Rock Out with Your Caucus Out

Posted on October 16, 2010 by

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All right, so even I own the t-shirt. In my defense, however, I’m a sucker for witty sayings…that, and most students during the 2008 Presidential election were too…

The 2008 Presidential election was a time when the young vote significantly helped propel Obama to victory. Voting was contagious, even among those who, otherwise, could care less about American politics.

According to CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, about 22-24 million young voters (aged 18-29) voted in that historic Presidential election with an overwhelming 68%-30% ratio preference of Obama to McCain.

In fact, Gallup released a poll demonstrating the age bracket’s affiliation with the Democratic party itself.

                                                                                               

 Now, we have arrived to 2010, one of the most important wave elections of the century, and the same youth who could identify with the swagger and style of President Obama cannot seem to identify with the ones he is endorsing- the Democrats running for the Senate and House…

Although it all seems incredibly frustrating, there is indeed a history to this political pattern.

WORTH A SHOT:

Any experienced analyst knows that there are certain demographics that simply do not vote come midterm elections. Among these include the ethnic vote of the Latinos, African-Americans, etc.  Another important demographic, however, are the young voters. The Pew Research Center conducted a study delving deeper into this issue:

The survey results show that interest in the Nov. 2 elections among under-30 Democratic voters is much lower than it was for the 2006 midterm elections, a year in which the Democrats made significant gains in Congress. Only 27 percent of young Democrats report giving a lot of thought to the elections this year, compared with 47 percent at about the same time in 2006. On the other hand, 39 percent of young Republican voters told Pew they were giving a lot of thought to the midterms.

However, Obama is still making the attempt. Last night, the President appeared on MTV’s “Town- Hall” style forum to rally the young demographic. The broadcast featured the President answering the audience’s questions, ranging from a variety of issues from the economy to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. This is not the first time the President has reached out to his newest supporters. In late September, at a college conference call, he addressed the importance of midterm particpation:

“You can’t sit it out,” said Obama. “You can’t suddenly just check in once every ten years or so on an exciting presidential election and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we have a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans…. That is a big choice. That has big consequences. So even though this may not be as exciting as a presidential election it is going to make a huge difference in terms of whether we are going to be able to move our agenda forward over the next couple years.”

Some believe the lectures are beneficial, while others think it is a sign of desperation, conducted in the eleventh hour of the midterm election season. Despite difference of opinion, Obama and the Democratic party will most likely suffer loss this election, and that will most likely mean that, in addition to their base, the young voters chose not to vote.  

WHY WE SHOULD  WAKE UP:

When the voting age was lowered in 1972, they say an incredible privelege was given to our country. Most youth, however, believe that privelege is either unrelateable or ineffective. If they did vote, it seems it didn’t work. If they don’t vote, it won’t matter now. Therefore, even though youth forget that the greatest issues do directly affect them (such as unemployment, social reform, and tax cuts), they believe that their best way of response is no response at all.

Fox News discusses that stagnant nature of today’s young voters

CBS talks with Rock the Vote founder on more creative ways to get youth more politically involved

EFFECTIVE FOR A SEASON:

Getting youth involved is important indeed. T shirts like “Rock Out with Your Caucus Out” are effective for stylishly spreading the word, giving the youth something to cling to so that they can be aware of voter’s importance. Obama and his advisors grasped this concept when they utilized popular forms of digital media such as Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. Needless to say, it helped his campaign tremedously.

However, it should not stop there. The effectiveness can only remain for so long unless the youth learn how to grasp what’s beyond the surface, political responsiblity. They must be well-trained in politics so that they know how to criticially analyze politics. Teaching the importance of politics in high school would be an effective step. Removing registration hassles when changing locations is another. Michael McDonald of the Huffington Post, offered significant research to this phenonemon:

Sadly, civic education is not an area tested for in No Child Left Behind. So, change will have to come from the states. An innovative policy implemented in Florida and Hawaii and recently adopted by a number of other states – California, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wyoming – is “preregistration” which allows persons as young as age sixteen to register to vote so they are on the voter rolls when they turn eighteen. This policy enables civics education to be tied directly to registering to vote and allows high school students to serve as poll workers (poll workers often must be registered voters).

It is so important to involve the youth vote. If anyone, they can be molded. They can be educated. They can turn that dissatisfaction into action. And Obama will certainly need that support when the GOP takes over.  Nonetheless, it goes for the other side of the voter’s ballot as well. Not voting should never be an option no matter how uninteresting or unsatisfied a party is, otherwise parties claiming anti-incumbency can snatch voters just as easily, forming the dreaded “Swing Voters”  demographic.

Yes, even politics is a symbiotic relationship.

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