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.
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.
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.
In 2008, we came out in record numbers and supported then-Senator Obama by a 2 to 1 margin. In 2012, we are just as enthusiastic about the President, and it's up to all of us to continue what we started four years ago.
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.
People say that my generation is the one who will really change the world and that we are the ones who are really going to make a difference. How are we going to change the world when we are just sitting and "liking" causes, but not getting off our computers and doing some actual work?
The stakes are too high to allow another presidential election to be stolen. Fortunately, Mitt Romney and his campaign are currently doing enough damage to their cause to allow one to be cautiously optimistic about the re-election of the president and retaining a majority in the Senate.
Looking back at the primary season, fueled with so much hyperbole, negativity and empty rhetoric all aimed to appease a red-meat-loving base, our nation missed a generational opportunity to force a real discussion early on about the issues most salient for the next generation.
The voting power of young adults certainly exists; the issue has now just become a question of action. As a person who is both a youth voter and a college student, the non-empirically based answer seems quite easy: convenience.