It’s hard to believe that in 2014, the importance of voting is still being questioned by some. In particular, this confusion is most commonly expressed by those in the 18-29 age group. They are the college students who are so busy preparing for their future careers that they forget to pay attention to the economy and job security. They are the group who insists on leaving legislative decisions to traditionally older voters who are assumed to have more knowledge and interest in politics. This age group also represents the disillusioned set who cling to the “My vote doesn’t count” mantra to justify their indifference to all things political. But is there really a valid excuse for not caring about politics or not voting?
College students across the country have recognized that the combined might of their voices have considerable power to effect changes in our society. In the 1960s, they bravely stood up against oppression and injustice, and forced the world to listen to their point-of-view. They advocated for the equality of the sexes, civil rights and protested the U.S.’s involvement in Vietnam. Most recently, the youth vote was viewed as being instrumental in the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. According to surveys conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA, the majority of the voters in the 18 to 29 age group were college students who voted in record numbers. While this is encouraging, statistics show that this is not typical voting behavior for this age group. It important to remember, in order to have the most impact, you have to be consistent and insistent in advocating for the elected officials who support the causes you care about. The consequences of your decisions will affect multiple generations, so you shouldn’t let others speak for you by choosing to not participate.
The best time to become involved is now. By the time this is published, the 2014 midterm elections will have already taken place. Unfortunately, these elections are largely ignored by youth voters, while the voter turnout is typically much higher during presidential elections. However, we fail to recognize their importance, as they will be a key factor in the 2016 presidential election. The midterm elections are also a prime example of the impact a single vote can have on the immediate future. This is when you decide who will govern your state for the next four years, as well as elect congressional and local representatives, who will make the legislative and economic decisions that will impact your community.
Recognize that being a young adult is not just about attending college, being independent, or simply registering to vote. It’s about developing a serious interest in the issues that impact your community. Most importantly, it’s also about assuming your share of the responsibility required to successfully run our democracy.
So let’s change the question in 2014. Ask yourself what it is you care about the most. Once you figure it out, you will naturally be inspired and motivated to support those causes. Hopefully, you might also change your attitude about our government and recognize the power of your voice and your vote.