The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Young Voters Can be The Change They Wish to See

2 min read

A couple of weeks ago, the Bullet ran an article about how conservatives are trying to cripple college students’ right to vote, as they believe students tend to baselessly vote liberal. This is in contrast to the efforts of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which has been unsuccessfully encouraging volunteers to promote voting among young people. A disconnect such as this is truly startling, and raises the question of whether we, as the young voter demographic, need to help ourselves when it comes to increasing our own voter turnout.

The idea of raising awareness about voting outside of the political spectrum is nothing new; in 2004, there was the Citizen Change campaign, more commonly known as Vote or Die, founded by P. Diddy and sponsored by other music artists including Mariah Carey and 50 Cent. Nevermind the fact that nobody associates burgeoning music artists with politics; the stated aim of encouraging 42 million young people to vote through scare tactics and selling t-shirts left the movement crippled before it could really gain any momentum.

More successful is the Rock the Vote campaign, which uses famous music artists and popular culture icons to educate young people about how important it is that their voices are heard in the political process. According to their website, they have successfully registered five million voters, and for 2012, plan to “reinvigorate our country’s democracy and redefine citizenship.”

It is good that there are sponsored movements such as these out there, but if the goal is to try to foster an appreciation towards the electoral process, it can’t be done through impersonal websites or celebrity endorsements; it needs to be done by us, the targeted demographic.

The Democrats have the right idea in recruiting volunteers to canvas their hometowns, but this method is proving to no longer be as effective as it once was. According to Fox Nation, the Obama campaign is having trouble getting the same kind of support from the eight million volunteers that helped him win the first time. Time will tell whether or not this will change closer to the election.

Either way, according to the Young Democrats website, by 2015 our generation will make up approximately one-third of the electorate. This means that we, Generation Y, will have more of a say in the political process than ever before, with the amount of influence only increasing as time goes on. Whatever method that gets us out of political ignorance and into the polls needs to be discovered soon, lest our voices be silenced by those who are afraid of what we think.