuals. Not unexpectedly, Generation Y’s uninsured 25 year olds have an average income of $17,800. Though many have questioned how stable younger memberships will be, analysts concur that rates of Millennial acceptance will continue strongly despite the amount of the population that is uniformed.

Some in the health and exercise survey commented that “walkability” of a neighborhood was an influential factor in property sales saying that it implied a “high density” area. “Not familiar” with the health care plan might now imply that these “young invincible” haven’t taken their stroll around the block with this critical legislation.

Who is God of the global economy?

Posted by: Sydney Erhardt under Government, Politics Updated: November 30, 2013 - 8:49 PM

"A new survey shows that 1 in 5 Americans believe that God steers the economy. Mystery solved: God is Chinese." –Conan O'Brien

                As true as this appears to be with public perception of the U.S.-Chinese relations over the past few years, statistic proves there is another “god” of the global economy.

                Generation Opportunity, the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization in the United States, engaging and mobilizing citizens (ages 18-29) on important economic issues, released a poll in 2012.  It found that “71% of young Americans are concerned that so many American jobs are going to foreign competitors like China.” It cites additionally that “76% of Millennials view China as a danger: 48% as an economic threat.” This is mainly because of the cheap cost of overseas labor and strict regulations on businesses, coupled with the lack of room for expansion or start-ups.

                While the sentiment against Chinese economic growth continues to rise today, the United States and China both seem to have taken hits against their manufacturing sector. An article in Bloomberg Business calculates that between the years of 2002 and 2013 total jobs in the manufacturing index fell at 15%. In that same time, U.S. factory employment decreased 11%. The same article quotes that even though the job opportunities here at home seem to be outsourced to China, “China sure is doing a lousy job of holding on to them.”

                The loss of Chinese and U.S. jobs could account for the job gains of five other countries in the list of the top twenty world economies. Joe Carson, director of economic research at Alliance Capital Management, investigated this concluding that Canada, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan, and the Philippines all showed an increase in manufacturing jobs in recent years.  Perhaps the 23% of unemployed youth should shift their focus off of China and turn to alternative explanations that match the analysis found over the past few years. After all, Daniel in the Bible writes “…people who do know their god shall be strong...”


Soldiers of Tomorrow's Syria

Posted by: Sydney Erhardt under Government, Politics Updated: September 16, 2013 - 7:22 AM

Three years ago the average age for a soldier active in the United States army was twenty two. Two years ago it was twenty one and last year it was just twenty years old (US Army). The men and women who are fighting overseas for our country are getting progressively younger leaving the current Millennial generation as the targeted enlisters for America’s wars. While Iraq and Afghanistan may seem like wars of the past, youth voters will also be soldiers in the wars of the future-  the ground first, guns representing their generation at the front line.. That could now include Syria.

The President’s proponents for striking Syria remain lacking with considerable amounts of opposition even after his address to garner the public support. He attempted to assure many that only after every option for negotiation was explored he would only strike Syria if it was strategically necessary for our national security. “Surging” disapproval still persevered through the compelling speech in 18-29 year olds whose anti-military action sentiment grew from 49% to 64% in a one week period (Pew).

Massive protests against military action still continue as the nation questions whether or not a “pin prick” strike will lead to immediate relief for Syrian citizens, higher tensions from Russia, or perhaps a new war in the Middle East. Whatever the end result, the opinion will be shown in the 2016 elections. The fighting of tomorrow’s conflicts will be done by the youth voters of today, many at the front lines with their guns and boots on the ground first representing their generation’s struggles.

U.S. Army Statistic:

Pew Research Poll:

An Expanding Electorate: Connecting Government to a Critical Perspective

Posted by: Sydney Erhardt under Government, Politics Updated: August 24, 2013 - 12:27 PM

Ronald Reagan said that we should hand freedom down to our children, John Quincy Adams instructed us to prosper from our history, FDR predicted that we would rendezvous with destiny, and Kennedy thought that our nation could cultivate the best of mankind. This is what the leaders of our government have been striving for with every piece of legislation, every declaration and every speech. “We wonder,” stipulated Paul Ryan at a town hall meeting, “if we will be the first generation in American history to leave our children with fewer opportunities and a less prosperous nation than the one we inherited.” The answer to our worries is a simple one- we listen.

Democracy is a contribution of all voices. Currently, the expectation for political contribution from younger generations is startlingly low. Therefore, many youth voters feel alienated (33%) by elected officials when a majority of them (88%) were registered to vote and have voted in national elections (Hamilton College Study). What these 18-24 year olds stated held the most influence when filling out their ballot was, in fact, the issues. However, when candidates construct their platforms around the American public there appears to be a correlating increase in these younger factions’ feelings of alienation. A voice in our democracy could soon be lost.

The aim of An Expanding Electorate will be to represent Generation Y as the intelligent, cultured, and politically active group that they are. Interviewing high school students can discover the untapped opinions and ideas of a key demographic that will, one day, be the leaders of our country. If we discuss the issues surrounding Washington and the thoughts of underrepresented American citizens we will, as a nation, come together as our founding father intended and form a true democracy.


Hamilton College Study:



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