Politicians are listening

M. Spencer Green, Associated Press

We aren’t making any friends in Washington.

Sure, we 20-somethings are voting in larger and larger numbers. The Associated Press reported Feb. 3 that youth turnout, which had been increasing since 2004, was again expected to rise again.

In fact, generation Y turnout in Florida, which didn’t even have several of the candidates on its ballot, equaled that of the 2004 main election. More than 2.6 million registered voters in California are under 30, constituting 16.5 percent of the voting populace there.

Such turnout is astounding, and confounding, experts.

“Political professionals haven’t liked dealing with them. They’d rather not deal with the wild card,” said Peter Levine, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Information ‘ Research on Civic Learning ‘ Engagement, also known as CIRCLE, to the AP Feb. 3. “But in a very close election, you need to play you wild cards.”

Indeed, that’s what the presidential candidates are doing. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both Democratic senators, joined in a satellite debate sponsored by MTV and AP. Obama tried to inspire the young audience by talking about his multicultural experience, which allows him to “see through the eyes of other people.”

Clinton also courted the youth vote, promising aggressive legislation to help students afford college.

Republicans as well joined in on the debate, with Rep. Ron Paul and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee fielding questions from the gen-Yers.

John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, told the AP Feb. 3 that the Democrats are doing more to garner the young voters.

But why the attention now?

Della Volpe pointed out in the AP article that many youth were simply waiting for someone to ask them. Beginning with the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, young people’s attitudes have shifted from apathetic to passionate.

It’s also due to the politicians engaging them, he said.

“They want to vote. They want to participate. They just want to be asked sometimes,” Volpe said.

And boy, are they ever.

Bill Clinton spent Super Duper Tuesday, when 24 states will hold their primaries, speaking to young voters at Santa Ana Community College in Orange County, Calif.

There, Clinton said that “Hillary believes America should work the way community colleges work.” According to a Feb. 5 AP article, he focused on convincing the young students that Hillary cares about and supports community colleges.

Politicians are finally paying attention to the 20-somethings, so we should pay attention to them. Call or e-mail your congressmen, both in the state and the federal government, to inform them about the issues that matter to you.

Do you think that marijuana should be legal? What about underage drinking? Let the politicians know. They’ll be listening.