Now that the election is over, many young voters will likely retire their ‘concerned citizen’ badge until presidential primaries start-up again. Being a politically active young person, however, is more than just voting for a president. There have been dramatic repercussion in the last four years due to youth voter inactivity between presidential elections.
In our own instant gratification generation psyche, many of us thought we had already created change by electing one man into the U.S. presidential seat. When it came to the midterm races in 2010, there was a 60% youth voter decline from 2008.
If more of us would have voted in 2010, perhaps there would have been tremendous changes. Perhaps the youth vote would have decided the election like it did in 2012.
Isn’t the rip-and-tear of the House over the past two years, all the ‘gridlock’, worth taking a stance? Inform yourselves about local candidates and then go vote! Standing in line once every two years is not a bad price to pay if it benefits the entire nation.
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It is up to us to keep youth’s interests at the forefront of what policy makers in Washington think of first. How do we do this? There is no easy answer or quick solution. However, consistently electing officials who understand our struggle is key.
We are in the midst of a paradigm shift that will most definitely make the minority voice, the female voice, and the young person’s voice louder than ever (they were the demographics that decided the 2012 election after all); but this shift does not guarantee that this voice will be heard. We must reach gender parity in Washington and we have to continue championing those who play to our interests.
As I have said before, an effort at a grassroots level is also necessary in order to create change. It is difficult to get a meeting in with John Boehner to talk about student loan debt, but it is a bit easier to speak to your local congressman about it, or to start a group that has the same concerns.
In the months I have written this column, I have learned not to take everything at face value. Thorough research on a candidate means doing more than listening to what one news network has to say about them during a broadcast; it means discovering all of the candidate’s positives, negatives, and how they perform in the ‘grey areas’, too. It also means getting past the jargon and excess information, a more difficult task, to grasp how much a candidate’s political stances could affect me and thus, the young, female voter.
Equal representation in politics is a war we need to keep fighting. The young voter cannot sit idly waiting for someone else to make the changes. The young voter must take a stand. And stay actively engaged in the political process until long after we can be called “young.”
Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to email@example.com