- Posted July 23, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Election 2012: Your stories
Why My Generation Doesn't Care (And How They Might Be Swayed)
Tomorrow evening I am meeting with local candidates who will be running for the Board of Supervisors position. I will be there to discuss the role of voters among younger generations, and I would like to hear the opinions of others, so I can offer a broad spectrum of ideas.
I wrote the above paragraph much earlier in the day, and didn't receive any comments from young voters voicing their opinions, so I literally went out into the streets and asked people what they thought. Here is what I found out:
For most of us, the issue is trust. When I voted in the '96 election, most of my peers were too busy being teenagers, fresh out of high school, moving on to college or just doing nothing at all, because they were finally able to. But in our early 20's things were a little different. We saw what it was like to live in the 'real world'. We had jobs, we paid our own bills, we made our own decisions, became more aware of the world around us, and how we could make a difference. We became enlightened. Then came the 2000 election, and everything we thought we knew - everything that had been taught to us about democracy from day one - turned out to be a lie. I found out today that it didn't matter whether you were on the side of Bush or Gore - the long, drawn out recounts, the hanging chads, the ultimate decision by a handful of judges - we all felt cheated because it was taken out of our hands. We became apathetic, shrugged our shoulders, and said, "What's the point?"
The second problem I found is that candidates try to appease everyone, taking the safe route, never committing to or describing specifics. But no matter what they say or do during a campaign, money always talks. We're the first generation that went to college and had to move back in with our parents. If hourly wages had increased along the same lines as executive pay over the last 20+ years, the average worker would be making over $10.00 an hour. We're broke, and our votes don't count. Why bother?
I can't tell you how the government can completely regain trust; with so much misinformation swirling around at the speed of light, I'm not sure it is possible. For every real journalist - someone with integrity that actually checks their facts - there are 10,000 morons with a blog. News personalities use their air time to give opinions, and it is passed off as fact. "If they're on TV or radio, then they must be telling the truth." Before, you had extremists on the fringes of the political spectrum, but now their ideas have been infused into mainstream thinking, and the public is confused.
So my best advice for candidates is to listen to your constituents, and stop playing it safe. When we see a politician out there flip-flopping, we automatically think that winning the election is all that matters to them. Pandering to both sides causes those coveted, undecided voters to throw their hands up in the air - and they're the ones that will ultimately decide the election. Try to connect with the younger generation by using the internet - because that is where they're hanging out - get a dialogue going, find out what they really want, and answer their questions honestly.
Finally, enough with big business and old money buying votes and favors. If you're not in it for the good of the people, then you shouldn't be a 'public servant'.