Akon came to my IR 210 class this week, to hear our presentations on possible social media compaigns for the ONE Campaign. His closing statement, after hearing all of our presentation, was that our generation was the future–we were the next leaders, politicians, business leaders, and entrepeneurs of the world. And for seniors about to graduate, they will be repeatedly told this, that they are the leaders of the future.
However, millenials are emerging into a world that they did not create themselves. Policy is created by an older generation that is not as ethnically diverse as younger Americans. Much is made of how younger voters have totally different perspectives on many social issues than older Americans–their perspectives on gay marriage, immigration, and marijuana may be the catalyst for some chances in politicians to change their perspectives on these social issues.
However, according to a Washington Post article, young voters are still underrepesnted. Despite coming in force in 2008 and 2012 to support President Obama, even in those years, only 15.4% of voters were 18 to 29 years old. In contrast, they make up 21.2% of the population1. During midterm elections, young voters, along with the rest of the voting public, come out in even fewer numbers, simply because elections other htna the presidential election are not well-publicized. However, these elections, such as the midterm election coming up in 2014, ar earguably more important to individual citizens. Senators and representatives are the ones passing legislation that attempts to help their hom estate or district. Governors and state officials essentially enforce federal laws. These are the people who are actually going to enforce the laws in a way that may or may not be palatable to you.
Our generation looks at what’s happening in the United States and protest–many of us see gay marriage as an uncontroversial issue, and many of us believe that the justice system is prosecuting those with marijuana unfairly. Maybe we do not have an issue such as the draft for the Vietnam War to unite us, but we do have issues that we care about. And the fastest way to get the attention of policymakers is by voting en masse,because they desire nothing more than to keep their job as an elected official.
Currently, my home is in Texas, and I vote as a resident of Texas. Sometimes, I wish that I could live in Florida or Iowa–somewhere that seems to matter in terms of presidential elections. In a similar way, I wish that my generation would vote in a way that would significantly catch the eye of the political structure. If we showed ourselves to be the socially liberal (but diverse in terms of government control) that we are, perhaps we would see fewer politicians flying exclusively to Florida to talk about Medicare.