A few months ago I was sitting at a stoplight and was signaled by the woman in the car beside me. She asked me how to get to the highway. I told her that she needed to make a right at the stoplight where we were and make another right so onto the highway ramp. I offered to let her cut in front of me to make the right she needed. She smiled and said, “Aww you’re a sweet young man. I don’t care what they say about young people.” I laughed and replied, “Believe in us.
Huffington Post published an online article, “Youth Vote Turnout: Exit Polls Show Greater Share Of Electorate Than In 2008,” detailing exactly where America’s youth stood during the 2012 election. Surprisingly, young people ages 18-29 made up 19% of all voters (according to Edison Research) who turned out at the polls. Youth voters 18-29 make up about 21 percent of the voting-eligible population (according to CIRCLE’s analysis of census data). Historically, youth voter turn-out is usually under 40%. President Obama won 60% of this population and Mitt Romney won 36%. President Obama won 66% of the youth vote in his election against McCain; however, both percentages are the highest any democrat has scored in 30 years. In an article posted on politico.com, the declaration was made that the youth vote made the difference for President Obama in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio (according to C.I.R.C.L.E’s analysis).
What This Means
This first obviously shows that this great apathy that America accuses it’s youth of possessing is not some genetic defect that cannot be changed. I will not argue that the youth of our country are fairly apathetic. I will not argue that this is despicable when compared to the youth of other countries that are actively engaged in the political climate and have a voice and make their voice heard. I will not argue that this apathetic, nonchalant, it-is-what-it-is attitude has to be rectified or the future of democratic leadership in this country is endangered. What I will dispute is that this attitude is entirely the youth’s fault. It isn’t even mostly their fault. The large percentage of the blame is for the current and former (within the last 2 decades) leaders. Those self absorbed baby boomers who have sucked the country dry and robbed their children and grandchildren of an opportunity to have at least as much as they (the parents) have. I won’t go off too far on that tangent but, suffice it to say, such a bleak socioeconomic future would steal the light of anyone’s day.
These statistics also prove something else. The stats prove that when youth are engaged, encouraged, and inspired the majority, that 19% out of 21% will respond. This shows that America’s youth aren’t hopeless. They’re not unreachable. They’re more dis-enchanted than apathetic. Perhaps the problem is that the country has been co quick to write them off and dismiss them because they do not understand them- how ignorant is that?!
These statistics should say something to the youth of The United States. It should tell them: you do have a voice, you do make a difference, and you are important.These stats should serve as proof that engagement is the only way to make a change. In a democratic society, the only way to have influence and make sure that your interests are represented is to become a part of the process and to do so in such strong numbers that the country has to pay attention.
Currently, democrats are investigating Obama’s strategy and how and why that appealed to young people. Conversely, Republicans are investigating to figure out how they can better engage this population of voters. The point is: America’s youth got up on election day and stepped into the arena and now the game has to change. If they keep this up, this country might actually begin to have forward thinking policy and more innovative strategies that meet the demands of contemporary democratic society.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin,’
An Angry Black Man