Will the Youth Vote come out this time? In this make-or-break election where every group has gotten its say — Older white women! African-Americans! People who cling to their guns! — the question of whether or not the kids will take their enthusiasm offline and to the polls has been wondered aloud by many (even the kids themselves). Today's reports seem to put that to rest — yes the kids are coming out (where they can — sheesh) — but, if I may, I coulda told you that.
Why? Because as a formerly politically-apathetic kid (it was student council or bust), I can remember what I did come out for: Things that were fun. Things that you don't want to miss. Yes, sure, it's good to come out for things that are important, but if that were the driving force then the youth vote would never be an option. This year, "important" is getting way more play (and I'm not even going to bother linking for this one, we all know it's true) — but for those who doubt that all the kids will come out, consider how that will add necessary critical mass to who comes out, and why.
First, this election is a happening. Long lines will be awesome. Think of it as political tailgating — I'm imagining college campuses with boom-boxes along the lines, texting and facebooking and photo-taking, maybe a little flirting — what socially-minded college kid would want to be anywhere else? Second, consider the effects of peer pressure. Would you want to be the kid in the dorm who didn't vote? (Here's a sample status update from a college kid on Facebook: "VOTE, 18-24, VOTE! Git in there. The future is determined by those who show up." No pressure there!)
Together, these two elements make for a perfect storm of youth GOTV — and add in the fact that this really is an important election and people really do care about it passionately — well, I've got faith in the kids. I should know, I've barely matured since that age.
But don't take my word for it, take it from someone who knows — 23-year old Luke Russert was just on MSNBC talking about how he thinks the kids will stay in the picture. Said Russert: "I have a lot of faith in the Millenial generation." I do, too. It wasn't that long ago.
(Here's one: My pal Kelli, ferociously determined Obama supporter, multi-state canvasser, sleeping-bag-on-floor volunteer, and also very youthy.)