The 2012 election was game changing for America, producing groundbreaking shifts involving social issues, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, and recreational marijuana use, and historical milestones for women in politics. The increased participation of young voters – who are typically characterized by more liberal views on social issues - has clearly influenced public opinion and will inevitably lead to deepening changes in future policies.
Same-sex marriage initiatives scored victories in three of four states — Maine, Maryland, and Washington. According to Matthew Segal, co-founder and president of the millennial advocacy group Our Time, the millennial generation is the most diverse group in American history and believes deeply in social equality. This generation flexed their muscles in Maryland, where youth (meaning 18 to 29?) comprised 19% of all voters. The election of Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator in United States history, also signals that the broader electorate is embracing diversity and LGBT equality.
Youth turnout also helped legalize recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado, marking a historic turning point in the slow-growing acceptance of marijuana usage. The passage of Amendment 64 and the resulting legalization of marijuana possession and sales are expected to impact the public sector in the form of reduced crime rates and increased tax revenues. Yet more intriguing are the new opportunities it opens up in the private sector, particularly for venture capital and private equity investments. Companies focused on this emerging industry are experiencing rapid expansion as the regulatory environment becomes more favorable. GrowLife Inc. (PHOT), Hemp Inc. and Medical Marijuana Inc. have all seen heightened attention in recent weeks and are now positioned to increase their leadership in this sector, and the investment community has a ready-made opportunity to ride the wave. The effort to expand legalization of marijuana defies a federal push to crack down on the industry, and we will be watching the federal government reaction to the state-level legalization.
This election was also a big win for women. After Heidi Heitcamp’s defeat of Rick Berg in North Dakota, the number of women elected to the U.S. Senate increased to 20, marking the most senate seats women have ever held. New Hampshire became the first state to have an all-female congressional delegation in United States history.
In Hawaii, Japan-born Mazie Hirono became the first Asian American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, while Tulsi Gabbard became the first-ever practicing Hindu in the U.S. House of Representatives. A Senate populated by more women will prevent anti-female legislation from gaining traction and provide an important check against a male-dominated legislature taking over women’s health and family planning decisions.
This year’s historic election has underlined the importance of the youth vote, and the resulting societal changes will affect many facets of our society. To discover additional implications of transformative shifts happening within our traditional social structures, read our New Social Systems Content Network Deep Dive Report.
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