Is this the first Presidential election in which you’re eligible to vote? If so, you’re in the same boat as I am. At 20 years old (and 21 before the next President’s inauguration) I’m part of a group of young voters that largely do not show up on Election Day. In the 2008 Presidential Election, there was a 51% increase in voters aged 18 to 29, likely due to the enthusiasm that then-candidate Barack Obama was able to generate. Yet even then, the total turnout of those aged 18-29 was still less than half – 49% – of those eligible. The national turnout rate among all voters regardless of age was 64%. Still, it was a considerable increase in the amount of young voters.
But how many of those young voters were informed on where the two stood?
The government often makes decisions for society. Examples: The government decided not enough low-income people owned homes, so they pushed banks to issue risky mortgages. The government decided not enough people went to college, so student loan availability and pell grants were increased. The government decided too few people had health insurance, so they forced everyone to purchase it or face a penalty (or as some Supreme Court Chief Justices might say, a tax).
All of these are bad ideas that have led to a housing bubble, an imminent student loan bubble, and (unless Obamacare is repealed) increased healthcare costs, respectively.
But perhaps the most dangerous thing of all is government influence to vote.
We hear it all the time: “Just Vote!”, “Vote!”, and “Rock the Vote!”. What these exclamations lack are any incentive for young people to even somewhat inform themselves on the two candidates before turning out at the polls. Barack Obama is purposely targeting young voters again this election cycle, scheduling tons of speeches at universities. It can be confusing (I recently had a text conversation with a girl who confused Todd Akin with Mitt Romney) but it’s really not that hard to get an idea of the two visions each ticket has for the country. I personally might suggest istandwith.com, but really, if you can’t take a few minutes to do your own research, you probably aren’t smart enough to be voting in the first place.
And, if you’re among the folks (often far up or down on the vertical political spectrum) who advocate conspiracy theories, anarchy, or say there’s no point in voting because everything’s a lie or politics is all crap – you’re missing the point. Regardless of how much you may abhor our two-party system or politics in general, you must come to terms with and acknowledge that – for this election cycle at the very least – it’s here to stay. If you really do hate both candidates, choose the lesser of the two evils. If you really like a third-party candidate, go for it. But as you and I both know, your guy won’t be winning.
So don’t just rock the vote. Instead of watching Jersey Shore or Teen Wolf one night, learn about both candidates and make an adult decision about who you want to be the leader of this little thing called the United States of America that you’re a citizen of.
The integrity of our generation depends on it.