BLACK RIVER FALLS, WI
High school student
Essay themes: Election holiday; abolish electoral college; need more minor parties
DOMINIC J. FOSCATO
NATHAN J BEYERLEIN
Essay themes: Election holiday; abolish electoral college; need more minor parties
As America moves forward into the Twenty-first Century, political participation from our nation's youth continues to decline. Such a downward spiral of voter turnout can be attributed to America's glaringly imperfect democratic system. While the United States is far from totalitarian, our disorganized, confusing, and tense political atmosphere inevitably creates voter apathy and public frustration. The current processes used to determine state and national elections are simply not conducive to an adequate environment for democracy. Therefore, I propose we make some bold changes within the existing structure of American politics.
First off, there needs to be a more broad-based selection of philosophies and representatives from which Americans can choose platforms and candidates. Our government is currently, for the most part, controlled by Democrats and Republicans. Thus national policies and legislation are basically steered and molded by either or both of the two major parties. However, tension constantly mounts between Republican and Democratic factions, causing partisan rivalry and petty backbiting. This tends to overshadow the intended purpose of helping citizens. In the eyes of many cynical outsiders, the two-party system is viewed upon as one partisan conglomerate attempting to defeat the other in a selfish quest for power and prestige.
My proposal is to open up better resources and press coverage on a widespread scale to less-established third parties whom are virtually invisible to the mainstream public eye. By federal allocation, third parties could receive monetary matching funds from the government equivalent to those enjoyed by the two major parties. Applicable recipients may include, but not be limited to, such independent parties as the Reform, Green, Communist, Libertarian, Socialist, and Free Soil Parties. This way, lesser-known party organizations would be provided with a more equal playing field to promote and fund their platforms, gaining increased media attention via TV ads and campaign paraphernalia.
One might argue that in a multi-party scenario voters would become divided to a point where no clear popular majority could exist. But is that necessarily true? When it comes to addressing crucial issues, innovative and appealing solutions will likely catch on with the general public, regardless of which party presents the ideas. Through steps such as mandatory inclusion in televised debates and interactive "town-meetings," more candidates could express their views to a wider variety of voters. Candidates from all recognized parties would be allowed to appear on ballots in all fifty states.
This improved ballot access would be sending a message to future generations that all facets of the American political spectrum are fairly represented. Yet, at our political status quo members of smaller parties do not have fair access to communicate with the mainstream public. When the two-party system dominates, congressional bills and legislation are compromised and watered down. In other cases, officials are forced to side with either the liberal or conservative establishment, resulting in attitudes of "groupthink."
But if our legislative branch was to be, for lack of a better term, "infiltrated" by party representatives other than Republicans and Democrats, the nation's atmosphere for democracy would most likely become more eclectic. A diverse range of congressional participants could encourage much more civic activism from high school and college students. With fewer representatives towing one of two established party lines, the burden and malaise of having to choose "the lesser of two evils" may be alleviated among young people, consequently increasing active interest from America's youth regarding our political system. We must question why political ideology must be so limited in the first place, as it presently is, when the best interest of the public good is at stake. A politician does not have to have the word "Democrat" or "Republican" stamped across his or her forehead in order to be intelligent and effective.
Of course, there are significant steps which, at the very least, should be taken to reform the two-party system itself. When candidates vie for a party's nomination, all fifty state primaries should be held on the same day. This way, candidates would be forced to campaign nationally, rather than clustering in specific key states to compete for particular voters. By federal law, "Primary Day" would be made a national holiday in late-spring. For less disruption to weekday work schedules, "Primary Day" could fall on a Saturday or Sunday. In order to preserve the personal privacy of each citizen's vote, all existing state caucuses would be eliminated. Every state should have "open primaries" rather than requiring voters to register as either a Democrat or Republican. In this spirit, downplaying the formality of party registration would show voters how each vote truly matters, regardless of whom one wishes to support.
I call for an abolition of the Electoral College in the General Election. The president would be determined by direct popular vote. This will show young people that the concept of "one person, one vote" actually means something! Every citizen's vote would collectively accumulate, as opposed to only one candidate winning all of one state's electoral votes. Election Day would also be made a national holiday and possibly shifted to the weekend, conveying its significance and democratic necessity.
Voting is a sacred privilege which all eligible Americans should take the utmost advantage of. However, we must realize that in order to expect mass political participation, especially from future generations, we need to format our political system according to standards of reasonable flexibility, straight-forwardness, and common sense. How can citizens be expected to vote if we are not fully aware of who and what we have the options of voting for? In order for us to carry out our civic responsibility as Americans, this information and opportunity must be made more easily available to us in a simple, fair, and concise manner. Although we cannot realistically remove complete bias from politics, the least we can do is expose citizens to a full array of opinions, ideas, perspectives, and solutions. Only then will the United States be a place where all voters, both young and old, may make a truly informed choice.
Essay themes: Need powerful youth group, akin to the AARP
As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, lack of voter turnout has been a concern not only for presidential and congressional elections, but also for student government. I believe that electing an official is one of the few ways an average citizen can participate in our republic. That is why I am frustrated at the low percentage of voter turnouts. The issues that I believe play into strongly why so many people do not vote are many. This essay will outline the solutions to this problem and why I feel these ideas could actually work.
The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) is an organization for student government which represents the voice of over 40,000 students at my university. The last election brought about a pathetic 4% voter turnout. Many ideas were put into action to try and bring back credibility to this organization. Unlike presidential, senatorial, or congressional elections, these few individuals in ASM have direct influence on where segregated fees are allotted and many important campus issues are decided. Many people think that this low voter turnout is a result of being apathetic. This is the main issue that needs to be addressed for the youth of America. I believe that more youths would vote if they thought their vote would actually make a difference. Certainly no individual vote matters nearly as much as a group of voters. The youth of today is out of touch with topics that are important to adults. The rest of this essay will deal with the idea of making an individual youth become part of a group to which the singular voice will ring loud in the halls of the Oval Office.
For the youth of today, no one wants to be labeled. By "labeled", I mean a Democrat or a Republican. The widespread lies, the corruption of government, and the whole stance of power in politics leaves many issues undecided when voting for a typical candidate. Being an active member of today's youth, I share this opinion. To solve the lack of voter turnout, interest is needed for younger generations. There are no powerful lobbying groups like the A.A.R.P for a young person to affiliate and be heard. More youth groups discussing issues that pertain to our needs, the idea of internet voting with encryption capabilities, and a platform that focuses on the future will attract more youth. The only thing now needed is something to 'get the ball rolling.' I believe that voting could become very popular with younger eligible voters if they see their peers going to vote as well. Then affiliating with an organization that focuses on issues like education and in specific grants, scholarship opportunities, and a guaranteed spot in a college classroom would greatly increase the percentage of youths that vote. So, now that the problem is addressed, a solution has been proposed, this essay will now show why this could work and the steps that need to be taken to do so. A youth organization where ideas are discussed along with topics not related strictly to politics is the ideal in my mind. A person knowing that they are going to a political meeting will clearly disinterest many youths. If they knew they were going to a place with their friends to discuss issues, eat, relax, and think about the future, I believe many more would attend. Finding a political identity in a group like this could do unimaginable things to the political process. Instead of media debates, high school gyms could be filled with eager young people inquiring why this individual will represent their needs while in office. The future will hold many untold truths but one thing for sure is certain. The youth of today needs to be well informed to make more correct decisions, act in a timely manner, and reform the political process back to where one vote truly mattered. In all large cities, these new political youth groups could be advertised.
A great type of media to do this would be the Internet. With many youth not having a computer, church groups, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts could be a great place to start this group. The reason for this is that typically these young individuals are intelligent, already belong to a group, and would have the best chance at convincing others to join. After the group is formed, advertising and corporate sponsorship would finance the groups. An adult could be present to watch and lead discussions as well as offer advice along the ways. The simple idea of a political youth group could very well reduce the complexity that many see with the current situation in politics.
Essay themes: Internet voting; engagement of young people
Political participation by young people is a very important part of our country's future. Unfortunately, today's youth seem to be less and less interested in politics. There are several things that young people overlook. Many young people seem to not care who is running the country. This attitude towards how our country is run is unsafe and undemocratic. The reason for our being a democratic country is for everyone to be involved with our country's affairs. Not only one person can change how things are run. It takes many people to get something done. That is why it is very important for me and young people to participate in politics. If less people care then less people will vote and share their ideas on how things can be run. These very same people that don't participate constantly complain that they never have any freedoms. What young people don't understand is that they can have any freedom they want. They only need to participate in political functions and exercise freedoms they all ready have, such as voting. Young people haven't lived long enough to totally appreciate what people have went through in the last 100 years. Now it is easy for them to say 'I don't care' because they can get whatever they want with little effort. If our country fell back from its high place, the story would be different. Our grandparents never had it so easy. They worked for what they got and they built today's country on that principle. They knew they had to stand up for what they believed in or they would lose what they had worked for. This spirit has been dying down as it has become easier to maintain a good life.
Young people also become less interested in how politics works after they see some people succeed, not because they work hard and do a good job, but because they give large amounts of money to political parties or politicians. This creates an atmosphere of unfairness in our political beings which leads to less support for their party. Often politicians blame young people for several problems which are not even caused by youth. It seems that politicians like to blame youths to gain support in other age groups that can vote. Young people aren't given respect. Respect is very important to youths and youths are uninterested in politics when they are not given a chance to prove themselves as worthy American citizens because of their age. This leads to the first viable solution.
Lowering the voting age may have some benefits. There are many things which are determined by ones age. Which leads to another question. When are young people considered adults? It's hard to say. The age when youths are given more responsibility is18. Yet, in they eyes of the court people as young as 12 and 14 years old can be charged as an adult. Which makes one wonder why 18 is the age in which people are treated as adults, when young people get the same punishment when they are younger then 18 and don't get the same rights which are guarantied to an 18 year old. It is important that people decide when adulthood starts and have all rights granted to them then. This, like most of the solutions, can be experimented with at the state level.
A very popular reform is Internet voting. This solution would bring the task of voting in the home. It could be easy to set up, but there would be a possibility for fraud and corruption through Internet tampering.
An argument against an increase in 3rd party access would
be our country is based on a winner takes all principle. That
is why we only have two parties.
Another way to get young people to vote would be to hold political events in local schools. Let the politicians go to schools and teach why it is so important for young people to vote. Once young people understand the importance of participating they may vote.
In conclusion, young people must understand the importance of their participation in politics. How is a politician going to know what to do if only certain people vote? It seems illogical not to vote. Young people's views and ideas are just as important as anyone else's. The most important point which I can make is that nothing written can decrease political empathy in young people. If an increase in political participation is to be made than it would have to be through politicians meeting and associating with young people.
Essay themes: Lower voting age; education
As the 21st century begins, political participation by young people has risen greatly. We, as young people, have been learning about politics since a very young age. We have many opportunities to take what we have learned to a higher level then the generations before us. There are more school organizations and clubs, there are also more outside of the school that we are able to get involved with. We have more role models that inspire us in better ways; role models help us to move in the right directions. There are still some ways that could increase the number of young people who participate in politics, such as lowering the voting age. When we reach high school we take on hard classes like Western Civilization where some teachers can create a simulation similar to the government where we can create bills and bring them up to the pretend cabinet and watch how bills go through congress and the House of Representatives. We learn how people have different views, which can make it tough to pass laws. This helps us experience and get a better understanding of the government.
High school is where we show that we are truly ready for the next step. As young people get more chances to take responsibilities in schools, we have more opportunity to get ready for the real political participation. That is why we campaign and go out for things like class president or class officers. Being class president, one takes on a lot of responsibility; he or she must make decisions that can affect the school in a big way much like how the president has to make decisions that affect our nation. We also have a vice president that aids the president just like the United States vice-president. There are also clubs like FBLA, Future Business Leaders of America, which enables us to take our knowledge and compete with others across the state.
There are also organizations that are outside of the schools that we can join. These include Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America. This is where we can earn merit badges such as citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, and citizenship in the world. Their badges teach us a lot about politics and even give us awards for doing so. The badges increase our ranks, in Boy Scouts you would work towards Eagle. Upon achieving these ranks or goals one can feel the sense of accomplishment. Both organizations involve a lot of time and effort including many hours of community service. In the oaths for both organizations we state that we promise to do our duty to God and our country, and to help other people at all times. Saying the oaths are proving that we want to learn and participate in our country and for some, even in politics.
Young people may also watch television or read the newspapers. During voting times we can sit with our parents and watch the campaigns on the news channels. When we finally turn eighteen, this is where the excitement begins. We, ourselves get to vote and choose between Republican and Democrats. Along with this we get the true feeling of participating in politics. If the government were to lower the voting age, we could experience this earlier. The long rode we took to get this far is finally paying off; we get to help choose what goes on in the United States. Many of us are taking on more responsibility in obeying the laws that the political parties pass, maybe this is because we have a greater understanding of what several people went through to get the laws passed.
If we were able to help in the decisions of passing laws there would be even more young people obeying them, this would also cause more people to become involved in politics. As the amount of political participation increases, it seems like the amount of crime among young people decreases. I see fewer people skipping school or becoming truant. The young people today are becoming overall better citizens. Today there are more young people who have part time jobs. The jobs are a huge responsibility and make it harder to get good grades in school and there is less time for the fun stuff, but we have shown that it is possible. With the jobs we are contributing to the state and federal governments by paying taxes.
Some of us even use our money to donate things like clothes and toys. Some even donates time through volunteer programs. Donating time or money to charity helps the nation by trying to decrease the poverty level and the number of people who have hunger or disease. The children of today cannot take all of the credit for their successes. We owe a lot of it to our role models. The people such as our parents, teachers, coaches, and even the president of the United States have inspired us to learn and become better people. The role models of this nation have truly helped us along the narrow road we have taken. Some of us know that we will become one of those role models one day and we hope that we can play the part just as well as the generation before us did. As we proceed through the 21st century, we hope to keep teaching young people the importance of politics. We hope to become even better role models then the last and create more opportunities for young people to get involved. If everyone keeps working together just as hard this nation will get even better than it is right now.
Essay themes: Improved transparency for young people; Internet voting; education
How much do you know about politics? Well if you participate in politics a lot then you would not be asking yourself this question. It is now the 21st century and the world of technology is taking over. We need to increase the political participation. There are many ways of making the participation better. Some of the things that will help are teen voting, teen role models, Internet voting, required debates, and more advertising. "We don't know enough. We need to discuss different issues and concerns that involve the age group that we are talking to. This will get the viewers to participate in the discussion," stated Wisconsin's state senator Robert W. Wirch.
I feel the school system needs to get involved more. Bringing in politicians to talk to high school students would educate and receive opinions from the students. There are many valid points that teens can bring about because they are aware of things that go on in their environment that adults may not know. As a high school student, I do not feel like we are educated on politics enough. Public speakers need to bring up issues that involve us such as: driving age, drinking age, and peer pressure topics. This would get the kids flowing with concerns and opinions on how they feel about the issues. Kids like to talk about things they can relate too. What kid would want to listen to something that does not concern them or they have no control over?
It is important to get teens involved early though so that they will be future voters and maybe even politicians. Since teens are the future, we want to make sure they are well prepared. Voting is important because we can voice our opinion and get a better understanding of what is going on in the government and the world. When I was in junior high school we had a Law Day. This was open to any students that were interested. We went to our city and visited the courts and they taught us some duties of the government. Then they told us that we could go to the capital, Madison. I think everyone that went wanted to go but they said they could only allow a few students from each school. We had to write essays on why we wanted to go to Madison and why it would benefit us. I won along with three other students from my school. We learned a lot more interesting facts about the government and how hard it is to run the government. I had a great time and so did the rest of the students. It was too bad that other students did not get the chance to enjoy the experience. This is why I feel that we need to have more chances like this for students to attend.
Parents are also the key to political participation. Everyone knows that kids like to shadow their parents and other adults. They like to feel like they are grown up too. By participating in politics the parents are setting good examples and being good role models for their kids. When they grow up they would be more likely to vote and join clubs related to politics. Kids learn from their parents so what our world will be like in the future will have to be how well we educate our kids. The number of people that do not vote is outrageous.
Maybe by having Internet voting available would increase the amount of people that vote. I know some people probably do not have access to an Internet so we still should continue to have the traditional way an option also. I just feel that by giving people the choice between the two would increase the voting rate. Using the Internet would make voting quicker and easier. Voters would not have to worry about the crowded booths and waiting to use them. Even finding away to get there might have been their problem.
When choosing the right candidates do we really know how qualified they are for the job? That is why I feel we should have required debates. By having more debates would show us how the candidates would react in a certain situation. Most candidates write out what the viewers want to hear and do not really mean what they say. Debates are unpredictable so there is not a way they would be prepared for the questions they might be asked. Especially when the debates get shot back-and-forth at each other, this puts them on the hot spot. The truth and the way they would handle things would show us what we want to know about the candidates.
Making it easier for us to decide and feel comfortable on whom we are choosing to lead us. Have you ever had a catchy advertisement on television stick in your head all day long? We need to have more promotions and advertisements going on about voting. I know that I hardly ever know where, when and what we are voting on. There is not enough advertising. Instead of having all of the non-sense commercials why not have commercials promoting teen voting? When teens see things on television they think wow that must be something every teen does except me. Since our society is so conformed, most teens are followers and will not do things on their own. By doing these few things I feel is not asking for much and I am sure that it would make the 21st century political participation a bigger success then it has been in the past. I just hope more people become better educated on politics and participation. We could make our world a lot easier and a lot more the way we would like it. Teens have a big impact on the future and I am hoping they are ready for it, and I hope people are willing to change their ways.
Essay themes: Attention must be paid to young people
In this essay, I am supposed to discuss how political participation by young people is "plummeting". Unfortunately, I disagree with that entire statement, so I am taking a different approach in writing this. You have made a statement to which I can find nothing but contrary evidence. You have obviously judged a group of people (youth) without looking at the full spectrum of us. I honestly hope that I am not the only person who has written an essay that defends us as a group. Young people participate in politics as much as, if not more than, adults do. In my school there is a class called Advanced Civics. This class is offered only on even numbered years, so the students can actively participate in an electoral campaign. In 1998, we learned about political processes, then applied our knowledge. After weeks of activities throughout the school, we held an election. Over 70% of the students at my school gave up part of their lunch hour (which is only a half-hour long) to stand in line and wait to vote in our governor's race. This is well over the average of adults who go to vote. These were kids between the ages of 14 and 18 who gave up eating to vote. I
have many friends who are more politically involved than any adults that I know. Three of my best friends worked with the Secret Service in Green Bay, last year, when the Vice-President came to speak. They were also actively involved with a campaign committee for Jay Johnson. My school has a small school paper. Our paper averages between 15 to 20 pages per issue. It is not very long, but it is sufficient. With the approach of a presidential election, we have dedicated at least one page of each issue since November to our "Political Corner." Granted, not everyone reads it, but a majority of students do. After a few weeks ago, I turned to CNN on the television. On it, there was a group of young adults who called themselves Youth Vote 2000. I only half paid attention to the television as I was getting ready for work at the same time. From what I got, this was simply a group of youth who were getting involved with politics. One thing that may make youth appear to not be politically active is the fact that we are not allowed to do much. We can talk and campaign all that we want, but we are not given the right to vote. Too often, our voices are not even listened to.
Right now, my school is trying to drop 22 of our advanced classes. They are doing this to save money. That may sound like a good idea financially, but the students have been fighting it the best that we can. We have started petitions and we are going to the school board on February 14. Our biggest fear is that no one will listen. A few years ago, a student petition was brought to school board. I forget what the issue is that was being discussed, but the school board refused to look at the petition. They felt that since no one on the list was old enough to vote we did not matter. How can they say that our opinion does not matter, when their choice affects us and only us? I see that happening all too often in the political system. Politicians pass laws that affect young people without asking us how we feel. Even if an issue is voted upon, we have no say in it. The easiest thing to fix the presumed problem of our lack of participation would be to listen to us. If you truly care and are interested in our futures, ask us what we think about the issues that affect us. Everyone has an opinion, but we only yell for so long without being listened to. Everyone's spirit can be broken if they are ignored. So, please stop ignoring us and stop making accusations that our political participation has "plummeted."
Essay themes: Do not lower the voting age; 2-day vote period; debates
As the Legislative Affairs Director of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Student Government, I have experienced first hand the rapid decline in voter turnout. This is a trend that is very disturbing to me and my fellow cabinet members. There is any number of things that could be tried to increase voter turnout, but none of them, of course, are guaranteed to work. One option that might be tried is to make voting stations more accessible. This is something that would be very easy to do and would almost guarantee an instant increase in voter turnout. Many people that I have talked to say that they do not vote because it is just too hard to find time out of their busy schedule of work and studies to locate an official voting booth and actually take themselves there to place an official vote.
Lowering the voting age would be sure to increase voter turnout, but I don't think that would be a wise decision. I say this because many people that have just reached voting age really are not truly aware of what is actually going on in the democratic process. Because of this reason, I feel that the voting age should not be increased. Along these same lines, many young people have access to the Internet. This is another form of voting that I believe would be detrimental to the voting process. It would be very difficult to limit each registered voter to only one ballot. With so many different names and passwords that people have, there are just too many loopholes to overcome to guarantee a safe and fair election.
One option that I think might be a feasible one is to have a 2-day period where voters can come and cast a vote. By having two days to vote, people will realize that they may have missed the first day, but will still have a chance to cast their vote the next day. I can't even imagine the number of people I have heard say, " Oh, I didn't even know that today was Election Day" when I asked them if they voted. This option will help eliminate the ignorance issue for potential voters.
Debates are something that is a very valuable tool for both the candidates and the registered voters. If every candidate was required to participate in at least one debate, they would feel that they have done their part to reach out to the people and the voters can no longer say that they do not know what each candidate stands for, unless they refused to attend the debate. I believe that it would be wise for each candidate to schedule a number of debates on different college campuses. Many college students do not "waste their time" and vote. This is a very potent pool of voters that is not too often tapped by certain candidates. I know for a fact that the last voter turnout at UW-Whitewater for the Student Body President position was less than 5%. I asked people why they thought this was, and they stated that they didn't feel comfortable voting for people that they knew nothing about. This is very discouraging to me, because I feel that if a candidate doesn't care enough to let people know their platform issues, I will be the first to say that I don't want them holding an office. Communication is something that is very important when running for public office, and debates are a way of making everything public.
The idea of making Election Day a holiday is, to me, ridiculous. If, by making election day a holiday, that will get people out to vote, I am not sure that the vote that is cast by those people is a very worthwhile vote. It is just another excuse for people not to work. The lazy man that refuses to work is nothing but a weight on society. Do you really think that he cares who is elected into office? I know that I don't. There is one option, however, that might make this work. Federal officials can make Election Day a paid holiday, but for workers to collect their pay, they must present a voter stub that proves that they cast a vote on that day. This will not guarantee that the vote that is cast will necessarily be a true vote from the heart, but I feel that it is a good start in the right direction.
There are many things that are wrong with the democratic election process today. Low voter turnout is one of them. However, there are not many foolproof solutions to this problem. The above are some suggestions that might work and some reasons that some options might not. The only true way that this problem might be solved is if some long-term research is done on the subject to gather some raw data. The data could then be analyzed to determine any possible solutions to increase the voter turnout. Whoever this responsibility might fall upon, I wish them the best of luck. Their challenge is great.
Essay themes: Increase patriotism
Why Has Politics Plummeted With Young People? As the 20th century ends and we step into the 21st century political participation from young people continues to drop. There are many reasons why young people decline to participate in today's political forum. Statistically there is no visible reason why. My finding are strictly on what I hear from other teens and what I see in my own pursuit of a political stand. There seemed to be fall in patriotism starting in the 1960's and continued into today.
The Vietnam War caused young people to rebel against the government. For the first time in history, a war was televised with all its devastation and injustice. The United States joined a civil war and called it a police action. It became apparent as the "police action was underway" that Americans were at war and many young men were dying. Not only did America's youth see their own friends dying but also children from Vietnam slaughtered. The war found United States with huge disgrace sitting on their shoulders. Everybody knew what was going on in the war because of news broadcasts, which stirred up people's right to petition for peace to the government. Without peace many people turned their patriotism away from the United States. Young people saw the government in charge of their destiny and their peace demonstrations impacted the government very little.
Regardless if people admit it or not, war endorses patriotism and participation in politics because young people do know their rights. If those rights are threatened by others, they know what can happen. Youth would do almost anything for their countries freedom and their own. The Untied States freedom has not been threatened by war for a long time. That is why today's youth feel secure in their freedom. Television and news produces another huge push for politics. Mass media gives another negative vision of politics with everyday movies, so called news shows and documentaries from various political standings.
The media often portrays a false image, but most people, including youth, like to believe them because it's on television and confuse it as fact. As for the news, it rarely shows anything with a hint of goodness and often portrays the politicians as deceitful. It is no wonder youth today stays away from the political forefront. In addition a force draft, can take youth away from involvement in government. The draft was the worst thing a family could go through during Vietnam. Having your friends and family forced into the military fighting for what the country believes in and not necessarily what you believe, forces division in a country. Although right now the draft isn't in affect, men still have to sign up for the draft when they turn eighteen. While there are many people who still want to join the military, there are many who want nothing to do with it unless they have no other way to pay for college. Rebellion against government policy causes division in the United States and rebellion causes disloyal political involvement.
People fear that the government's power will take over the rule of it's people. Some activists believe that the government only helps the wealthy and powerful figures not the average everyday middle and lower class citizens. Tax laws are different for the wealthy. The wealthy seem to control government policy and decisions. Middle class people pay more percentage in taxes in comparison to the rich. Yet they make up more than 50% of the population. Whenever there is a crisis in the United States like a depression the government has acts without consulting the people. It often causes more weight on the governments deficit and more taxes on the shoulders of Americans. The repercussions created are debt that will last for generations to come and senior citizens without any support as social security runs out. Government seems to have more control than ever. Young people worry about losing their rights given to them by the Constitution. They take advantage of their given rights.
Young people today figure their rights have been placed and there is little concern. People of the generation X complain that nothing is right, government is corrupt, or that nobody wants to listen. Young people today need to realize their impact is important to survival of their ultimate rights as United States citizens. Involvement of generation X could come from more information about political parties within the schools. Instead of having government class learning about the laws and the parties in the government. Let the students research not only their political leaders but the political leaders policies as well. For example, the right to bear arms is being looked at right now. It is no surprise that many people are being killed because of guns, but flat out taken guns away won't change that. There needs to be stronger and stricter laws against using guns. Taking guns away would flat out result in a huge revolt. Imagine just because guns kill and they were taken how about cars. Young people need to know once their right to bear arms is gone than what is next the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Without the rights to bear arms we won't be able to protect ourselves if our freedom of speech right is taken away. With these two rights gone we are wide open for total government control. No more democracy, we might as well go back to medieval way of government, corrupt kings. Young people need to know what is in stake if they do not get involved in politics. By making school programs that let them know what direction politicians are voting and what rights are being voted, these young adults can feel an important part to the outcome of the United States. Most young people just don't care for politics right now for many reasons the country has brought onto itself. Things can change, if the government wants more participation from young people they have to find things that affect them directly. Get involved in recruiting them in the whole political process, Otherwise, generation X will give up on government policies and be content in the ruling of politicians as a whole.
Essay themes: Electoral college reform; generational allocation of votes
The Issues at Hand
Equality is a fundamental American ideal. Over time this concept has come to include more people. Today no laws infringe upon an individual's social rights based on race; yet our political rights still remain in jeopardy. Our country stands at a doorway looking into the future.
We begin not only a new century, but also a length of time about five times our nation's current age. This gives me cause to ponder out current state of affairs. As the sun rises on the dawn of a new era, we as a people must elect our leader. Currently I see our country spinning its wheels too caught up in the bipartisan government we once relied upon to save our country. (When a nation refuses to sign a ban on nuclear tests because they are afraid it will make the other side look better the only thing we should feel is shame). I will turn eighteen after the primaries but still in time to vote this fall; where once people felt proud or empowered by their right to vote, I feel frightened and powerless, sadly I know I am not alone. People have gone to war and died to give me the right to vote, and now once again our right to vote is imperiled by political machines and financial giants. These machines hold sway over what issues our nation addresses, and my education screams at the injustice that their vote may count more than mine. This revulsion is not founded in jealousy but rather fundamental philosophical principles with regards to politics. The system must change.
Our current system, created in a different time, is antiquated and unable to meet the needs of a world full of more ethnic groups and corporate conglomerations. Though, in place of revolution, I propose reformation in order to grant the underdog their much-deserved voice. Currently majority decides all issues, but in appealing to the larger and more popular issues, the smaller but equally important issues fall to the background never addressed. The problem that plagues this country and our presidential candidates is size, too many people reside within our borders to be able to address all of them individually. The solution lies within the Electoral College. Currently, so long as a candidate procures a majority of the voting populace, they win one-hundred-percent of the electoral vote. Candidates will therefore stretch their beliefs to coincide with as many people's positions as possible. The issue itself is no longer important, but rather how many people will vote for that particular stance; the problem is that this often results in switching of or contradictions in positions. A classic and current example arises when we observe the republican candidate. In order to gain the Republican nomination the candidate must be pro-life in order to gain the support of the Christian right wing. Then in the actual election, the nominee must swing their opinion away from pro-life to gain the support of the moderates, independents, and republicans who do not agree with the Christian right. This serves to illustrate how candidates attempt to capture votes of a particular segment of the demographic; more often than not the 18-21 year-olds fall outside these brackets. Young adults are not targeted because they do not vote, and they do not vote because they are not targeted. I propose to interrupt this cycle by granting importance not only to underrepresented segments of the populace but also to the actual issues. I propose we break down the electoral votes by demographic and issue. Thus, each segment receives equal representation with their vote, and then the presidential nominees must appeal to the underrepresented. It seems arbitrary that electoral votes depend solely on where one lives. By taking the votes to a more specific level, the elderly and the young alike will receive equal representation. Perhaps a division based on ethnicity could help find solutions for racial issues by giving minorities a voice. In a nutshell, each of the votes in the Electoral College should represent a part of the demographic. i.e. eighteen to twenty-one-year-olds receive an electoral vote which they may apply to whichever candidate they support; likewise, forty to forty-five-year-olds receive a separate vote to apply how they see fit. Each age group would receive equal votes until the total added up to the state's allotment. Yet we should not just break it down to cross-sections of society as that would stymie equality and foment racism and ageism.
I propose we change what the populace votes for. Before the primaries our nation would select through the original Electoral College procedure which issues are most important. Then throughout the election candidates focus on these issues, and on voting day each person votes issue by issue for their candidate. This means electoral votes would exist for both segments of the populace and issues. This would allow me to vote for one candidate's opinion on one issue and another candidate's opinion on another issue. In this manner I would vote for the opinion of the issue that I most agree with not the lesser of however many evils. Thus, a candidate must win a majority of issues with a majority of the cross-sections of society in order to become president. This will force candidates to focus on a more diversified cross-section of society. Additionally, this system will cause a higher voter turn out as a group of one thousand voters could actually make a difference unlike now. Finally, a separate category for ages 18-21 would provide additional pressure, and attention on our youth to vote as they as a group would control a certain number of electoral votes. I feel by allowing the underrepresented a voice, we could then hear many once silent people begin to speak and strengthen the success of our democracy.
Essay themes: Lack of honesty in US politics
Like sweaty, brown socks, politics has developed a putrid smell. We young, devoted men and women once crowded voting boxes wanting to do our duty and serve the "good old US of A," but now we shrug our shoulders at election times and say something similar to "God I hate politics." Many sociologists attribute it to the rise in population or a non-normative historical graded influence. Others argue that we are a new, uncaring culture. The cause of young people not visiting the voting polls is much simpler. We are tired or being lied to by men and women in shiny, black suits. As a result, faith in our leaders has diminished.
Recently, President Clinton desecrated his marriage vows by cheating on his wife with one of his interns. We are not abysmally ignorant of the affairs that occur between other married couples, but we have never been subjected to our country's president doing it. The president of the United States has a responsibility to be a good role model for all of his or her citizens. President Nixon also betrayed our trust in the whitewater affair. We were only children when this happened, but people don't forget lies. The media, one of the culprits who assist in giving politics its stink, convinces us not to respect political figures, and they want us to believe that we are forever doomed to having immoral and devious people in power. We flinch from the dirty sock after having it slapped in our face and, like anyone responding to an unpleasant stimulus, avoid it all together. We flip the channel when a presidential debate airs because we can't stand to see the black suited people shooting word bullets like angry mob goons. A seemingly decent man or woman turns into a verbally abusive cad.
Enough is enough. We want people to win an election discussing all of the issues. Natural resources like water and trees continue to disappear, people that are homeless dream of finally getting a break, and women, after all of this time, still average less pay than men do. We want politicians to re-examine their priorities and stop being petty. We can decide who we want to vote for without knowing every, single thing they've eaten for breakfast. We don't respect politicians who point their fingers at their opponents. In fact, we leer at them as their shiny suits fade into dull distrust. Our ability to see through a true phony is severely under-estimated. We have the ability to tell right from wrong. Even though all cultures have some variation on what is exactly right and wrong, universally, our views are the same. When someone is lying, they reek of distrust. We all also have an underlying thirst for justice. For example, the students at Columbine High School travel to other states to speak out about violence to try and stop similar events from happening. These students could have let the whole experience be forgotten. After all, the students who terrorized the high school were dead. Columbine High School is led by their sense of justice. They didn't get the opportunity to imprison the predators, so in order to quench their thirst; they needed to make sure that something like this never happens again. Debating over the convenience of voting, lowering the voting age, or even making election day a national holiday is exceedingly silly, in comparison to the larger picture of what has driven us away from voting. In the nineteen fifties, some people walked four miles to place their vote. They believed that the person that they had chosen would do a good job. Consequently, if people are motivated by pride, they will vote. Young people demand honesty. If a politician were genuinely honest, we would vote for them and have total faith in their ability to represent. Half-truths and lies have been fed to us like dry oatmeal; they are bland, but they do not slide down our throat easily. Truth has become a vastly unique quality to us.
Politicians will need to start talking about things that will effect our generation after they are gone. Education issues are important. We want the children of this country the best life they can possibly have. they deserve a chance to use their talents and be happy. In addition, social security issues must be addressed. We want the program to be there when we are retired. So, we know that energy must be spent on social security reforms. However, we want to discuss the environment and see serious action being taken to preserve it. We want reassurance that there will be a world worth voting in left. Everything else is secondary.
It is time to fling that dirty sock into the wash. We can have an election that appeals to all ages. We need to make honesty a priority. People that are truthful are respected above all others. They give people hope and motivation. We can also have an election that doesn't allow degradation of character and dignity. Since kindness is now looked as a weakness, it should be transformed into strength. Universal kindness guarantees goodness. Politicians need to use it as a tactic. Finally, we can focus on the immediacy of some issues as they compare with others. All of the issues that are not getting attention will be revealed. As a result, people will flood the voting polls. Politicians will be chosen by a larger part of the population. Until then, we will finch away from the dirty sock and avoid its rotten odor.
Essay themes: Corruption and commercialization in government; improving connections between the government and the people
In response to plummeting political participation by young people, political figures have tried extraordinary unnecessary feats in an attempt to spark the political fire in young hearts. Such events as MTV's Rock the Vote, or American Legion's mock state government camps where patriotism is driven into youth. The problem lies in America itself, America was founded upon ideal principals which the generation of the 21 century doesn't see as deeply crested in their modern government as they do in their history books. That which destroys the 21st century youth's political participation is a lack of knowledge of the mission of the government around them, their fear of a commercialized government, their knowledge of corruption in the government, and the lack of a feeling of importance as a voter. This essay shall first explore the sources of conflict with modern government and modern American youth, and then go on to offer solutions to those troubles.
Many middle aged citizens have offered the solution that young people do not vote or get involved in Government because they are lazy, and have it far too easy. This may be true since many young Americans don't even know when elections are or where to vote in their community, nor do they make any attempt to find out. However, were these youthful citizens to make it to a voting booth would they be able to make an educated decision as to who they should vote for? Without doing extensive research it is hard for a young voter or any voter for that matter, to know what a candidate stands for and against. The reason for this hardship is that the candidate seldom comes right out and says what they are for or against. To do so would incriminate him/her to what may be an unpopular view by the majority of their constituency. Therefore without looking up previous voting records or observing many debates an average young citizen is left with only a few catchy slogans or ambiguous ideas of others to help them in the task of choosing an official.
The youth of America are afraid of our government becoming no more than a large business that is trying to sell them something. In the case of the government, the product being sold is a 40-year-old lawyer who wants to become your leader. The fear is that with so many products in today's market that don't live up to their promises, that candidates will be the father of the same disappointments. When the a new campaign ad for a candidate is first preceded by a commercial for diapers, it cheapens the system somehow. The youth of today see the commercials for candidates the same way they see the commercial for diapers, having nothing to do with an eighteen year old student, and neither are as soft and user friendly as they claim to be.
Corruption in the government has been exploited by the media frequently enough to break the trust of modern youth. No longer do youth believe the words of a government official or candidate, they believe there is always an underlying reason or hidden agenda for every action of an official. There is a growing fear that the government is hiding something from citizens and many times evidence arises which proves their fears were well founded. In a haystack of millions one vote for the most part does not sway the election one way or another. Knowing this young people believe that as an individual, their vote doesn't matter. Without ever meeting their officials, government, outside of law enforcement, is not visible to them and doesn't seem real. They never see their place in the large picture of American government. Without a feeling of importance in the government around them young America will never try to be a part of it. In order to end the start of a commercialized government the ad campaigns of candidates must become a thing of the past. The candidate's name doesn't need to become like a product that is sold in retail. Commercials for candidates don't work on a substantial amount of young people, because they do not believe what is being said anyway. By taking ad campaigns away from politics, as England has, government will seem less like a needy business and more like something profound and important.
Without commercials there is a void that must be filled, instead of corny slogans and slanderous statements used in political commercials, the truth of what a candidate intends must go forth in some form. A mission statement could be required by all candidates, in which they list their intent upon entering into office. Detailing important issues on their agenda and what they stand for. This statement of purpose could be posted on the Internet, in newspapers, or in voting booths. It would be a first step towards making political plans known to all citizens. With a statement that outlines a persons beliefs and intent so easily accessible it would be easier to make a rational decision.
In order to feel that they have a place in modern government, young people must see those who are their leaders, and must feel as if they can communicate with them on some level. Candidates as well as elected officials could have interviews by the public, in which they could go in front of their gathered constituents and be questioned. Not by the press, but by average people with average concerns. This, if done regularly on a personal level, would not only inform citizens of what's going on, but would break down the wall between them and politics as well as allow them to feel as if they have a hand in the movement of their government.
Lack of participation by youth in politics is not due to laziness, or a defiency in the intelligence of modern day youth. Young people today are dissatisfied with the lack of personal connection with their government, as well as the campaigning system in general. Reforms in outrageous campaigning strategies are needed in order to make politicians seem less like a commercialized business and more like the leaders of a great empire. Young Americans if informed on candidate's stances on issues, and if communicated with by their officials on a regular basis, will indeed finally take their places as American citizens and political leaders of the next generation.
Essay themes: Voter education; at home voting methods
Many younger adults do not feel that they can contribute to the voting process enough for it to make a difference in the outcome of the election. Therefore, they feel that it is not worth their time to go down to the polling center and cast their vote. The solution to this problem is two fold. The first part of the solution is to make the younger Americans feel that they actually are an active part of the political office. Many younger people do not possess a large amount of assets or have much standing in the community. This translates to not caring as much, what happens at the polls. Many do not see the profound effects that candidates can enjoy now and the power that their actions will have in the future. It should be stressed that by electing candidates that hold views that younger people agree or promote programs that will help these individuals when they get older, legislation can be passed affecting situations that they will have to embrace in the future, whether it be bad or good. This point should already be accentuated in many government and history classes.
The only way that many grade school or high school students would be persuaded to join in the voting masses would be if voting were stressed as an important duty and something that all adults should do. Such activities as mock elections within schools and showing the students how to operate a voting booth should increase desire and ability to participate. Many students may come from homes where voting is not a valued activity and may not even know where to vote, nor how. School programs could fix this situation by informing and trying to persuade students themselves to vote when they become of age and their parents. Registering voters is important, and exposure to voting has been had through programs such as MTV's "Rock the Vote". MTV is a station that is viewed my many younger Americans, so visibility is high to that age group. Registering voters during high school or within the schools themselves would be a start. Allowing high school students that are eighteen years of age should be allowed a reasonable amount of time to go and vote during school hours, and return bearing proof that they voted. Having cast a vote should be a matter of pride within the school and the community as a whole.
The second part of the solution is to change the process so that it becomes easier to vote. Making moves like voting by telephone and the Internet will only have an effect if the above step motivates people to vote and voting takes up only a few minutes. Many people perceive themselves as having a busy life, and many do not want to take a chunk of time out to vote. Many could see this as time wasted, especially if the people that they voted for lose their bid for the office. If voting were as simple as calling a toll-free number or signing onto a website and then indicating choices for candidates, I believe that many more people would vote. Caution must be used in setting up these telephone or Internet voting methods. If there are busy signals or slow loading websites, many people may get frustrated and give up, throwing their chance at influencing the electoral process away. Some solutions might be to dedicate many toll-free lines and set up a myriad of mirror sites for voting on the Internet. By having voting in the home, many people who are housebound or have no means of transportation can still vote. A lower voter turnout due to inclement weather will also be eliminated. The length of lines is a concern of many individuals, to whom their time is precious. With at-home voting methods, waits will be mostly eliminated and voting shall be a speedy procedure. There are many things that are good about our current way that votes are cast. Voting day should not be a holiday, as many people will take this chance to vacation, relax, and spend time with their families instead of voting. If it were made a holiday, voting numbers may indeed even drop.
Changing the voting age will not help gain a larger number
of participants in the electoral process; raising it would only
cut off more people from casting their vote and lowering it
would not gain many voters since eighteen is the age at which
many other privileges occur. Overall, the keys to increasing
the number of younger Americans that vote is twofold. First,
the educational aspect in showing younger people the importance
of voting must be instituted. Secondly, the ease of voting must
be increased by the above measures. Through these two measures,
the number of younger Americans that actively participate in
the electoral process will rise.