What Today Means for Young Voters
As one of the younger contributors to this blog, let me take a moment to explain why Election Day is so important for many 20-something voters.
Imagine you’re 26 years old. Eight years ago, your first time casting a ballot, you enthusiastically vote for Al Gore. He is smart, technologically savvy and won't mess with Clinton’s legacy. Then the Florida recount unfolds, and the Supreme Court, in your view, hands the presidency to Bush in an outright display of partisanship.
Four years later, Howard Dean piques your interest. He speaks his mind and understands the potential of the Internet. You’re disappointed when he bows out, and you reluctantly support John Kerry. You don’t feel passionate about Kerry, but you figure anyone is better than Bush. The exit polls show Kerry ahead, but Bush ekes out another win.
You’ve voted twice. You feel the first election was outright stolen. In the second, you acknowledge Kerry was a middling candidate, but you wonder why anyone would support Bush.
2008 approaches. Your belief that four more years of Bush would prove disastrous has been validated. You’re angry about the direction the country is heading, but you’re wary about engaging in an electoral process that has given you nothing but heartache.
Then a freshman Senator from Illinois announces his candidacy. He’s different. Not ashamed of his intellect. Not afraid to inspire with his oratory. You read his autobiography -- it gives you chills. You vote in the primaries -- a first. When you have a few extra dollars, you send it his way.
Improbably, he upsets the frontrunner. As Election Day nears, he builds what seems like an insurmountable lead. You’re proud of your county for the first time in years. And you’re going to vote for Barack Obama, even if it means navigating lengthy lines and inclement weather.
For these voters, Election Day is about rewarding their passion for Obama and restoring their faith in the democratic process. I’ve had my doubts about Obama, and I’ve been critical of young voters who support him for his rhetoric instead of his stance on the issues. But it’s hard to deny their involvement has made Election Day that much more meaningful. And it’s hard not to root for their faith to be rewarded.
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