The United States is the world's most famous democracy, yet we rank near the bottom of all nations in voter turnout. So why, when U.S. Census data says most Americans don't vote because it's inconvenient, do we vote on Tuesday smack in the middle of the week?
I am a 24-year-old teacher -- smack in the middle of America's "young generation" of 18-30-year-olds -- and I am troubled that half of my cohort -- my peers, my co-workers, my friends -- choose not to exercise their right to vote.
We have a choice. We can repeat history and see this generation as a list of names to solicit for donations and pad listervs or we can choose to seize this new base of people of invest in -- and engage with -- in building a proactive movement and progressive legislative agenda.
In the 2008 presidential election, roughly half of eligible voters from age 18 to 24 voted. An even smaller share of young voters is expected in 2012. I wanted to find out why. So I called more than 50 people under the age of 40 into a studio, and asked them.
These headlines fit well with the conventional storyline that young adults participated in large numbers in the "wave election" of 2008, but may not duplicate that effort in 2012. However, should we deduce from the Harvard poll that the youth vote will desert President Obama in 2012?
In the laundry list of popular stereotypes of young people, political apathy features prominently. It's the Me Generation. Generation Entitlement. Young people, we are told, care more about Lady Gaga's latest outfit than about the upcoming election.
Mitt Romney may be the last of his kind. No, I don't mean President Obama is turning America into a socialist state and rounding up the Romneys to strip them of their riches. What I do mean is that my generation is simply incapable producing another Romney.
College life exposes students to democracy in action. They are challenged by new thoughts and ideas and must learn to consider and respect multiple opinions and perspectives, both in the classroom and in other campus interactions with their peers.
The results of the Harvard Public Opinion Project's new poll reveal a democracy at risk. The 2012 election might bring the lowest youth voter turnout since 18-year-olds were allowed to vote in 1972. Our democracy is at risk and we must do something about it.
We need to get young people the information they need to register and then to vote. For many in this age group, they have moved from home to go to school in a new community where the rules may be unclear to them.
This might be the last year I'm a student at Boston University, but it's the first year that I (A) had a legal sip of beer and (B) had my face broadcast on over 750 college campuses. So bring it on, Mayans! I'm ready for the apocalypse of 2012.
The amount of information consumed by the Millennials pushes them to think in terms greater than party-lines. The young vote will be determined this year on the facts and the future plans, not on the charisma and character of the candidates.