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A Student's Final Thoughts On The Presidential Race And The Youth Vote

Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

What are we really doing when we absentmindedly and robotically recite the Pledge of Allegiance in our middle school homeroom class? We are not answering to Big Brother, although it does sometimes seem like that—our teacher glaring at us nefariously if we skip a verse or two, and the constancy with which we did so every morning.

In fact, we are revering our country—our country that has evolved from a series of colonies into a free, independent nation. History class teaches us about the structure of the American government, and teachers and parents remind us that we are “so lucky” to live in this democratic nation. Yet we don’t fully grasp this mystical privilege we have been born into while we sing to the loudspeaker in homeroom. Most of us cannot fully grasp how blessed we are until we turn 18, and finally get the opportunity to have a say in the direction our country takes.

This presidential race is centered around persuasion, harsh rhetoric, and undercutting, backstabbing advertisements. It has been a dirty, muddy race in the final days. It’s important to remember the initial platforms and to remember the candidates before mudslinging politics forced them into a WWA wrestling match. We have the opportunity to steer this country in 2012 as a nation, but more specifically, as a strong group of American youths.

The fact that over twice as many seniors voted as young adults in 2000 is appalling and disappointing. Although youth voter turnout has increased since 2000 (49 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in 2008), this country has yet to see an electrified generation of young voters. Why are elderly people more inspired by promises of “hope” and change and moving forward than the demographic that is the future?

In 2008, polls showed that young people were overwhelmingly supportive of Obama and the Democratic party. In 2010, polls showed that young people were still supportive of Obama and the Democrats, but only 20.9 percent of them bothered to vote in the Senatorial elections, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. This caused Democrats to lose Senate and House seats across the country.

It is a consequence of both Obama and Romney not appealing directly to the youth vote, as much as it is an issue of youth apathy.

A lot of collegiate voting apathy seems to arise from the feeling that “my vote doesn’t count.” But the point is really to get those ballots in, to get the youth voting statistics up—to prove that the next generation is capable of raising the standards in America, of caring about issues that will actually materialize in their lifetime.

If you are someone like me who likes to see tangible change, then you should invest yourself in the local elections. Take pride in voting for that judge in your county court back home, knowing that he will improve the school system or make sweeping changes in towns in desperate need of order.

The state senate elections are also vital. It takes only a few minutes of research online (or the click of a button on the TV remote) to differentiate the senators’ different proposals and stances on the big issues and to learn about what they would do if elected. Senators, with the power to propose laws and block legislation, are what really make the wheels on democracy churn.

Put effort into voting for senators that you believe can carry your voice and materialize your desires into actual legislation. If they win, you can reap the benefits of the law that you indirectly helped to pass.

If even only one of the bubbles you scribble in on your ballot is victorious in this election, you have made a difference. It’s what the founding fathers wanted for us and what the revolutionaries fought so tenaciously for. So I challenge you: take that blue pen off your desk and scribble in some circles, because apathy is utterly incompatible with progress.


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