As a new generation enters adulthood, how should liberal politicians and activists market their message to young voters?
Hello, my name is progressyouth. The subject of my diary entries and the theme of my blog, "Progress, Youth" (www.progressyouth.blogspot.com) are issues that concern young people and issues that are of concern to young people. My expertise in this area comes mainly from the fact that I am 18 years old. Unlike the majority of people my age (or at least my perception of the majority), I vote, I am politically active, and I care what happens 10 miles North of me in Washington.
Voter apathy among young people is one of the more serious problems facing American democracy, especially the left wing. Many argue that the lack of voter participation among young people is an expression of their willingness to accept any group that gains political power. Perhaps the rest of the young feels that all politicians are the same, or that they will all act on our behalf. This, as demonstrated time and time again especially by the more conservative members of government, is simply not the case.
A few days ago, I sent an e-mail to a fellow Webb volunteer who blogs under the pseudonym of TeacherKen. He responded with a lengthy, thoughtful, and interesting response to my questions, which he posted on DailyKos as his dairy entry for the week. (http://www.dailykos.com/...). This provoked a thought-provoking discussion which is the core theme of my blog. A more lengthy discussion of this topic will be available on my blog, but here is my short response:
It is a misconception that young people do not care. Like most voters, young people care about the things that they perceive to affect their lives. Issues such as social security and tax reform are irrelevant to them because they are healthy, and for the most part they do not have a greatly taxable amount of money. Thus, young people are blissfully unaware of their own peril when it comes to the issue of the budget deficit and the impending destruction of social security system. Young people live fast; the future is of no importance.
Other issues such as global warming and NSA wire-tapping are unimportant to young voters for the same reason they are unimportant to the majority of voters: The results of these phenomena are not tangible, they require complex thinking. Even though I believe most people are capable of this, it does not strike the potential voter with enough fear.
So, how do you reach young voters?
1. Campaign on the issues that young voters experience on a daily basis. The best one: Education. Rep. Pelosi in the Democratic Weekly Radio Address this week announced the Democratic Party's intent to lower rates on student loans. The Democratic Party now needs to advertise this message to the college-aged demographic.
2. Make Clear to Young Voters the Extent to which the Leaders in Washington are Destroying America for the Next Generation. When my generation reaches maturity, we will wake up to find a big mess, to say the least. Social security will be on its way into bankruptcy or already there, an inconceivable budget deficit will leave our government in huge debt to other nations and entities, and rising global temperatures will threaten the human species like no other challenge in recorded history. These problems are fixable! And they are fixable right now! But they will not be fixed with this conservative Congress, which provides lavish lifestyles for its rich constituents at my expense.
Republicans would say that my approach to young voter apathy is fear-mongering. To this I say that it's about time people my age became afraid, as budget deficits threaten the future wellbeing of the economy and the American government with inexpressible magnitude and global warming has this Earth spiraling headlong towards unprecedented global catastrophe. Youthful intervention is this nation's, indeed this world's, only salvation.