This archived article was written by: Rodrigo A. Leon
With the presidential race heating up, we are asking ourselves, who is going to be our next president? Will it be Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz or maybe someone else? We talk about who we like, who we don’t like, who we want and who we can’t stand. Yet we forget one key component of the presidential race, our vote.
The youth vote has always been lower than the other age groups but in the last decade we have seen the percentage of youth voters plummet to historical lows. In the 2012 presidential race, we had some of the highest youth voter turnout in a long time, yet we had only 45 percent of people 18-23 vote. We actually hover closer to 30 percent for presidential elections or 12 percent for primaries or midterm elections.
Why don’t we vote? Some say it is because we are lazy, but that makes no sense considering the high-paced world we live in. We volunteer more, are more likely to pursue higher education and consume less alcohol and drugs than the older generations. We don’t vote because we don’t think that our one vote makes a difference. We are more transient than most thus, how elementary schools are run doesn’t bother us and we hate the cynicism of the elections. You hear elections about how so and so is a terrible person. We don’t hear about what each individual wants to do for the nation and how they will accomplish that.
We are also becoming more pessimistic about the status of the world-political system. In France a study found that 22 percent of young adults said that the problems in the system could only be solved through revolutionary action as opposed to 7 percent in 1990. We stopped believing that these politicians can change anything and that the system is slowly becoming irreparable.
The youth vote is the largest and most powerful voting group based on size and we almost always vote together. With less than half of the youth vote, we elected Obama. Think of the radical shifts in the political system we could create if we gathered 70-80 percent. As the youth of the United States, we have a great power, but it is at our discretion on how to use it.