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Young voters and 2008

February 9, 2008

2008 is bringing in the youth vote in unprecedented numbers, according to Jim Cafferty of CNN. To me, this is wonderful and exciting in at least two ways and disturbs me in one very important way. I’ll tackle the good first.

First, as a child of the Y Generation, I grew up in a very detached time for young people. I remember Bill Clinton on MTV playing his saxomophone and seeing many teens, including myself, shrugging and rolling our eyes. He had white hair for fuck’s sake! In fact, the whole reason Merit-bound Alley began was to shake off that ambivalent distance I had from how the world is run. It’s astounding to me to see so many people, no older than I was at that time, actually giving a crap about how this world is run. The icing on that cake is that many of them are inspired by a candidate that not only hates the partisan politics that are killing our government, but wants to heal that wound as well.

The turnout of young people actually represented the winning margin of victory in some states. For example, Barack Obama won Missouri by just 10,000 votes. That’s a state where 75,000 young people voted for him. The fact is Obama probably owes thanks to young people for a lot of his Super Tuesday victories. In fact, Obama won the youth vote in 19 of the 22 states that voted on Tuesday.

During my teen/tween years where I saw every person conforming to one group or another, and waging all-out class war on the other groups, it gives me a lot of hope to see todays youth supporting an ideal of closing that gap at the government level.

The second good point is shown by the following comment to the original article:

Rebecca from Columbus, Ohio writes:As a young person (20 years old), I am interested in this election because the government has gone down the toilet in the past 8 years and I wasn’t able to vote yet in 2004 to try to turn things around. Young people like me are also extremely inspired by Barack Obama, who gives us hope that we can change things in this country. My life has been governed entirely by the Bush and Clinton families, and I’m working to see something new.  

 

Not only is Rebecca inspired now, but has been following politics and the state of the States for years. She wants to change things for the better. Now, this is not something that has gone unnoticed by me. We can’t read Delaware blogs without knowing that our young people care, and maybe care a lot more than we did at their age. I’m talking about people like Mat MarshallRyan MC, and Ryan S: all people who have strong feelings about how government should be run and are able to show that with intelligence and passion. Even if I haven’t agreed with everything these three have posted (one more than the others), I can honestly say that all have made me think more on important issues and have taught me something. That’s an important gift. I can’t help but think about all of this and feel a little better about our prospects for the future.

As I said earlier, there is one thing that is painfully disturbing to me. From the article:

 This week we saw more than 3 million voters under the age of 30 flooding the polls on Super Tuesday (emphasis mine) 

 In Jack Cafferty’s eyes, I am no longer young. I guess Jack hasn’t see me playing video games or laughing at farts. Old codger. 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tyler Nixon permalink
    February 9, 2008 11:56 pm

    It’s about effing time the young people step up and get real (I’m with you Joe, it kind of sucks to be no longer “young”, even though I still really feel pretty young…). Anyway this all could be the most exciting development in our lifetimes, irrespective of the fact that my own party is somewhat on the losing end of this stick, thank you George Fucking Asshole Son of a Bitch Bush. (Yeah, I said it.)

    For years I tried to get people my age and then younger, as time passed, to get involved and get active. The whole 90’s era was so full of apathy and self-indulgence. Then the last 7 years of…well, nightmare. It was often very dis-spiriting for me. People just never seemed to care or, worse, thought public service or activism was for fools, not worth giving up a scintilla of time or money towards.

    I just hope that this emerging generation of politically-engaged youth do not lose heart if things don’t turn out exactly as they hope. I am very impressed by Senator Obama and what he is generating, but I also worry about idealistic impressionable young people putting all their eggs into the basket of any one politician. That is why I have to admit I almost got veklempt when I read your new masthead quote – that we are the change we have been waiting for. It is the most powerful single notion being put forth today. It is far more than just a trite slogan.

    Even though I am getting “old” compared to the new generation coming up I am pretty fired up at how things are developing. It really gives me renewed hope to think that now I can talk to many many new voters about clean, renewable energy or accountable government or ethical public service knowing they “get it” and will not look at me like some alien being or crazy person.

    It is also a reason I have great dismay and trepidation about the poison that many are still slinging back and forth, with scorched earth rhetoric and very divisive rhetoric that clings to ideological warfare and recriminations. It is not only not useful or productive but it comes across to me as an overt attempt to manipulate these impressionable young voters into becoming simply another generation of partisans and ideologues. It is corrosive and disgusting to me. I have tried to battle back but inevitably get sucked into the mire. I am choosing to no longer hit back or argue. I have faith that these young people will be just as repelled as I am by those who can do nothing but demonize those with whom they disagree or, more accurately, those who will not agree with them.

    Anyhow, I love the new site, Joe. Thanks for hosting my little spleen-venting. I hope all the Madjeskis are well. You should give my brother a call about your back. He lived in agony for almost 2 years with a bulging disc pressing on his siatic (sp?) nerve. He got a form of discectomy and was good as new, never a problem since. He may be able to give you some good information or advice. His neurosurgeon was Magdy Boulous (sp? again) here in Wilmington, one of the best in the country from what understand. Ring me if you want to get in touch with him.

    Peace,

    TN

  2. February 10, 2008 9:30 am

    I completely agree with you, but I’m not as leary of the divisive rhetoric poisoning the younger voters. The reason for that is that I think they are smarter than that, and realize exactly how damaging that bullshit is.

    “That is why I have to admit I almost got veklempt when I read your new masthead quote – that we are the change we have been waiting for.”

    That is ripped directly from Sen. Obama’s Super Tuesday reaction speech. I liked it, too!

    I have been doing incredibly well with the herniated disk. The physical therapy has been amazing, and I think I may be able to avoid surgery on this one. Expect a call later this week, anyways, as I’m slowly trying to get back in touch with friends now that I’m feeling a bit better.

  3. Tyler Nixon permalink
    February 10, 2008 11:10 am

    Glad to hear you are on the mend…

    I think you are right about the younger voters. Generally I have always had underlying contempt for the self-consumed Baby Boomers and their warfare style of politics. The Clintons absolutely embody this, like this is all a big two-tier game – the first being the public conventional “wisdom”/media message that they manipulate, the second being the behind-the-scenes nasty truth about what they are after and what they are really all about – winning and power. My problem with them has never been one that reached outright hostility until recent years when I realized that these people will literally recycle themselves on us as long as they can, watering down the impact of grassroots politics and infecting the debate with their constant partisan or ideological warfare.

    Andrew Romano, a young Newsweek writer, wrote an article about Obama (I had known your masthead quote was from him, which was why I singled him out), which seemed to sum it up well. It gives me heart that this upcoming generation will not be sucked into the self-aggrandizing self-important Baby Boomer ways.

    I also believe they will not disengage if he doesn’t win. Whatever you think of Ron Paul, he deserves much credit, like Obama, for bringing together a hugely diverse group of previously-apathetic disengaged citizens and getting them working in politics and learning grassroots activism on-the-fly. I suspect that for the media manipulators and glib powermongers the “jig” is very much up. They won’t be dislodged so much in this election cycle, but the writing is on the wall…..FINALLY!

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/109589/output/print

    “According to Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, authors of “Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics,” millennials “aren’t confrontational or combative, the way Boomers (whose generational mantra was ‘Don’t trust anyone over 30’) have been.” Instead, millennials belong to what social scientist William Strauss calls a “civic generation,” drawn to issues of “community, politics and deeds, whereas the boomers focused on issues of self, culture and morals.” Reacting against the excesses of our parents—especially their efforts to advance moral causes through partisan politics—we prefer to address problems by reforming institutions from within.”

    Amen.

  4. February 10, 2008 11:38 am

    “I also believe they will not disengage if he doesn’t win. Whatever you think of Ron Paul, he deserves much credit, like Obama, for bringing together a hugely diverse group of previously-apathetic disengaged citizens and getting them working in politics and learning grassroots activism on-the-fly.”

    Absolutely, especially his ability to get the disenfranchised internet folks to gather together.

    ” Reacting against the excesses of our parents—especially their efforts to advance moral causes through partisan politics—we prefer to address problems by reforming institutions from within.”

    Wonderful words to hear!

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