APPLETON - Millennials might be killing off chain restaurants, home-buying, department stores and golf, but one thing they're not ready to let go of just yet? Good, old-fashioned bipartisanship.
Appleton Democrat Rep. Amanda Stuck, 34, and Pewaukee Republican Rep. Adam Neylon, 32, are the bipartisan chairs of a newly formed millennial caucus, dubbed the Wisconsin Future Caucus, where 20 or so Assembly lawmakers under the age of 40 can find some common ground.
In an interview with USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, Stuck said they're in the early stages so it's hard to predict what will come of the caucus, but she's hopeful they can focus on issues that are more a "generational divide" than a partisan divide. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
1. How did you get involved in this caucus?
A former colleague of mine in the Assembly, Mandela Barnes, is now working with groups across the country, like the Millennial Action Project, and recommended my name to them as a good candidate to lead this effort up in Wisconsin. He recommended my name and in my talks with the group, Rep. Adam Neylon came up as someone on the Republican side who is seen as a leader and as someone who works well across the aisle. So we thought we'd make a good team.
2. What do you hope comes out of it?
I think we'd really like to see some policy move forward and show that millennials can work across the aisle and not just focus on the partisan issues that keep people divided, to work on issues that are less divisive.
3. What issues can millennial lawmakers find agreement on?
So we're still in the early stages to see what comes out of this. A lot of things we thought we could work on are entrepreneurship issues, knowing that Wisconsin is dead last in business startups. Certainly, when we talk to young entrepreneurs who say they left Wisconsin to start their business, that's not a Republican or Democratic issue. So how do we keep them here? We're also looking at things like driver-less cars, robotics; technology is huge. Those are some of the issues that are more a generational divide than a party divide that we can help move forward.
4. How do you and your millennial colleagues approach your jobs similarly or different to more of the "old guard" in the Legislature?
I think there's a couple of things. The longer you're in the Legislature, and in elected office, sometimes arguments become more personal ... versus being newer and focusing on the issues. We don't have some of that history as younger lawmakers with other folks, so it's not as personal.
In general terms, millennials are not focused so much on the social issues, like LGBT issues — things that for so long divided people. There's more agreement there so we can move past some of those issues and not get stuck on these social issues.
5. How do young people get more involved in politics?
Part of the thing is that we know more and more young people don't look at public service as something they want to get involved in. They don't see it as a career choice because they have a negative image of it. So we're hoping to say, 'Look, perhaps some of the people that came before us didn't do the best job on how we can work across the aisle and didn't focus on the issues. But if you want that to change, you want better leadership and change, you have to get involved.