Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why we need to vote this time

It's a well known thing that most of us who weren't alive in the 60's tend to be a pretty politically apathetic group. Every election year new stories come out about how there will be "record breaking young voter turnout", but there never is. Especially in 2004. Personally I think it's because no young people were able to get excited about a Democratic candidate who was another relic from the 60's and had about as much charisma as a piece of wheat toast. Young people didn't really identify with him. It was like when your parents have a dinner party with a bunch of their friends, and while they "discuss" things (otherwise known as repeating themselves and preaching to the choir) you sit there politely and answer questions like, "So what are you majoring in?"

You ever had someone older than you think you're a "hacker" because you know how to look something up on google and can unplug the wireless router if the internet isn't working? Well those are the people who tend to vote the most. They're the ones who decide who the next President is every four years. When politicians are appealing to that group, is it really a surprise that this country is this fucked up now? Is it really a surprise that there's a 50% chance that our next President and VP will be an AARP member who can't check his email and a Christian conservative who thinks creationism should be taught in Biology class?

Obama and McCain are pretty much tied in the polls right now. Personally I think those numbers are going to correct in the coming weeks when people get over the "it girl" factor with Sarah Palin and realize she's in no way qualified to be President. But I think there's another reason the polls might be off.

Most of the time polling is done by calling the homes of registered voters. 95% of the people I know under the age of 30 don't have a home phone, we just use our cell numbers. They don't call us because we're not "likely voters". The likely voters have historically been those older, out of touch people I was describing earlier. A lot of us aren't registered for a political party even if we're fervently supporting Obama this time around.

We simply haven't been factored into the calculations. This is where I think people will be surprised this time. Young voters like Obama. They want to vote for him, oftentimes registering to vote for the first time. And frankly, a lot of us have finally had enough of our grandparents screwing up the country.

We want health care because we're graduating from college and taking entry-level jobs where we get crap pay and no benefits. We want stem cell research because we know that by the time we're in our 40's and 50's it might be the thing that saves our lives. We want politicians to care about issues like net neutrality and the 21st century economy, not just issues like Roe v. Wade that have been around since well before many of us were born. We want Social Security to be a top priority because we're paying for it even though we don't expect to have a chance of getting any of that money back. Our grandparents' generation has no incentive to care about that. It'll last through their lifetimes so the fact that we're all going to be destitute when we're their age is just an abstract problem for them.

So please everyone, vote this time around. This election shouldn't be about people who cling to the Reagan years, or even the Bill Clinton years. We're coming up on the next era of American politics, and it doesn't belong to our grandparents, or even our parents. It belongs to us. We need an overhaul in politics, and that means a President we can get behind, not a geriatric and the love child of the Spanish Inquisition and a Caribou.

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