And I am happy. I realize this makes me an exception among young Americans, a group whose voting turnout has hovered at or below fifty percent for the past forty years. Most young Americans wrinkle their nose when you ask them about their political ideology or if they plan to vote at all. “The system is broken,” is a common refrain from twenty-year-olds who barely remember the last election. Or, pronounced with hipster disdain, “No one in Washington represents me.” Perhaps because you don’t hold up your half of the deal?
There is a grain of truth at the bottom of this Millennial indifference. Politicians don’t exactly bend over backwards to appeal to young voters, even though we (18 – 29-year-olds) make up a greater percentage of the electorate than those 65 and older. Birth control, a medication ninety-nine percent of young woman use? A “shiny distraction,” according to one prominent candidate’s adviser. Wars that young men will be asked to fight? Old men in Washington are itching to pick a fight with Iran. Sometimes politicians even scapegoat the young Americans whose interests they’re elected to protect. Ron Paul, while seeking a major party’s presidential nomination, suggested that we keep entitlement programs intact for the elderly and let the young “fend for themselves” (to wild applause). Paul Ryan, who wants us to make him our vice president, has called to voucherize Medicare for all Americans younger than 55. Does anyone think he would make this part of his platform if the younger-than-55s voted with the same frequency as the 55-and-olders?
I agree that our political system is, if not broken, in rather shabby condition. The Founders may have enfranchised only a small segment of the population, but I’m certain they expected everyone within that segment to carry out their part of the bargain. After fighting a war for the right to representation, surely they were entitled to expect nothing less. And for all you nonwhite/female/broke/18-to-20-year-olds out there, well, your forerunners had to go that extra mile for you to enjoy this privilege the rest of the world would love to have. Honoring their sacrifice keeps me going through the sex jokes. For America.
Dixie Morrison is a sophomore at Pomona College. She works for Vote Naked, an organization that encourages people – especially students – to vote by mail in CA.