In general, the youth in our country are alarmingly apathetic to politics. Sure, there have been moments of greater participation, such as the opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960's. But overall the younger generation has remained uninterested in the political process.
Even with social media and a "cool" President, youth voter participation has only increased slightly. To give you an idea, in 2012 people between the ages of 18 and 29 made up 19 percent of the vote, up only 1 percent from 2008, and up only 2 percent from 1996. Many would credit this rise to a President that relates better to this demographic, but we'd be remiss not to also acknowledge that political issues are now impacting our generation more than ever.
The unfortunate fact about our political process, especially as it relates to youth, is that there's very little interest and involvement beyond the election itself.
As a member of the millennial generation, I recognize the implications of today's policies on not only myself, but my kids and their kids' future. We'll be the generation primarily shouldering our country's record 16 trillion dollars in national debt. And, equally important, what policies are we putting in place today to ensure America's global competitiveness throughout the 21st century and beyond? After all, a lack of sustainable growth translates to a lack of opportunity and prosperity.
Isn't this all the more reason we should let our voices be heard once elections come to and end? While choosing our elected officials is important, it's how these individuals work to shape policy that truly makes a difference in our everyday lives. For the sake of the emerging generation, taking ownership of our future is critical. We should be at the core of the process.
I recently spoke to 92nd Street Y about this past election cycle and the importance of getting younger people more involved in the political process both before and after election day. Check out the interview here: