political piece concerning teens involvement in politics
|Change is on the horizon in America. Grumblings about current President George Bush are legendary, and the time finally approaches when our nation will select a man, or woman, to take his place in 2008. Of course, all high school students of age are going to flock to the polls on Election Day and prove that we’re the new, well-developed, and politically savvy minds of our generation, right? Wrong. A Harvard University Institute of Politics study shows that only 32 percent of 18-24 year olds are planning to vote in the upcoming primary. So when it comes down to it, we can claim our political prowess or pretend we’re concerned with “the issues” all we want, but as far as numbers go, we’re not stacking up. No wonder we feel like our voices are going unheard, we’re not utilizing our means of doing so.
Some organizations recognize the need for young people to get out there and vote. One of these programs is Citizen’s Change, organized by Sean Combs during the 2004 presidential campaign. Its main goal is stated, “hip young people to the hustle of politics by educating them about the power of their vote.” Pop culture figures like Paris Hilton, Ludicrous, and 50 Cent rallied around Combs, wearing t-shirts with the catchy slogan “Vote or Die.” The problem? Although the campaign can be recognized as an “A” for effort, if you will, it was literally laughable. Programs like “South Park mocked the organization for its violent and decidedly lame approach. Even worse, Hilton and Ludicrous didn’t even vote. And why didn’t 50 vote? He’s a convicted felon! More credit can be given to Ben & Jerry’s for their latest concoction, ice cream with a little bit of political activism thrown in. During the Last election, the company set up voter registration booths at selective stores. Thirsty? 7-Up has a piece of the political pie as well.
It is true, however, that politicians have been gearing their campaign tactics more towards the younger population, in particular by getting their own Myspace or YouTube accounts. Where else, besides Myspace, could you find out that Obama is a Leo, or that Hillary Clinton has a guilty pleasure for chocolate? More importantly, perhaps, is information that can be found there like Ron Paul’s congressional record, or any candidates for that matter. YouTube is another online communication network where politicians and their supporters have been posting videos and debates, even footage from interviews. A recent feature is their “face the candidates” button, which allows users to go straight to any candidate’s web site and view a multitude of videos highlighting anything from their position on certain issues to risqué campaign songs made by their supporters. Evidence of the Internet’s influence on the upcoming election is the “YouTube” debates hosted by CNN. Here’s a summary. Regular everyday people record a question for a candidate and send it in to CNN to appear on a televised debate, a concept not short of groundbreaking.
More venues to get involved are available for young voters every day, its not like you have to read the “Washington Post” to get involved. The question is why aren’t we voting? Give adults a reason to take us seriously, and get out there and vote. “Vote or Die,” you heard the man.