If younger generations do not wake up soon to the importance of voting, and that means starting now with this election, they will face a future that they will forever regret. They will realize, too late, that they could have done something. The climate change that did not get reined in soon enough as well as the failure to invest wisely in research, innovation, and education, have by then put today’s young people in a position of headaches and disappointments of a huge magnitude that could have been avoided.
For better or for worse, this is a Presidential election that will be remembered forever. The ultimate outcome will be either that our democracy survived and flourished or this will be the election wherein our democracy died. I say this not to scare you, but to put in proper perspective what we and future generations face.
Young people need to vote, but not just only for a Presidential race. There are down ballot races like the U.S. Senate and four Congressional races here in Kansas with national implications. The entire Kansas Legislature plus local county races, particularly county commissioners, also have severe implications for our future. Given the pandemic, we now know much better the importance of local leaders-just think about how county commissioners across the state have made decisions as they oversee their county health departments’ decisions on public health issues. Obviously, there is much at stake come November 3rd.
Historically, young people have turned out to vote at a lower rate than older generations (check out the stats shared by Loud Light). The participation rates between these age groups is not even close. Consequently, campaigns tend to put less emphasis on young voters’s concerns and focus on older generations who are much more likely to vote. The results consequently follow suit with older and more conservative views prevailing. Therefore, the issue is not just voting in this critical election. It is also about establishing that the votes of the younger generation can now make a real difference in who gets elected in the future.
I’ve said many times to my students in my classes at K-State that is is not rocket science to understand why the issues of my generation like social security, medicare, and low taxes get strong attention while issues like investing tax dollars in the future through research, infrastructure, and strong public education at all levels tend to be put off.
Unfortunately, elected officials show more interest in who votes than young people’s futuristic hopes and dreams. If more young people would vote, if that block could start influencing outcomes, policies would more likely change. Politicians agree for the most part on only one thing, and that is the importance of getting elected and re-elected. A young person’s vote counts much more if their peers are voting too. This should be an incentive to get involved and work to get friends and peers registered and voting.
To close on a more positive note, I have been teaching young people at K-State for now over 15 years and in that time I have seen growing interest in politics here in Kansas and nationally as well. When I ask my students if they are registered to vote, the percentage who say yes has grown considerably. I get similar responses as well as who say they have already voted and are committed to vote this November 3rd. There is hope, but we need more senior citizens who can accelerate that movement with some sage advice from our years of experience. IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHO GETS ELECTED.