Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Young Voters and the Future of America

As I’ve obsessively followed this year’s presidential election, I’ve been surprised on a number of occasions. I was surprised when Mitt Romney, a man hailed for his faith and integrity, was the first Republican candidate to run a negative ad campaign in Iowa. I was surprised at how fast Rudy Guiliani’s front-runner status disintegrated. I was surprised (and pleasantly, I might add) that Barack Obama was able to win 11 contests in a row while simultaneously taking the delegate lead away from Hillary Clinton. But a statistic that has surprised and continues to surprise is the fact that young voters are picking themselves up by the bootstraps after being trodden upon by critics and cynics alike for the last 50+ years, and are making their voices heard by Washington and the rest of the country.

Examining our current national status, I think it’s safe to say that things are ugly. American politics are riddled with scandal, dishonesty and corruption. One would be lucky to turn the TV or radio on without learning of another elected official or Washington bigwig trapped in a web of their own lies. We’re mired in a foreign policy blunder that is sadly rivaling the Vietnam War, and the economy is crisis. To say that the political scene in America is bleak would be an understatement.

And yet, despite this obvious tribulation, there is something uncharacteristically comforting about the state of the union and its future: young people. Yes, young people; the hippies, the gas station employees, the struggling college students and the Fulbright scholars. They are the sliver of sunshine in an overcast political arena.

See, there are lots of us out there, and for the most part we're pretty opinionated. But for as far back as records of our demographic have been kept, we've been underrepresented and written off (justifiably so) by politicians and pundits. But no one can now deny that young voters aren't pulling their weight.

Some people think it's Obama's speeches, others think it's to make sure Hillary doesn't win. Who cares. I pat all of them on the back for dusting off their voting hat and throwing it back into the ring.

1 comment:

skippyn8 said...

Last Fall I volunteered for my local county clerk's office to help register people to vote. Being a student I focused on young voters. I believe I registered about 6-7 people . I recall only about half actually voting. The most ironic thing that after helping others register, I didn't vote. I made a radio essay about the experience:Radio Essay