The 2008 election was an exciting time for America, including its youth. Regardless of whether you voted Democrat or Republican, you couldn’t help but feel energized about the upcoming four years.
But the tide has turned this election. America’s youth are not as enthusiastic. They’re not putting in the effort and ultimately they will not vote.
There are a few reasons for this. The most important is that some young adults don’t care. Ignorance is everywhere.
Alexa Jordan, CLU marketing communication major, believes that this ignorance has nothing to do with the candidates, but that it is a fundamental problem with youth in general.
“They don’t go out and educate themselves on the current issues of each candidate,” said Jordan. “But what is there to get excited about? How do we convince our fellow classmates and friends that they should care? You can’t force someone to be interested in politics.”
According to a recent article in The Republic, young adults who aren’t married, don’t have a lot of money and don’t own their own home are less likely to vote because they don’t carry a heavy burden of responsibility. But this shouldn’t sway young adults.
The very fact that 50 percent of college graduates can’t find a job should make us care.
Jordan also believes that part of the problem is that youth don’t think their vote will matter. So young adults ask themselves, why bother? We should bother because our lives are at stake. Our future. Our careers. Our healthcare. Our retirement.
So many young people refrain from voting, yet they are quick to pour on the blame. It’s easy and understandable to feel frustrated about the current economic situation, about how few jobs are available to college graduates, about how most of us will graduate with thousands of dollars of debt.
We worry about how we are going to pay back our loans and what will happen to us after graduation day. Trust me, it freaks me out.
Sophomore Mollie Winninger believes that it is our duty to vote if we are unhappy with the current situation.
“I figured I can’t complain about the situation America is in and our current president if I don’t vote,” said Winninger.
Winninger puts the work in by paying attention to the issues, watching coverage of the campaign, and taking into consideration what the economy will do to her future.
Winninger will vote because she feels she has a responsibility.
However, politically-minded students like Winninger are rare. A recent Gallup poll showed that only 58 percent of people age 18-29 will vote. That’s 20 points below the 78 percent national average. What’s happening to the other 42 percent?
Political science major Nick Lopez thinks that it has to do with today’s youth.
“Young people aren’t voting because they aren’t as concerned or pay attention to politics as much as the older generations did,” said Lopez. “They believe that their vote doesn’t matter or that their voice won’t be heard.”
I can understand that argument as a 20-year-old Republican living in Southern California.
Obviously, my vote for president won’t make much of a difference. However, young people forget that local elections are just as important in shaping our country, and that even the act of voting itself means that you are willing to pay attention and make a difference.
When I walk into the polling booth in Los Angeles and cast my vote for Gov. Romney, it will be more of a symbolic gesture to me than it is about changing the election.
But I can change who comes into office on the local level, the ones who will work to protect and grow my community and ultimately provide me with a better future.
I care, I pay attention, and so I will do my part. Maybe it is because I happen to adore politics, but I also think those who don’t should still be open minded and politically active. We just can’t afford not to be.
Some argue that the reason youth do not vote is because they feel they are not included in the issues. President Obama changed the way campaigns were run when he used social media to spread his beliefs in 2008.
His campaign created a Tumblr page. It was fresh, new and catered to young voters. It gave us easy access to the information.
We don’t see that as much now. Young people feel disengaged, but they need to realize that getting our country economically stable again is more important than the attractiveness of social media, or how “cool” a campaign is. I know we often see campaigns as just another beauty pageant, but we should look deeper.
We need to change the way we see the world. Maybe society needs to raise children differently. Maybe we need to teach the importance of voting in schools. We learn all about history, the wars we’ve fought and the policies of great presidents before us, but maybe we need to emphasize how those presidents got there, how young voters made a difference and ultimately changed the world.
We are privileged to live in a country where we can make choices. We have the power to choose who is elected to office, what policies should go through and what kind of country we want to live in. I think to ignore this fact is a terrible thing.
I think youth would be doing themselves an injustice if they chose to ignore the issues and not vote. I don’t care who you vote for. Just educate yourself and allow your voice to be heard.
Read up on the issues, watch the debates, and register to vote. You can do so here: sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm.
Published Oct. 17, 2012