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Hey! Young Person! Yeah you!

I am trying to get this to as many young people as possible, not to be a jerk but to make a point. Here’s the point. If you don’t vote you have no business complaining about the government.

In the last presidential election, just 49% of 18-24 year-olds voted. That’s pretty bad. This is your country. It’s your state. It’s your town. And actually, you DO have a say in your future. It’s pretty easy. It’s free. It works. Voting and getting others to vote like you is a really cheap and effective way to influence your world.

Figure out who you like and vote for them. Argue with your friends and your enemies about who to vote for. Decide what’s important and take a stand. If you don’t vote, I don’t want to hear one word from you about what’s wrong with your society. Don’t just be in the way. Don’t just make fun of the government. Do something about it.

Get registered. NOW. Figure it out and do it. “I ran out of time,” “I didn’t know,” “I thought……” those are lame, kid-type excuses. Grow up. Take responsibility for YOUR voice.

By the way, my generation (I’m 50) is pretty bad too. Our last voter turn out rate was just 67%, a third of us not voting. A lot of us older folks have not taken responsibility as we should and I’m sorry about that. Shameful actually.

But I AM YELLING to 18-24 year olds because this election matters more to you than to me. You have a lot to be angry about. Climate change. Economic opportunity. Social justice. Don’t just be politically angry, be politically active!

Forgive my bluntness but the time for bluntness has arrived. We ALL need to step up.
At least, at the very, very least: register, pick your candidates, and vote.

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4 thoughts on “Hey! Young Person! Yeah you!

  1. Hey saw your post via Twitter. If you want to help register students to vote, you can add a link to register online: http://www.studentvote.org/

    StudentVote.org is a nonpartisan effort to help register young people and get them to the polls on Election Day.

    Thanks for your post.

  2. Here’s a comment someone wrote to me:

    I have a strong reaction to your email. I am sick of people going to vote because it’s their duty and not deciding who to vote for until inside. If you really don’t care who wins, stay home and let the informed folks choose. Otherwise you just go with whoever has the loudest campaign. So what if only a small percentage vote? The people that care will be there. How many times have you heard,”if I knew they were going to do THAT, I’d never have voted from them!’

    And here’s my reply:

    Thank you for writing. You have such a good point.

    I love the idea of a “fully informed electorate,” that everyone who votes has actually educated themselves about the issues and the candidates. Indeed, this should be part-and-parcel with voting. If you vote, you should get informed. Choose your candidates thoughtfully and way before getting in the voting booth.

    Is voting a duty? I think of it as an opportunity. It’s an offer from your government to have a say. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want. There are other ways to have a say and make a difference. But if you are going to criticize the government then it’s best to have voted. I have little tolerance for the sideline critic; that is, the person who complains but who has not participated in the most basic way.

    Stephanie, above, read my Blog Post to imply that voting is the most important political act one can do. Sorry to mislead or cause misunderstanding. I’m trying to say the voting is the most basic political act, the very least thing one should do if one is going to critique political leaders.

  3. Stephanie,
    Thanks so much for writing. Of course you are right. Taking direct action is really important. It is another effective way to change the future.
    Do direct action, of course. But don’t forget about voting. Exercise your right. Stand on solid ground when you criticize the government. I believe that if more of us voted, things would be better.

  4. I appreciate the sentiment here, I really do. However, I take issue with statements like “If you don’t vote, then you can’t complain.” Largely because it infers that voting is the most important political act you can perform. So much time is spent debating over which person to vote for, despite countless elected officials disappointing us and breaking promises. Imagine if we took all that energy and time we spent talking about electoral politics, and put it towards creating real change in our communities! Towards taking direct action when we see a broken problem, rather than relying on somebody else to fix it for us.

    I will likely vote in November, but given the current state of electoral politics in this country, I’m not sure that it really matters. And I’m not under any illusion that our social and ecological problems will be solved if we elect the right person. I want everyone to take political action, too, but in the end I care much less about how they vote on a Tuesday in November, then with what they do with their time the other 364 days of the year.

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