With the Democratic and G.O.P National conventions fresh in our minds and the Presidential debates about to take place, it’s only rational to start thinking about who you are going to write in the ballot in November. All year we have seen endless amounts of political ads and ridiculous amounts of analysis over which candidate has the better plan for our country’s future. We see this all the time and it all blends into the same meaningless messages; young voters especially feel this way. Politicians have been given a bad rap by the next generation of voters, as they rightfully have earned. It doesn’t seem like anyone in office can truly make a difference to the lives of individuals. However, without participation from young voters, how can they expect a better outcome?
According to the U.S Census Bureau, only about 60% of American registered voters cast their ballot in the 2008 presidential election, and only 35% of registered voters in the 18-24 year old age group. From the same source, it was reported that the largest turnout of voters was from people 60 years and older (about a 73% turnout); which means that the older generation is primarily making the decisions for who leads our country. The young people of America are represented the poorest at the polls, even though that is the group that will be most affected most by the future decisions made for our nation.
This trend is frightening to think about and is likely to continue. Predicted turnouts of first time eligible voters are dismal at best. It seems that young people are either unaware of their poor efforts or just don’t care. If young voters showed up at the polls at the rate that senior citizens did, this year’s race could look drastically different.
Young voters need to take hold of their liberties as American citizens and assert the power that comes with it. Listening to political speeches and understanding the differences in government policies seems like a chore to most people, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. By taking a few simple steps, you can go to the polls and make a confident and informed decision.
First, it may seem obvious, but it’s very important to figure out what issues are important to you. Listening to our President talk about foreign policy, labor disputes, and economic strategies may seem uninteresting to a young voter. However, I’m sure that there are matters of our country that are important to you, and that’s exactly what you should focus on. Figure out what you like or dislike in our government and what you personally would like to see changed. Next, look at what each candidate stands for on the issues that are most important to you. Doing a little research has never hurt anyone and it can really change your point of view on politicians.
Furthermore, take political analysis with a grain of salt. It might seem easy to just listen to what the “experts” have to say about it, but just remember that everyone has their own biases and no commentary is truly objective. Instead focus on facts rather than opinions, look at candidates actual voting records and statements and try not to get lost in all the back and forth banter.
Lastly, remember that every vote counts the same and that the real judgment is that you choose to vote, not who you choose to vote for. The young people of America have the same amount of power as any other citizen, so get out there and exert that power and feel more confident in your future.
by Evan Wilt
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