Young people don’t vote. Historically, as noted by the U.S Census Bureau, people in the 18-24 and 25-44 age range have always held the lowest voting percentage. The 56th Presidential election in 2008 saw the largest youth turnout since 1972 and 1992. However, youth voting dropped again in 2012, with only 45% of people ages 18-29 voting.
So why don’t we vote? I mean, we do make up 21% of the voting population, elected Obama into office twice with our votes, and by 2015 will make up one-third of the electorate vote. And if those statistics don’t empower you, then read this quote by David Burnstein: “Millennials are more global, more tolerant, more diverse, more educated, more connected, and bigger than any generation before them.” Our generation is a force to be reckoned with, yet why can’t do something as simple as slipping a sheet of paper into a box?
It’s because the world we live in isn’t exactly comforting. We are a generation stereotyped as narcissistic, entitled, and fame chasing brats. Climate change is making it feel like hell on Earth, college costs more than a new car, jobs only seem to exist at Starbucks, and the list goes on. We live in what Paul Krugman calls, “The New Gilded Age”, and because of this, most of us do not trust the government.
John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, found in Harvard University’s recent Institute of Politics poll that people ages 18-29 generally have “less interest, less participation, and less trust in almost every single institution.” The institutions included in the survey include the military, Supreme Court, and healthcare system. And in a survey done by the company Edelman Burland, only 5% of millennials strongly trust the government, whereas the other 95% strongly distrust or feel neutral.
Not only is our distrust stopping us from voting, but the government’s inability to get its act together is another factor. Just within 2013, the entire world witnessed the student loan interest rate riot, government shutdown, and failure of Obamacare website. I’m not saying the government alone can make things perfect, but a majority of the decisions it makes should take into consideration the thoughts of the people. And the American dream that society pushes on us to continue pursuing? That dream is about as distant as the green light on the bay in F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Some people think we don’t vote because we don’t care. That part is partially true. Many of my friends say, “The government is stupid I don’t care,” or “It doesn’t matter because the government is always going to stay the same.” The other truth is that it’s not that we don’t care what happens to our future. It’s that we haven’t found the right person to support it or thought anyone was a magical fairy godmother and could fix everything lickety-split.
But is there hope to turn things around? Yes.
Midterm elections start November 4 of this year, and I plan on voting. I finally turned of age on May 8th and am excited to vote in a part of something bigger than myself. However, prospects are grim in general. Only 23% of millennials plan to vote as of now, compared to the 34% earlier this year. “Young people still care about our country, but we will likely see more volunteerism than voting in 2014,” John Della Volpe said in a statement.
I attest to Mr.Volpe’s statement that we do care, but we need to put our sentiments into action. We have a duty to try, even if the smallest ways, such as casting a vote. I know I’m yanking on a mile-long chain and beating a dead horse, but it’s most powerful thing we can do. And those who are apathetic and dismissive, need to start caring. We all need to pull together to at least try to create a world worth living in.
In two years, we will have the opportunity again to pull together and vote for our new leader. There are already predictions of Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Joe Biden, and of course, Hillary Clinton. Let’s hope 2016 will be another turn around year us young people.
Goddard, Taegan. “Why young American’s don’t vote.” The Week. Felix Denni, 29 May. 2014. Web. 31 July. 2014.
Fox, Lauren. “Few millenials plan to vote in 2014.” U.S News and World Report. Kerry F. Dyer. 29 April. 2014. Web. 31 July 2014.
Woodward, Calvin. “2016 Presidential Campaign: Who’s in the running?” Mercury News. Media News Group. 23 June. 2014. Web. 31 July. 2014.
Student HPOP Committee. “Survey of Young American’s Attitude Towards Politics and Public Service: 24th Edition.” Survey. 4 Dec. 2013.
CIRCLE Staff. “The Youth Vote In 2012.” Survey. 13 May. 2013.
Edelman Berland. “How Millenials Like Their Politics.” Survey. 23 August. 2012.
U.S Census Bureau. “Young Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964-2012. Survey. April 2014.
Fabian, Jordan. “Poll: Young People (Still) Least Likely to Vote.” Fusion. Yahoo-ABC Network. 28 October. 2013. Web. 31 July. 2014.
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