Angry and alienated

Here are three essays that demonstrated a sentiment expressed in what some might consider a surprising number of essays: anger. The essays are by Joshua Ferguson, Michael Schaubach and Brenda Peterson.

College student
Year of Birth: 1980

The major problem with essay questions like these, and the main reason why they never accomplish anything substantial, is simply because the question has missed the point. We have been asked why we are decreasingly involved with politics and political concerns; perhaps a better question would be why should we be more so?

We are a generation that learns from experience, that takes its truth not from the words of those in power, but rather from what we can observe with our own eyes and ears. We have been lied to countless times, in every way possible, and are starting to become jaded and indifferent to the entire thing. "When have I lied to you?" you ask, "When have I attempted to deceive you?" The deception you have offered lies not so much in intentional mistruth, but rather in things that we have seen, and it is a set of deceptions that we are reluctant to forgive you for.

We have been told that we live in a country where we are not judged by class or color, that we can be anything we want to be if we apply ourselves. But we have seen our brothers and sisters refused opportunities because of their skin or their place of birth, we have seen the subtle rejection by the middle and upper class toward our efforts to achieve. We are told that if we work hard we will succeed, but we have worked hard and been refused what we deserve, been called boy by those who do not understand us, been told that sexual favors are required for advancement. You have told us that the future is wide open, that we can do anything we want, and then refused to educate us with the preparatory skills we need to do so. We have seen the way you pour money into war and weaponry, and yet refuse to fund schools, or at least the schools that your children are afraid to attend. We are tired of the hypocrisy.

This is the reason that we care nothing for your political system, because we have been told that democracy is the way that the people rule and control our own nation, but we have seen repeatedly that "the people" are merely the rich, the privileged, the elite. I want to be president. But if I am a lower class African American girl, I have no chance. This is not what we are taught in our history and government books, but rather what we know from the world around us.

So why should we care? Our voice is not valued, our opinions not taken into consideration, our very existence is seen as a hindrance to progress, rather than a part of the system. So we drop out and take no part. We know that participating is merely a justification for you to continue doing whatever you think is in the best interests of the rich white America, and that our votes will do nothing but give you the right to claim our allegiance and support. I do not vote because I refuse to support any part of this system. I refuse to take responsibility for your actions, because I know that they do not in any way represent my needs and desires. So I have stopped caring.

I can suggest no changes, because I do not immediately see a solution you can offer, without massive restructuring of our political system. Perhaps a way to make it more realistic for the common people to take part by serving in office. That is, after all, what democracy is in the first place. Some way that we can take power without having millions of dollars at our disposal. All I ask is that if you expect us to take part in your games, that you at least give us a fair voice, and allow us to take the opportunities that we have been promised so many times before.

College student
Year of Birth: 1978

As a registered voter of Minnesota I have seen first hand what it takes to get the younger generation to vote. Rule number one: Throw out the term "younger generation" we hate that. It seems as though our, male-dominated-over-fifty-white-washed government system has a tendency to categorize, everything needs to be correlated and filed away. They ask questions like, "What do we do with the 'Native Americans'? How can we improve the lives of 'lower income families'" This type of fragmentation is far from strengthening our nation. We need to move away from numbers and categories and move towards a more Universal view. I realize that the problems I mentioned above are real issues and they need to be dealt with. But talking about minorities like they are the plague isn't going to help anything.

As you all know my governor is none other than Jesse the brain or body or whatever. On the day he was elected a wave of confusion swept the country. How did a Pro-Wrestler get elected to office? Simple, he spoke to everybody. Just to warn you this essay is not on how great Jesse is, personally I can't stand him. In every one of his speeches he addressed everybody, there were no boundaries, there were no dividers. Jesse didn't talk about the "rich" vs. the "poor", he didn't talk about "black" vs. "white," he talked about Minnesotans. As a result of this Jesse produced the greatest turn out of 18-24 year-old voters in Minnesota history.

This doesn't mean the Jesse is the smartest guy in the world. Frankly I feel that he stumbled upon the answer by accident (that is merely my opinion). What he figured out was that you must talk to the voters at eye level. One more time just in case you missed it. TALK TO THE VOTERS AT EYE LEVEL! Yes that's right, get down off of your soapbox and talk to us. We'd much rather be "talked too" than "talked about." This isn't about lowering the voting age or sending out flyers or making phone calls. This is about bringing politics back to its roots. What it was way back on the Mayflower. Everybody huddled around that table on that boat and decided the rules. I realize that the population of these United States has risen considerably since then but that is no excuse for moving away from our roots.

As a member of this so-called "younger generation" I have gotten quite detached from the political system. To me the government is simply a channel on television (C-SPAN), which I hastily flip by on my way to MTV or Animal Planet. I'm not saying that politicians need to get hip, or pretend they are twenty-one again. I'm actually saying the opposite. The politicians need to be who they are, fifty-year old white men. And I need to be who I am, a twenty-one year old dreamer who wants to make movies. Once we accept who we are then we can find a middle or common ground.

You have to realize that for most kids my age television is the most popular means of acquiring information. We turn on the TV and we see our elected officials screwing interns and building missiles and slaughtering thousands of innocent lives. And if that's all you see then that's all you know. If you knew only what was on TV would you go out and vote? This isn't about making a holiday out of some Tuesday in November every four years, or have voting on the Internet, this is about making a difference. If someone actually feels they can make a difference then they will vote.

I am tired of being lied to. If you want me to get up off the couch and fill in a bunch of little circles on a ballet you are going to have to work for it. I am not an easy sell. My first instinct is to NOT TRUST. And I almost sure that goes for a lot of people. Everybody says, "Voting is a constitutional right and we should feel proud to have it." Proud? PROUD? How do expect me to be proud of a system that only sees me as a social security number? When I vote I'm not Mike Schaubach, aspiring filmmaker who has a good heart and likes cats. No, when I vote I'm a white male 18-24. Maybe when politics addresses ME, I'll address politics. I realize I didn't give an easy solution to the problem. Maybe you were looking for some great invention by some college student that would solve the whole problem. If that is the case I apologize for making you read this letter. I will not blow smoke up anybody's ass, I tell it like I see it. Complicated problems have complicated solutions.

Yours truly,
White Male, 18-24

Willow Creek, CA
College student
Year Birth: 1979

Before addressing the possible bribes that could be used to prompt greater activity in politics and voting among peoples of my age, I think I must take a minute to address the root problem; why it is that we are not voting.

A great number of young adults have lost interest in the political system of this country. It is really quite simple- the power structure is not working in our favor, we see no great future achievements in legislation or politics, and we would much rather put our energies towards more fulfilling ends. The nature of politics in this country has progressed to a corrupt web of lies and deception that clearly favors the white male who spends his life working nine to five and has given his voice, his freedom, his manhood over to his government.

Those of us who refuse to succumb to this lifestyle find ourselves constantly battling to maintain even a base level standard of living. We have not chosen to close our eyes to the social conditions that surround us, and we have not chosen to be pretentious suburbians living life in a bubble of our own creation, fooling ourselves into believing that words and legislative acts will solve the many problems of these times.

We do not have much faith in the legislative system in America. We study our history, and realize that nothing has really changed, despite numerous amendments, acts, and programs. We find these to be simple attempts to pacify the masses in a scheme of the largest proportions to launder our riches and our wealth.

You ask why we do not vote or participate actively in politics. I ask why should we choose between two evils, two wrongs. You say we have the right to vote. I say, we have the wrong to vote and give you the wrong, not the right, to do more wrong. We are waking up to the social climate; one of hate, deception, and crime that has been nurtured from day one of the founding of this country.

We see constant hypocrisy in the history of this country, and a history of so-called "leaders" too weak and shameful to admit their wrongs and attempt to create some truth and justice. From the make-up of our "Founding Fathers" to the men in power today, we can not take genuine pride and we do not wish to follow in these footsteps. We know that, as voters, we do not have any real power of decision or choice. We know that we are only stooges playing along in a game that, in the end, will be our downfall. We know about the CIA, we know about the FBI, we know about the FDA and the WTO. We know that our needs are not being adequately met by our own government.

We know that the people who built this country are still treated as second class citizens, relegated to the despicable ghettos of the inner city, and forced to be dependent on ludicrous public assistance programs, McDonald's hamburger, and with no hope of owning land, owning a business, being independent and self-sufficient.

Today's youth can see the hypocrisy of working the nine to five job in search of a far-off pension plan and retirement benefits. We will not be blinded like our parents and grandparents. Unfortunately many of us have turned to drug business to make our fortune. We are killing ourselves off, caught in a trap, and we can not see our way out. What we need is our tax money to take care of the basics first. Food, clothes, shelter. A vast majority of this nation's citizens are not clothed, are hungry, and have no roof over their heads. How can we even begin to address the issue of political activity before solving the basic necessities of life?

I'll tell you why we are not voting- a great number of us are dead, dying, or in your prison system. The natural resources of this nation have been so depleted that this land is no longer self-sufficient. How can we begin to survive on a land that is stripped, raped, conquered? And how do we propose to repay the native peoples that we have abused for the last 500 years. The era of U.S. Supremacy and Western World Rule is coming to a rapid end. Our dynasty is quickly losing power and we are grasping at straws.

And you ask what can we do, how can we solve these problems and empower this younger generation? My message to you, to the men and women in charge, to the power structure of this country is to stop lying. Stop teaching lies and immorality through your downpressing practices and propaganda. Get your citizens fed, clothed, and under a roof, then start educating us. Give us some skills to enter into this rat race you have started. Give us computers, teach us to use them, and help us in our individual pursuits. Stop sucking us dry with taxes and fees, and give us financial assistance to start our independent pursuits. Repay the descendants of slaves and repay the Native Americans. Find some justice for the people of this country. Educate us on truth and the world. Don't shut us in a box, ignorant of the world community, perpetrating white supremacy and western "democracy." Give us something worthwhile to vote for and we might start showing up at the polls. Don't be afraid to admit the wrongs of the past and present; that is the only way to grow and move into the future.