Last Tuesday’s midterm elections were stuffed in the middle of my week of chaotic classes and homework but I still found time to cast my vote: my first one.
But, the elections also signaled an alarming trend among my friends: blatant refusal to vote.
This sudden outbreak of my friends deciding not to complete their civic duty is alarming and unacceptable. Young people need to get involved in the voting process because we are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of who is elected.
As I logged onto Facebook, I saw status after status from my friends proudly proclaiming that they did not vote because they didn’t care for either side or that the government was just a conspiracy with only big corporation’s interests at heart, rather than the interests of the American public.
This lack of voting stemmed from young Democrats being disappointed with President Obama.
Looking back on his impressive campaign promising “hope” and “change” and “Yes We Can” optimism, it is easy to look at his presidency and say: what happened?
Obama has not reversed all the damage from the Bush administration, but Obama has dealt with some large issues discussed in his campaign.
Overall, “Obama is the most accomplished and progressive president in decades, yet the only Americans fired up by the changes he has delivered are Republicans and Tea Partiers hellbent on reversing them,” Rolling Stone staff writer Tim Dickinson wrote.
Obama’s signature and support of important bills helps all U.S. citizens but is especially pertinent to young voters.
An example is student loan reform, which prevents banks and privatized lenders from occupying the middle-man position and gouging students outrageous fees for them to receive higher education.
Obama has passed incredible student loan reform as well as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which demands equal pay for equal work.
This law was named after Lilly Ledbetter, an “Alabama woman who, at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory, complained that she had been paid less than men,” New York Times staff writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote.
The changes Obama has made since the beginning of his presidency are more than other presidents have accomplished in full terms.
He has provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with over $1 million to improve the quality of healthcare for veterans.
He also used an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay.
However, Republicans have misconstrued these accomplishments as failures, which effectively lowers the morale among young voters.
According to cbsnews.com, “The youth vote—18-to-29-year-olds—who helped catapult Obama into office makes up an estimated 9 percent of voters this year, compared to 18 percent in 2008.”
A reason for this drop-off in voter turnout can be attributed to an abundance of political information and propaganda being projected at young voters on a daily basis.
Voters become so bogged down with information and are distressed about what is true that they decide it would just be simpler to stay home on Election Day.
This is possibly the worst decision they could make.
Young voters do not have a concrete grip on the inner workings of the political sphere in Washington, D.C. These voters do not realize that political movements take time. Just because a certain piece of legislation isn’t passed immediately does not constitute the need for writing off Obama as a leader and considering him an outlandish failure.
“An estimated 20.4 percent of young people voted on Nov. 2, which is about a million fewer than in 2006 and was less than half of those who voted in the 2008 presidential election.” According to consortiumnews.com.
This dramatic decrease in young voters was due partially to disappointment in Obama for not radically changing politics in Washington, D.C., but also the fact that older voters always dominate the polls during midterm elections.
According to www.blogs.reuters.com, older voters show up to the polls in numbers that nearly double the youth voter turnout rate. My hope for increased youth votes isn’t gone, but it is dwindling.
My message to my friends who expressed an extreme lack of interest in voting is that voting is necessary.
It’s a civic duty, not an optional activity. It is the responsibility of all American citizens to vote to protect their future and elect candidates who can offer them the best legislation when they enter into their respective offices.
If young voters continue to steer clear of the polls on Election Day, our generation will be stuck as adults, belabored with the consequences of our complacent actions as young people.