« Maybe I should rethink this "staying in NY for the RNC" thing | Home | Did someone tell Vince Gallo about the Osama sidewalk graffiti campaign? »

August 26, 2004


Buying the Youth Vote

Jenna and Barbara Bush recently sent a helpful email to young voters (via Wonkette), encouraging them to support "our Dad". "We just graduated from college and are perfectly aware that schoolwork, parties, and extra-curricular activities keep students busy, away from campaigns and voting booths," the girls sympathize.

"Our friends - from varying political backgrounds - are supporting our Dad in November. Not only because of his decisions to liberate the women of Afghanistan or bring freedom to the people of Iraq, but because...he made everyone feel welcome and comfortable in our house (except for the occasional boyfriend) and our friends got to know him as a really good guy."

This content-free appeal made me think of something I heard on the radio a few weeks ago. Four young activists, both Democrat and Republican, were interviewed about the "youth vote". Despite the fact that the interviewees were highly involved students spending an enormous amount of time and effort working on political campaigns, the host's tone was a sort of hand-wringing "these kids today, we just can't make them care about anything!" The panelists were earnestly asked if they felt like Rock the Vote concerts and dance parties were the way to increase youth voter turnout. They responded by outrageously suggesting that rather than bribe young voters with free video games and karaoke machines, maybe candidates should try engaging them by talking about issues. Maybe, both the Democrats and Republicans agreed, the best way to involve young people is to encourage them to participate in politics, and give them positions of responsibility and ownership on campaigns when they do.

Basically what they were saying was, "Don't treat us like we're just a vote."

I sympathize, because lately I'm feeling like I'm just a vote too. The fact that John Kerry may or may not deserve his purple hearts, or that Bush is a "really good guy" doesn稚 mean anything to me, or to the "youth", or to 44 million uninsured Americans, or to the parents of 1,000 dead kids in Iraq. And as you and I both know, it won稚 have any bearing on what kind of a President either one will be.

Is it possible that younger voters really would care about issues, if candidates addressed them? Is it possible that if older voters heard about the issues that really matter to them, they'd be more engaged too?

categories: Politics
posted by Emily at 12:10 AM | #