Some people await the
day with eagerness, watching and preparing for the moment when they
will finally get their chance. Others
let the day go by unnoticed, filling their lives with things which
seem more important at the time, or at the very least, more fun.
Still others feel a kind of dread, sort of like the day before
a big test in college, one that you KNOW you aren’t prepared for.
Everyone else—well, they are who I am writing to today.
The day I am
referring to is your first time…the day you lose your voting
virginity. This year,
there are over 13 million people who are eligible to vote in their
first presidential election. Sadly,
most of them won’t even register.
For those who will show up to the polls, it will be a hard
choice, because young voters are in a demographic that gets almost no
attention from politicians, and therefore no targeted information.
Not only are there 13
million eligible ‘virgins’ out there; this election also marks the
first time that all 46 million members of the infamous Generation X
are eligible to vote. Definitions
of ‘X’ vary, but the most commonly used guideline is that Gen-X
encompasses all those people born between 1961 and 1981.
Other definitions vary slightly, but by all standards, this is
the first time Generation X has a chance to vote as a true block.
Of course, being
Generation X, we will not even vote as a clique, let alone a block.
We can’t agree on pizza toppings (meat lovers’ or strictly
vegan?); why would we agree on taxes, health care, or abortion?
The disadvantage to being part of a diverse generation is that
you can’t agree on what to fight for.
When our parents were
our age, they had two major factions—those who wanted the Vietnam
War to end at any cost, and those who supported our troops there
(though they may not have supported our presence).
The two groups voted differently, but they were large enough
(these are the Baby Boomers we’re talking about) that they
received major attention from candidates and media alike.
If we had an issue of
our own, we might have that same political power.
Unfortunately, we are a pretty complacent bunch.
As a whole, we are either contentedly spoiled with no incentive
to change, or too stressed out paying the bills to worry about
‘issues’. There are
exceptions, as with any rule, but the exceptions are too few and far
between to be heard, and (surprise) they don’t agree with each other
If I sound like
I’ve given up on our generation, rest assured that I have not.
All we need is a little motivation, a little rocking of the
boat. Those of you who work, have you taken a look at your pay stub
lately? How big is the
chunk going toward Social Security?
Ridiculous, isn’t it?
What if I told you
that Al Gore supports Social Security in its current form, with the
only new source of revenue being your tax dollars?
That means that either you continue paying what you pay now and
get nothing back in the future, or you pay even more every month and
maybe get a little something to survive on later.
What if you could invest that money yourself, either in a
conservative mutual fund or in the high-return stock market?
Whatever you make is yours to keep, pass on to your children,
donate to charity, etc., but even if you lose it all, there is a
safety net; a minimum guaranteed entitlement to sustain you in your
later years. That
doesn’t have to be a fantasy; that is George W. Bush’s Social
A lot of us are
either newly married or seriously considering taking the plunge.
Even those of us who see marriage as a very distant possibility
would like to know that we will not be punished should we make that
choice. Al Gore opposed
the repeal of the marriage tax penalty; George Bush supported it.
That is the bottom line. As
hard as it is to find true love in this day and age, do you really
want an added obstacle on your way to the altar?
Many young people,
especially those who are of the X Generation, want to be seen as
progressive and open-minded. ‘Conservative’
has become something of a dirty word among twenty and thirty-somethings
who consider themselves ‘enlightened’.
Somehow, the word ‘Republican’ has been inextricably linked
to the word ‘conservative, likewise ‘Democrat’ to ‘liberal’
or ‘progressive’. The
irony of this presidential election is that the roles have been
reversed whether we admit it or not.
By definition, Al Gore is the conservative in this race. If you visit News
@ Voter.com, you will see that Al Gore supports the current policy
on everything from the death penalty to abortion to school choice.
Al Gore is the candidate of the status quo.
By contrast, the same
site will show you that George W. Bush is the candidate of change and
innovative ideas. He wants to take the policies that do not work, and instead
of throwing more of our money at them to shore them up for a
few more years (read: until re-election), he wants those programs
streamlined and renovated to spend less while accomplishing more for
I urge you all, Gen-X and Y alike, to find your cause and fight for it. Maybe we will never agree on some things (like which pizza to order), but there are surely those issues that affect us all. Talk to each other, do your research, and pull the lever on November 8th with the knowledge that, maybe for the first time, you are a part of something larger than yourself.
© Kirsten Andersen, 2000
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