- How Do The Youth Make Our Voices Heard? Social Upheaval? Revolution? The Answer is Simpler Than You Might Think
-How do we make ourselves heard? In our democratic system, why is it so hard to make change and feel properly represented?
For the youth, this is especially an issue, many feel unrepresented and feel like the old politicians do not care for their future.
The answer might seem a bit too obvious, but it is simply to participate! In a representative democracy, we don’t have direct power to vote on laws, we elect congressmen to do it for us. This sounds good and dandy, but it doesn’t work so well in practice. Congress currently has a lower approval rating than cancer, and aren’t we the ones supposed to control them? It is time to take matters into our own hands.
Comparatively to the rest of the world, America overall has a voting problem. However the age divide is quite startling, the elderly defy our poor overall numbers, as around 70 percent of 65–74 year old’s vote. The youth have always had depressed voting rates, only 48.5 percent of us voting in the 2008 election, and an abysmal 22 percent of us voting in the 2012 midterm election. How can we feel represented if barely half of us vote in the primary, and even less in the midterms? While we ignore the elections, the elderly are some of the most avid voters. They are often conservative in their politics, which is at contrast with the majority of the youth.
Political orientations aside, people elected for and by the elderly aren’t as likely to support the youth on issues. They would rather spend their time on the constituents who voted for them. This feeds into a cycle, the youths decision not to vote leading to election of officials who are unpopular with the youth. Then new youth voters look at the government and are dissuaded from voting, because they don’t feel that they can make a difference.
There are however, legitimate problems that deter voting and make it feel as if one cannot make a difference. Gerrymandering of congressional districts often makes many congressional races noncompetitive. State legislatures draw congressional districts in most states, favoring the party in power. This mean that people from the minority party in the area have little change of change. The electoral college is also a system that deters voters, as everyone has heard someone say, “why should vote I vote, it doesn’t even count?”
These are issues that have plagued the nation for a while, but they can be solved. California voted to take the power to draw districts out of the state legislature’s hands, and into an independent redistricting commission. The electoral college doesn’t seem like it will change unfortunately. Yet with large amounts of impassioned voters can flip states that seemed previously solidly leaning toward one party.
The system was only changed because enough people voted for politicians who said they would change it! If enough of us young people came out, nobody could stop us. America already has a voting problem overall, but isn’t used to even having half of us young people vote. Imagine what we could do if we came out in numbers, nothing could stop us.