Every election year, a crisis seems to rear its ugly head, staring us all right in the face, daring us to take action. Every election year, we hear the same depressing story, over, and over again. Like a broken record, the needle just keeps skipping, replaying the same doom story. Every election year, we hear the demographic voting data, and every year, we hear how poorly the 18-24 year old bracket did with voter turnout.
It’s sad, really. The future fails to care about the present time and time again. Sure, there are those of us who genuinely care, care not only about which candidate seems “cooler,” but care how their foreign policy stance will affect the country long-term, or how their economic plan details success. But let’s face it. Those people are not the majority, never have been, and probably never will be. Not just in the aforementioned “youth” bracket, but every single age demographic in the country seems to be in large part uninformed, and if they the don’t fall into that boat, then they often take propaganda they hear and act as if it was written in stone, making them misinformed, often stubbornly so.
What can a nation do when its foundational aspect of electing the leader of the free world, the people, make their own criterion for selection who looked the best during the debate, or what color/creed they are, or what their stance is on a single issue? This is the message we as young people get from the older generations, the ones running the country. There is such apathy for complete knowledge of candidates’ platforms from the majority of the older generation, that when it comes time for our turn to walk into the booth, most of us seem to care even less than our parents do.
But we cannot blame others for our own folly, at least not completely. Somewhere along the way, the partial apathy of our elders get amplified on us, so much so that many of us don’t even travel to the polls. There is a large gap between current events and politics and the average young voter. Why? Is it the audience politics usually caters to, the life-experienced and intelligent adult, or it is more that we don’t feel connected to the issues? At what point should we start caring? When we buy a house? When we pay our first real taxes on our own, and actually feel compelled to see what the government is doing with it? Or should we start caring once the economy falls completely apart, and we can’t afford to buy that new laptop, or even get a job coming of out college?
The answer: we need to care now, because however our parents leave us this country is how we’re going to inherit it. The fact is, people often don’t care about what’s going on around them that does not directly affect them( see world hunger), and this is not lost on us, the youth. But we are ignorant, ignorant to the fact that politics DOES affect us directly, we just cannot see it right in front us all of the time. As long we get everything we want short-term, the majority are complacent. I suppose that increased responsibility, such as income taxes and home ownership tends to break us of complete apathy, but for some, not even that is enough.
There is a reason we have a voice at age 18 in this government. It is not an ancient, outdated law, it has a purpose. We have a voice at 18 because we are expected to take an active part in this country’s affairs at 18. More than that, we should WANT to take part! So many have died to give us this right, it’s almost disrespectful not to take advantage of it. However, that being said, it is never alright to vote for the sake of voting-part of that privilege requires that we make intelligent choices.
For our own good, we have to care. And it has to be a team effort. Politicians should make redoubled efforts to reach out to the youth, and the youth need to wake up and embrace their legacy. The vicious cycle of political apathy needs to stop if we are to survive as a nation long-term. What better time than now?
This last presidential election showed increased youth voters across the board. Are we finally showing progress?
When the future fails to care about the present, the future destroys itself.