Monday, October 25, 2010

The Young Voter State of Mind

Bloomberg has an article out today about young voters’ likelihood of sitting out this year’s mid-term elections.

Among some of the opinions the article recorded from the 18-30 age bracket were:

“Most students don’t care about elections in general. In most midterm elections, there’s not that central person for us to rally around.” – Melody Mostow, 20

“I’m trying to follow the election a little bit, but I’m not really motivated. I don’t really like any of the candidates.” – Chris Williams, 22

“I’d rather be spending time focusing on my grades.” – Jenna Fumo, 20

Incidentally, at least two of the above did vote in 2008, and they voted for Obama.

I could analyze and interpret the larger article – which also reported that less than three in 10 voters under the age of 30 really plan on visiting their polling places on November 2 – a few different ways, but let’s start out with the most obvious…

All of that sweet talk of “hope” and “change” just hasn’t gone very far. Yeah, sure, we now have healthcare coverage for all… by 2014, at least. And we’re “out” of Iraq. But the war has been stepped up in Afghanistan now, and our troops are dying left and right for an increasingly unpopular cause.

Then there’s the abysmal unemployment rate and the generally dilapidated national mood. We’re a nation of concerns nowadays, and no longer one of wide-eyed excitement.

Even the most clueless college student has to feel at least a little bit of that. It’s easy for young people to wrap themselves up in some sort of protective bubble, especially when at school. But economic worries have expanded enough that not even the most sheltered cocoon is completely safe these days.

Generation Nitwit

Speaking of cocoons, my generation – and the ones that have followed – have grown up on an unbalanced diet of celebrity gossip, consumerism and instant gratification. We’re taught not to think for ourselves, but to absorb other’s opinions from preschool all the way through college.

That has had a decided negative affect on the population…

At age 26, one of my coworkers can tell you tiny and completely insignificant details about the most obscure bands out there. Unsurprisingly, she voted for the biggest celebrity in 2008, Barack “Star” Obama.

(This is also the same girl who argued with me over whether people really are equal or not… Of Asian descent herself, she sincerely believes that blacks deserve more consideration than whites.)

That celebrity culture teaches my generation that it’s all about being acceptable and seizing the day, consequences be damned.

We also learn that values are old-fashioned and consequences considered obsolete… until they smack us in the face.

But until that happens, we’re very happy focusing on the most easily attainable “truth” that best seems to fit into our jealously guarded bubbles.

The Easy Choice

My generation fell for Obama because he was the easy choice. Everybody else did the thinking for us – the media, our professors, our media-influenced peers, celebrities – and so we happily gave him our warmest endorsement because everybody else did.

But even the media can’t muster up that kind of enthusiasm this year, and so because everybody else isn’t doing it, we can’t be bothered either.

In essence, we’re lazy, as the above quoted Chris Williams inadvertently admitted when he said that he wasn’t “motivated.”

Or as Melody Mostow put it, “there’s not that central person for us to rally around.” I.e., there’s nobody to follow that requires little to no effort whatsoever.

Like I said, we’re lazy. And Democrats, since you’re in charge of the education system in this country, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

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