Anchor Point, AR
College student Born: 1981
Essay themes: Restoration of pride in community/country
As my college's student association secretary and statewide student coalition representative, I believe I have more experience and interest in the proceedings of our government than many of my peers. I have discovered the importance of government for people of all ages in many areas, right down to the effects on local colleges. I am constantly voting on matters of federal and state funding- a couple words that will catch most people's attention. Unfortunately, the future of America is being limited, and for no reason. Leadership is not easy, it takes work and effort. The number of young, dedicated leaders in America is growing smaller. The scandals we see all around us are beginning to be accepted because there are fewer options for leaders. With the laziness that abounds us in these new age cultures, it may seem the only way to increase voter turnout is to make the home PC a poll booth. I, however, don't see anything wrong with the system. I sure don't think we should make anything more "convenient". I believe the way to gain back the support of the people is to put pride back into our communities and country.
My grandfather was an active army member in World War II. He was not drafted, he volunteered to represent his country with his life. In fact, there were so many people volunteering at that time that he was refused because of his poor eyesight. It wasn't until a draft was finally begun that the army accepted his offer. He gave up seeing the birth of his first child to fight for what his country felt was important. Today, he never misses a chance to vote.
People fight for the things they believe in. The small colonies that began the United States won a war that for all practical purposes should have been lost. Why did they win? They were fighting for something they believed in. There is plenty to believe in and be thankful for still left in our country. No, this is not the problem either. The problem is a lack of respect about our country. This comes from taking things for granted because they are handed to you. It also comes from a lack of education about our country. The solution is to increase education. Bring studies out of the history book and into real life. I have learned from life experience that it is involvement that gains and holds on to interest.
I propose that children of all ages be introduced to the proud history of our country, taught the departments of the government and how they work, and be encouraged to pay attention to current events - much like they already are. One way to do this would be to require current event summaries for homework. In high school, when the students are able to grasp the economics more easily, classes should be required that are hands on. Don't just elect student government officials, require that everyone participate in some way. Offer practical incentives: "By participating as a student representative you will be required to report information from the school government to your class. You will be required to join the student government on field trips to City Hall, overnight leadership retreats, and will be asked to occasionally miss class." By having to work towards something, the young Americans will learn not to take advantage of what they are handed. After all, if we don't start trying to make improvements now there might not be much of a United States of America to fight for.
More local government internships should be offered to high school and college students, allowing them to learn up close and personally. Again, placing people directly in the middle of the action. By being around those who care deeply about the way our country is run, the rest of the flock will eventually begin to care as well.
By being involved, students will know what's going on and be interested in it because it directly affects them. Later on, when age 18 comes along, they will have the tools, knowledge, and interest to look into their country's activities and vote because they know it will affect them. As parents they will take initiative to instill this pride into their children; thus, restarting the circle of pride that has managed to disappear in the present day of Internet and Nintendo.
It is not enough to dangle the mouse in front of the lazy, overweight cat called America- it must be chopped up and put into the every day food bowl next to the couch. Education is the key to the future. We must teach society what it is their country does for them, how it does it, and then we need to allow them to decide how far they are willing to help the country grow and become better. Anyone who doesn't vote has no place to complain.
There are two major reasons that young people don't vote. Young people don't believe that their vote counts, and they don't have the political information to decide which candidate to vote for, so they decide not to vote for anyone.
The reason young people don't think that their vote counts is because in big elections, such as the presidential election, there are millions of people voting. This gives them the attitude that one in a million doesn't matter. Although they fail to realize that the votes of all the people who choose not to vote could very easily change the outcome of an election. Another reason that they think that their vote doesn't count is because in presidential elections, electoral votes instead of the popular votes determine the winner. This gives the people in states with fewer votes the impression that their votes don't count since larger states, such as California, get many, many more votes.
It may not seem like this should make a difference since the majority in each of those states vote for a certain candidate, so it would appear that the candidate who wins the election should be the one with the most popular votes, but that isn't always true. Throughout the history of the United States there have been a number of elections where the most popular candidate loses to the one with the most electoral votes. This happens because in a state with many electoral votes, one candidate may beat the other by only a few popular votes while in a state with just a few electoral votes, the candidate who lost the other state may win this state by a landslide.
The founding fathers of our country set up the process of using the electoral vote instead of the popular vote. One reason for this was that it was very hard, if not impossible to add all the votes together throughout the entire United States in a timely fashion. But, today we have computers which are used in some areas to total the votes very quickly and accurately. This would help inspire people that their votes do count, and if we changed over to using the popular vote instead of the electoral vote, me would truly be a country run by the majority, not the states with the majority of electoral votes.
The second reason that young people don't vote in many elections is because they don't know who the candidates are or what they stand for. This is partly because younger people tend to become very bored or aren't inspired to listen to the candidate debates on issues. Another problem is that even when you listen to the debates, many of the candidates like to stay on the fence and not take a stand on any of the controversial issues so that they don't offend anyone.
In order to fix this problem the candidates should fill out a form as to their position on important issues. This form should be available everywhere people vote, and it should be simple such as for or against checks in boxes so that voters can easily find the answers to issues that concern them. These forms should be made for each individual town on the issues that effect that town for city elections and a basic form should be used for presidential elections. This is because votes in a city election may not be concerned about issues such as the candidate's stand on abortion, but rather their stand on the addition of a firehouse while in presidential elections, it would be the exact opposite.
These changes would inspire more people to vote or at least make the ones who are currently voting more politically aware. The increase in participation by young people could change the outcomes of elections. In the Alaska Republican Presidential Straw Poll, George W. Bush beat Steve Forbes by only five votes. If Forbes could have beat Bush here, it could have given him more support and donations.
Many people today take for granted the privilege to vote. They forget how many people in the past have fought and even died so that their children and grandchildren would have the opportunity to do what they couldn't. Voting gives people the opportunity to change things for the better. The people who are voted in make the decisions of which army bases to add or close. They have the ability to create new jobs and change political policies that effect our lives. Some of the policies they make seem to have little or no effect on us individually, but other things have a direct effect on us such as policies concerning taxes.
An increase in young people voting would also change some of the major issues discussed at debates since their major concerns are different than older people's. Young people have the power to change the course of an election and history by voting. The person they elect to the Presidency has the ability to start wars, which may not only change the future of the United States, but the world. More people voting will truly make the United States a country of the people, not just the few who vote.
The reason why young people don't vote is so obvious that it can be found in the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers, progressive and tolerant though they were, saw fit to cite age as the only limitation to holding a federal elected office. In a document that rightly stands as a model for modern liberal democracy, neither race nor gender nor religion nor creed were mentioned as being relevant to the qualifications of a representative. This only serves to emphasize the degree to which age discrimination is
rooted in the American political system. From the beginning, those under 25 (the minimum age for a member of the House of Representatives) have been treated as less-than-equal citizens, so it is no surprise or coincidence that men and women aged 18-25 represent the demographic group that votes the least.
The age requirements mandated in the Constitution for the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency are arbitrary to say the least. What makes a 25 year-old more qualified to represent his or her fellow citizens than an 18 year-old? Why do the responsibilities of a senator require an additional five years life experience? Some may contend that a certain level of maturity is necessary for such important positions,
or that the age restrictions ensure that only those who have a personal and professional stake in the community can stand for office. Interestingly enough, these same arguments were used against women who campaigned for the right to vote in the early years of the twentieth century. Women did not have the "temperament" to make important decisions, according to popular sentiment, and why should they vote if they don't own property or have jobs? Of course, the same logic was used to defend the positioning of the voting
age at 21.
When a citizen turns 18, the law regards him or her as an independent entity, capable of voting, paying taxes, and serving in the military. To deny this citizen the opportunity to hold federal elected office is inconsistent and discriminatory. Voters should be the judge of a candidate's abilities and qualifications without the government setting restrictions based on certain personal characteristics.
Now why does this kind of age discrimination affect voter turnout among young people? In the first place, it is clear that a sense of disenfranchisement with the political system develops when citizens cannot identify with their representatives. Part of the reason why white people over 45 vote more often is that most candidates for political office are white and over 45. Idealistic political philosophy often maintains that any citizen ought to be able to effectively represent his or her fellow citizens regardless of his or her background. In reality, districts with a racial, ethnic or religious majority elect members of Congress who look and think like the majority. Young people never have the opportunity to vote for people who share their generational perspective, and this understandably leads to apathy and disassociation from the political system.
Imagine that a big university town sent a 22 year-old to Washington on a platform of increasing federal assistance to post-secondary institutions and financial aid to students. Or consider the excitement among young professionals that would accompany the senate candidacy of a 26 year-old. Do you think more young people would vote? Of course they would, because suddenly they would identify with a political figure who spoke their
language and understood their interests.
With this in mind, the minimum age requirement for all federal elected officials should be lowered to 18. The American people and the U.S. government currently do not tolerate official restriction of political participation according to any other category, and our history demonstrates that groups which endure such discrimination, when liberated, become active and vital members of the polity. Young people don't need new ways to vote; they just need a connection to the political system that makes it seem more
relevant and accessible. The right to vote is a powerful tool of democracy, but so is the right to contest positions of power. When the latter is finally extended to young people, they will find much more satisfaction and meaning in the former.
The pride of voting is disappearing. What happened to the voting days we use to read about in school textbooks? I want to wear the red, white and blue and parade around town supporting my candidate in his campaign.
The incentive to take the time to vote is no longer there. Time is money, and money is valuable in this bullish financial society. The views of the American public towards politicians has taken a turn downhill. Many citizens view politicians as being corrupt, power crazed, and money hungry. I believe there are some bad apples and the media helps us to see the worst of the worst. The attitude now seems to be "Why take the time to help vote for the most corrupt politician?" This is an extreme way to put it, and to a few politicians it will do them unjust.
With views changing for the next generation, what can we do to increase participation in the political system? How can lowering the voting age help our situation when the problem is partly due to voting pride. The famous words of John F. Kennedy saying, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but for what you can do for your country" is long gone. This generation wants to know what our country is prepared to offer us. What else can we do, make Election Day a holiday? Excuse me while I laugh this one out, ha ha ha. How many people do you know will take the day as was intended and go vote? Giving everyone a day off will not give him or her the incentive to vote. Their viewpoint has still not changed towards the political system.
Requiring debates between all candidates for office is an excellent idea. Require all the candidates to address their views to specified questions. This will give we the people the opportunity to see the candidates views and intellectual standpoint. Who wants to see negative campaign ads about why Politician X is better than Politician Y? Overall, society today no longer cares for a politicians past history. Convince me of your views, show me what you want to do and I will take the time to go register and vote for you. Show me negative campaign ads about your component and you are just as corrupt as he is.
Along with the changes we see in the next generation of people comes the Age of Technology. The Internet is playing a bigger role in our society. Internet voting will increase the participation in many of the younger voters. We live in an online society; to keep up we must change with the times. Internet voting will take little time from the voter, and no hassle free lines to wait in. As was mentioned before, time is valuable. With little time and effort, and the excitement of taking part in the new trend of voting, we will see a significant increase in political participation from the younger generation.
What else can we do to increase voter participation? Why is it that back 40 years ago people viewed voting as a stepping stone in their lives? Some may say morals of society have changed, others may say it is due to the way this generation was brought up to view the political system. Voting and politics has become a mockery. To the younger generation, the best part of it all is the comic strips and comedian jokes. It is nice to make jokes, but too much of a funny thing over time gets embedded in the minds of our youth. What else can be concluded if the fruits of our youth are corrupted from infancy.