By Luis ‘Luigi’ Finston
The time is coming for the next generation of students to head to the polls and vote for the presidential election of the United States. Who will be the next president? For months we have seen debates on television and watched the Republican and Democratic convention.
However, there is a difference between saying you are going to vote and getting up and actually going to the polls and voting. The younger generation has been a target for both candidates running for the presidential office.
Yet, with so debate, young voters still don’t feel compelled to vote. And many choose to vote independent. At the same time, they are future of the United States, the ones who will be most affected within the coming years. Talk about being stubborn.
The argument of votes not mattering in the long run, is not a reasonable excuse according to Dr. Neal Rosendorf. Rosendorf holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is an Associate Professor of International Relations at NMSU.
“Even if you have a lot of voters out there saying my vote doesn’t count and is meaningless, at the end of the day, in order to steer this ship of state, for domestic politics, for foreign policy; the public at large helps to drive the ship” Rosendorf said. “They elect the people who are at the captain’s wheel so to speak. They have a critical role to play.”
A New York Times article published by the Editorial Board in February covering young voters, described this presidential election as the first presidential campaign where “people aging 18 to 29 make up the same proportion of the electorate as do the baby boomers – about one – third.”
Professor Rosendorf added that Americans 65 and older tend to vote at rates of almost 75 percent. He stressed that if you could get a 25 percent turnout rate in presidential elections of young voters, you’re doing WELL.
“Even in off year elections, seniors still vote in high rates and young voters turn up in very low rates, and that’s in the local, state, and federal level.”
The only time that students drastically pay attention to a voting or political rally, is during a presidential campaign. It is rare when students pay attention to local, city, county, or even state elections. Whether this be due to news coverage or simply because it is not of importance is a question to be asked.
But when young voters don’t bother to take any part in the election process that in itself has repercussions.
“It sends a message to lawmakers of: “Don’t worry about me. I don’t matter. Prop up Social Security. Prop up Medicare. Don’t worry about support for Higher Education. Worry about the guys who vote” Rosendorf said.
“If young people don’t vote, then the people who do vote, will get all of the attention, the love, the programs, and the funding.” In other words, no vote, no voice, no action, no change, no satisfaction.
No one can deny that young voters have a voice. And power. Both Democratic and Republican parties realize this. They have tired in many ways and forms to reach younger audiences. Some of these strategies include blogging, social media, news releases, advertisements, and joint sponsorships and collaborations with companies and firms.
Young voters also have the responsibility to take action and see change that they feel is appropriate. It’s just a matter of taking initiative to register as a voter and then going to vote.
“There are remarkable privileges that come with a being a citizen of the United States” said Rosendorf.
“With that comes responsibility. Sort of like Spiderman “with great power comes great responsibility.”
When asked how he feels about the presidential candidates, who he supports, and how he engages students about the matter Rosendorf firmly believes in a non-partisan approach.
“It is my ethical responsibility as a professor to maintain a non-partisan position in the classroom and on campus” he said. “I am not one to tell students what to think or how to vote, but to teach them how to think and tell them to vote.”
The election thus far, as created quite a bit of tension between both parties. Commentators on television and in the media have questioned if either candidate is deemed worthy or “fit” to assume the role of the presidency. And the race for the White House has been nothing short of entertaining.
“I can say in a non-partisan way, that the election reminds me of the Chinese Curse that goes, “May you live in interesting times” Rosendorf said with a chuckle. “This is a very “interesting” election.”