We’re trying to make sure my nephew gets out to vote on Nov. 2nd. He’s 22 and in the late stages of adolescence. Getting him to register to vote has had about the same success as getting him out of bed before noon on a Saturday, according to my brother.
I e-mailed him the registration and the absentee voter ballot registration, with threats of awful vengeance if he doesn’t fill them out and mail them in time. Troy, N.Y., is a long drive, but I’m willing to make that drive if that’s what it takes to drill civic sense into his intelligent, but thick, skull.
Mechanical engineering students must be particularly difficult students. They’re extremely well-focused – they must be in order to pass their courses – but it’s difficult to get their attention or to get them to answer you with multi-syllable words.
He didn’t vote in the presidential election because he disliked the Republican candidate. “He’s a white-haired old man,” The Nephew pronounced. “I’d rather not vote at all than vote for a candidate I don’t like.”
I couldn’t blame him. But I also couldn’t make him understand that if he didn’t use his vote to counter the votes of Liberal/Progressives, his right to vote would vanish one day in the near future. Use it or lose it.
In the 2008 presidential election, 56.8 percent of the voting age population turned out at the polls. A little more than half the country voted, which was a high for our modern times. In the 1996 midterms, only 37.1 percent of voters bothered to cast a vote. Goodness only knows how low the turnout was in the off-year elections.
The highest the voting rate has been in modern memory was the 1960 presidential election, when 63.1 percent of the population came out to vote. In 1996, only 49.1 percent of the voting age population put their heads into a voting booth, less than half the country.
The mid-terms have always been low, but pretty consistent in the mid-30s. In 1966, 48.4 percent turned out for the mid-terms, less than one percent fewer voters than in the 1996 presidential. Voter turnout has pretty much been downhill since 1960.
Young voters claim they don’t know anything about the candidates. But they know everything about Lady Gaga and Lindsay Lohan. They have all the latest electronic, digital technology. Instant information is at their fingertips. How hard could it be to google the candidates in your district and find out about them?
In The Nephew’s case, the link would be: http://garrett.house.gov/
(I just signed him up for the Congressman’s e-newsletter).
I’m too busy studying. The paperwork is too hard. I don’t know who the candidates are. I don’t know what the issues are. I don’t like politics. I don’t have any stamps. The post office is too far away.
The problem with this generation is their mothers spent their childhoods cutting their meat for them, doing their homework for them, driving them everywhere they wanted to go, taking care of everything for them (and now Obamacare has extended childhood to age 26).
I couldn’t wait to vote. I came of age in an off-year election, but I still voted. I didn’t care; voting for the first was as much of a milestone to me as getting my driver’s license. Being able to vote meant I was truly an adult. I got to make one of my first adult decisions in the voting booth.
This generation seems to mired in an eternal childhood, though. It’s almost like it’s not cool to vote, unless you’re voting for a Liberal. The Conservative kids, outnumbered by peers who are being bought off with grades by Liberal professors, hunker down, believing their vote doesn’t count.
My brother has the same attitude. Oh, he votes, but he figures it doesn’t matter. Too many potential voters have that same attitude and don’t bother to vote at all. That was what begat our local Tea Party. Someone had to prove to the doubtful that you could stand up to politicians and make a difference. As far as I was concerned, the reticent voters, not the politicians, were the target.
If The Nephew doesn’t get on the ball and fill out those forms, next weekend I’ll be tearing up the NYS Thruway to make sure he does fill out and send it in. If I have to, I’ll march up and down in front of his dorm with a sign with his name and picture on it. The caption will read: Voting Slacker.
Maybe I’ll even post it on his Facebook page.