Political columnist Ron Fournier told the gathering at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference that America and the world are witnessing an era of unprecedented change for which their institutions are unprepared. In his presentation, Fournier sought to connect the success of politicians such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to the maturing generation of so-called millennials.
A former Detroiter, Fournier currently writes for the influential National Journal in Washington DC. He conjectured those millennials as a group is the major agent of change currently on the scene. He said that presumptive Republican nominee Trump is "just the beginning" of a radical shift in the structures of institutions such as political parties.
Speaking June 2 on beautiful Mackinac Island, he said that even if neither of their favorites -- Trump and Sanders -- is chosen in the upcoming Republican and Democratic party conventions, they will return to vote in future elections. "Until we have fundamental, structural change until we fix things from the bottom up and revive our institution, we're going to continually have this political unrest," Fournier said.
The current political unrest is engendered by millennials, Fournier said. Millenials are pragmatic, he said, but also optimistic despite obstacles such as repaying student debt, finding lucrative employment after finishing their education, and hard economic realities. Fournier said that young people of today are able to build consensus through global connections and thus embrace change. They are thus less connected to institutions and political ideologies, but seek to work for organizations and businesses, and buy products, that are somehow "authentically a part of something bigger than themselves."
These millennials are a "young, electronically armed populace with a purpose" and are to be found in Michigan, poised to restore decrepit Detroit to a metropolis greater than it ever was. He also claimed, "I think Detroit's best days are still ahead of us." he said. After the 2016 presidential election, Fournier plans to return to Detroit to be a part of the change he expects to see there.