What government does today can affect the population for generations to come, so you’d think that younger folks would have high interest when it comes to elections. Take draft registration, for example, or student loans; our current status in those and many other relevant topics were decided decades ago, and continue affecting younger generations today. Active election participation by younger voters should be high, then, you might expect, if only to have their voices be heard.
That’s certainly not the case, though, as Hillary Clinton pointed out during a June 4 address at Texas Southern University. And part of the reason is what the Republican Party has done to interfere, she told students.
We have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country. Because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.
Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was right, too. The 22 states with Republican-led legislatures continue to introduce “new laws that make it harder than ever to vote,” she said. And those funky ID laws and manipulations of the Voting Rights Act aren’t just geared against poor, rural, and minority voters. They particularly restrict youth.
And for a quick correction, she suggested? Universal voter registration. Everyone should automatically become a registered voter when they turn 18, Clinton said.
And for damn good reasons. For example, 22 percent of the U.S. adult population is between the ages of 18 to 29. That’s 9 million more than the number of American seniors, who only make up 14.1 percent. Only 38 percent of that 18-to-29 group voted in 2012, though, while a whopping 72 percent of senior citizens did, resulting in seniors outnumbering younger voters by 4.5 million in that election.
These two age groups also vary significantly in political standings, especially on issues like education, employment, income taxes and national security. But that smaller group of senior citizens – who are very unlikely to be attending college, or hunting for jobs, or paying taxes on earned income, or registering for the military draft – get to carry more weight in elections.
So get with it, junior. Don’t wait for universal voter registration. And don’t let the old lady driving the rinky-dink station wagon in the left lane who made you late for work this morning be the one to decide if you can get better education to land a better job with better pay – don’t let her decide when you’ll be able to retire – and don’t let her decide if you’ll be getting shot at in some military conflict. You’re the one most affected by those issues, so you’re the one who has the most need to get out and vote.
Featured image by Frank Plitt via Wikimedia