Thursday, October 09, 2008

Why My Generation Doesn't Vote

The leadership team at the Loft had a meeting with a polling expert from our church. We’d done a fairly extensive poll to try to get a rough picture of what our church was doing right and wrong, and he was interpreting the results for us. We were talking about the incorporation of young adults into the church and trying to get them to sign up and become official members. It was at that point he said something really interesting:

He said that young people today – people in their mid-twenties – generally refuse to incorporate in any aspect, which is why Obama will likely have some sort of trouble on election day. The people that are his strongest supporters are also the least likely to show up and vote for him.

I imagine he’s right. I am in no way a typical anything, but I comprehend exactly the difficulties Obama faces. The problem is not passion, but rather diligence. Twenty-somethings will expound passionately on the reasons Obama is a better candidate, or the problem with government today being greed/warmongering/stupidity/etc, or Bush’s general evilness, but find actually registering and going to vote a chore they need not take part in. Registering makes you part of the system. It makes you part of the problem.

Ultimately, we’ve become a generation that believes it’s more important what you think than what you do.

Whether Obama wins or loses, part of the election day coverage will focus on Obama’s turnout being weaker than expected. No one will focused on the general disenfranchisement of the younger voting set. Instead, Fox News will call it “people waking up and realizing that they just can’t vote for a feeble, ill-equipped candidate like Obama,” a strategy Bill O’Reilly will refer to as “common sense.” CNN will call it “closet racism rearing its head,” and do specials on it for a week. MSNBC will call it “out-and-out racism,” and then find a way to mention Bush’s name in the same sentence.

The first “are young people going to go the polls or not?” article should be appearing in your local paper/subscription to Newsweek in about two weeks.

Thanks, Taylor.

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At October 09, 2008 11:53 PM, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Interesting. I wonder if that is related to the more spontaneous "swarming" behavior of networked people, especially the young.

When I vote, I am conscious of participating in an American continuity, analogous to the Christian continuity of the Lord's Supper or the social continuities of weddings and funerals. I am aware that my ancestors would approve. I am sure that impression is stronger in me than in even most of the people in my own generation, but I think there is something of it that is more common in those born earlier.

It is interesting that the communion-focused churches are losing membership most rapidly.

I wonder if that means we will move inexorably to online or other less-ritualised voting?

At October 10, 2008 12:32 AM, Blogger Wyman said...

Am I excited for the day I can vote by text message? Yes I am!

At October 11, 2008 4:14 PM, Blogger GeorgeH said...

It's not your generation, it's your age.

I can remember
"Clean, clean'
Clean for Gene"

in '68.

The youth vote was going to overwhelm LBJ and Nixon and make a groovy peace loving commune of Amerika. Only they never showed up at the polls.

This is the eleventh presidential election in which I have heard the nonsense that the youth vote was finally going to show up and make a difference.

There are too many distractions in their lives and too few responsibilities. If you don't have kids and a mortgage, voting just doesn't matter enough to bother.


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