The word idiot in Greek roughly translates to uneducated, ignorant citizen (i.e. non-voter).
In this day and age, there are many young people who want to be a part of the modern revolutions and movements that aim to change our political sphere. Unfortunately, when November 6th comes around, many young people are at a loss, as the majority of young Americans don’t vote. Or, if they do, they tend to only vote where their political socializations allow, not fully knowing and understanding what they stand for.
According to NPR, people between the ages of 18 and 35 make up 31% of the total voting pool.
We can’t let the majority of this 31% simply fall into the routine of voting where their political socializations lie — it’s easy to vote in ignorance, it’s radical to vote informed.
Believe it or not, 18-year-olds received their right to vote less than 50 years ago. With the establishment of the 26th amendment in 1971, 52% of youth between 18 and 21 partook in the election that made Richard Nixon the 37th United States President. The youngest adults were now incentivized to vote because they could.
But the pomp and circumstance of being able to vote so young ceased in the years that followed. Voter turnout in the 1996 presidential election reached an all-time low with only half of all eligible voters partaking. Turnout slowly increased and peaked in 2008 with the election of former president, Barack Obama. But CNN reports that the 2016 presidential election shows a 20-year all time low with only 24 million young people (18-30) turning up to vote, making up around 55% of the overall eligible voting population. Maybe one can attribute the recent decline to a lack of excitement regarding potential leaders and the societal concerns they express for the future.
Young voters have the power to shape elections (for example, there’s 49 million eligible young voters vs. 45 million elderly voters). However, only about a third of youth in the United States choose to vote and be politically active.
A recent study found that youth who had at least some college experience or education were twice as likely to vote as those who did not. This is important, as universities and colleges are ideal locations in which to encourage voting amongst young people and stimulate political interest. Events and entertainment can be used as incentives to get students to vote, because, quite frankly, what college students are going to refuse free food?
With the political climate as it is today, university organizations and classes can help students decode complex issues in order to boost understanding and interest. Often, when people do not understand something they quickly lose interest.
With all of the different media methods with which current political news is being distributed to the public, it is easy to find oneself lost in a maze of articles, left feeling helpless — and ultimately retreating back to the ingrained political socializations they’ve grown up knowing.
With proper educational resources and support, however, young people can much more easily understand worldly issues and delve into the political sphere. It is pivotal though, that their drive to vote goes beyond simply registering. Youth must ask themselves what country and government really means to them — which party do they find themselves identifying with after research? Which specific congressmen and women strike a chord?
If the majority of young people in this country voted informed, the political sphere could easily be changed to benefit young people and their needs — creating a system that actually understands our youth.
This election day, we encourage our readers to utilize our rights as Americans, and cast their ballot with an understanding of the fundamentals for their party and the people who represent it.
Odessa de Boer and Kena DeLong are California college students, trying not to be idiots this November.