How to Get the Youth Out

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Turns out that a vast amount of the young electorate, once again, didn’t turn out to vote in the recent Super Tuesday primaries. A massive 70 percent of those youths who did turn out, however, cast their votes for Bernie Sanders, the only principled candidate in the running. Not surprisingly, 46 percent of supporters for Biden in Texas were over 65, and older voters in Texas came out in higher numbers at 24 percent this year compared to 13 percent in 2008. This happened throughout the South for Biden: numbers show that he won 48 percent of voters over 65 years old compared to Sanders’ 15 percent over all. Numbers like these are confusing yet normal at the same time, and I think one can suggest the following for low youth turnout. It’s odd to me that older folks would vote against Universal Healthcare even though a majority of voters, including themselves and younger generations, support it or are worried about healthcare, and that with voting for Biden you toss out much or any hope of getting better healthcare, or getting rid of big money through campaign finance reform, since he’s funded primarily by big donors, and his recent and long standing supporters aren’t worried about Biden attempting to cut their social security like he has in the past, or being led into a strategic blunder of a war like Biden supported, or having their kids arrested for possession of marijuana (even though it’s fully legal in eleven states, and legal medically in thirty-three) which Biden has always supported, and the list goes on for Biden’s sad record…and he’s only just began to be exposed for his past, not to mention his obvious cognitive decline that is now being called a “conspiracy”, even though it was first pointed out by Democrats and their favored media. The Biden supporters talking about how minuscule the youth turnout was on Tuesday aren’t sure why young people aren’t getting involved, and even though there surely isn’t a single lone reason for them not to have turned out, I can name a few that directly involve the older and more moderate electorate’s influence, perhaps involving their support for someone like Joe Biden. This isn’t to instigate further division or to enforce the lame and easily dismantled narrative of Bernie Bro meanness, this is necessary conflict that needs to be talked out and understood, and I think we can get through this.

——– First, when youngsters are actually paying attention in grade school, how much focus on the practicality and seriousness of voting is extolled? Secondly, how informed can we really be unless our education is fulfilling, our parents invite us to get involved, or certain other life experiences force some reality on us to reveal its importance and relevance? Are there other reasons that would hinder young people’s desires to get out and perform our ‘civic duty’? Let’s consider the ages of 18-29 years in a life-changing sense, which are some crazy years of learning, evolving, and experimenting with all things Life, and not to mention that our brains aren’t even completely evolved — the frontal lobe, for example — and more so, we add the current attention drain of everything from media to phones to social media, along with higher education classes and work and bills and family and eating and sleeping and debt and no healthcare, it seems that you have to get in the adult/adultish world for a couple years to fully understand (not just intellectually, like plenty of young people do quite well) that your taxes are going to fund subsidies for oil companies, bombs for wars we don’t want, bailouts for banks, massive corporate tax cuts, etc. Climate marches have been spreading across the globe, inspired and led by the youth in many cases because it’s probable that other than hearing the scientific research and witnessing visual destruction of our environment, they see that these protests are imperative to changing their future, as protests have always played a role in social change. But why doesn’t this passion and inspiration crossover into voting? Why would 40% of the U.S. population not vote? In regards to the youth, could it be that some are old enough to have seen the response to Occupy Wall Street? Did some listen to their parents call all the participants in the movement “lazy, freeloaders, commies, and dirty hippies,” and could that have been an influence in this apparent apathy? The movement was flawed, and yet they still had real and practical demands that were driven by worker and civil empowerment. It’s not much different from what you hear about the “Bernie Bros”, that they’re all commies and freeloaders that want something for nothing, right? Never mind the utter principled stances, practical and empowering policies, the diverse spectrum of women and men and POC, but never mind all that, it’s the “free” that people hear, right? Those who supported Bernie last time, again mostly youth, have been bashed for the last five years for having supported him and not Hillary, and now those who bashed/bash their passion want their support for another ‘moderate.’ This isn’t a logical way to go about it, and it’s not inclusive for the party that claims to be so. How does it look when the ‘liberal media’ relentlessly attacks and belittles Sanders and his supporters while those who watch these corporate news sources and who currently occupy the “progressive party” in the country follow suit, referring to the only candidate and movement advocating substantial change as ‘unrealistic, mean, annoying,’ or other demeaning rhetoric? Why don’t they love Joe Biden and fall in line to support him, like the Democratic Party has done, which has now rallied to save a once floundering Biden campaign? How does it look when you’re a young person whose elders are pointing to Donald Trump on one side, and Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg on the other, and calling them the good guys? With what evidence can that proposition stand, counter to all the evidence supporting the opposite, like I linked to earlier, and could link to endlessly? Young voters have access to this information and that’s one example fueling this desire for change. No, Trump, Bloomberg, and Biden aren’t the exact same, that’s not the point, the point is that they are not different enough. I can hear it now: “Purity tests! They want purity tests for candidates!” Imagine a bar set so low for representatives that people looking for principle and character in these representatives actually pisses people off. It’s difficult not to sound like a condescending jackass here, so please understand that I’m being consciously respectful, but these are the circumstances: Donald Trump and Joe Biden are not fighting the good fight, and they never were.

Should it be that young voters’ responsibility is to show up and point out that year after year generations before them tend to support candidates that keep them from joining all other large nations and getting Universal Healthcare and continuously choose to elect people that prevent real and lasting change from happening? I guess we could make that argument: that it’s the youths job to point this out. For instance, Obama had a movement behind him of massive youth supporters, and also carried the majority of minorities, with a well of older voters in the mix. One key difference of Obama’s campaign that is not overlooked now? He had the backing of corporate donors, a swath of them from JP Morgan & Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Google, and more. If you don’t think that this matters, like Bill Maher seems to think, maybe older voters are refusing to listen to the younger voters and alienating them, and perhaps the times are changing and that’s how life works, and maybe the older moderates could choose to listen more and understand the tides. It doesn’t mean that you have to like Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber now. Understand that the Obama and Clinton years aren’t looked back on with gleaming eyes to younger generations. You take the money of the wealthy because you agree to do their policy bidding, that’s how it works. Like the Romans understood, you provide small changes to keep people inoculated while nothing fundamentally changes to inhibit the upper status quo’s continuation. To argue that Obama changed Wall Street forever, as Maher alludes to in that upper video, is embarrassingly bad logic. I don’t feel bad saying this about Maher because his ego is far out of hand, nonetheless I know parts of this coming from a younger guy probably makes some of you want to spit in my cereal. Well, just don’t let your dentures fall in, you old goat. I’M KIDDING. Keeping you on your toes, is all. This isn’t an attack and it doesn’t apply or have any intention to discriminate against all people over a certain age, but it is definitely a discussion that seems necessary to be had.  

——– There’s a lot to digest here. I’m suggesting that young people don’t feel that they’re being listened to, much like their parents don’t seem to have their voices heard either in the workings of their community and government, which shows why 40 percent of people didn’t vote in 2016, as many feel that their elected representatives don’t write policies that represent working class people, so they are disenfranchised and most literally say “fuck it”. From the looks of it, as Democrats have aged, they have tended to get content and lean towards some centrism that is solely represented by big business and lobbyists, yet on social issues they are more liberal, and yet again, the majority of the public across the spectrum resonates with Sanders’ policies.

What are your thoughts on this, whoever you are? Whatever that answer may be, how about we (I’m dad age now) give the youth something to be inspired by, such as the only message that has worked so far in inspiring them, the message of the ‘Not Me, Us’ campaign, in many ways a continuation of past protest movements to make real changes to our current state of affairs, while at the same time not being even remotely “extreme” in the ways that it is continuously characterized, as the graph above indicates even from 2016.

It’s right here in front of all of us, something different than any of us have experienced in our lifetimes, being that we have an actual chance of attaining empowerment on multiple fronts; a movement that, at minimum, will pull a lever of social change and cohesion and yet still, from the top down, from our elders, from the mainstream media, from those lobbying for corporations and banks and big business, this message and movement “isn’t realistic.” It’s a fairy tale, right? Like the Civil Rights Movement or The Women’s Rights Movement, or when we established child labor laws, or teacher’s unions, or created fire departments, or social security, or the military, or the five-day, forty-hour-work-week with weekends, or NASA, or paved roads, or our schools. Socialist wet dreams. ‘Let’s just get things back to normal, when everything was totally fine and we weren’t kicking the can on down the way to an even riskier future.’ If the youth don’t think that they can have any empowerment in their work, or in their government, that they have to suffer debt from healthcare and school, and even their parents are fighting against them, why bother? Why are they suddenly comfortable with this ‘treasonous’ word “socialism,” a word many people don’t even attempt to understand in context? Could it be that, at the root of socialist ideals, there is an empowerment to workers and civil rights? Could it be that socialism came about as a necessary correction to unfettered capitalism? Be that as it may, Sanders still isn’t a socialist and even calling himself a Democratic Socialist is arguably wonky terminology in his case—he’s closer by relative definition to a moderate Social Democrat. Worker empowerment sustains, however, and not that any of us needs this pointed out, but worker ownership and worker empowerment are phrases rarely if ever invoked in our society, so why would those aiming for these goals turn out in droves for anyone or any reason other than for a message represented by Bernie Sanders? All other options are tired. The movement, a full spectrum movement, not just a single guy, is large and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere…but it hasn’t been enough. Can we imagine the reality if it wasn’t being trampled by those who actually agree with the majority of the policies? One can argue that it’s not simply a political sphere problem, it’s a human problem, and what policies are the most humane? Despite yours or my feelings towards government, it can be a vehicle of empowerment rather than abuse. This isn’t simply a desire for a “nanny state” resolution either. You either feel the benefits of your tax dollars, or you reach the point of saying to hell with taxes, or to hell with government and voting, as so many have. On that point, taking the power of the institution and using it to benefit people must be the goal, otherwise it turns against us, as one can argue that it has and we feel powerless to actually challenge it. Recall how the Democratic Party has all lined up behind Biden with the snap-of-a-finger, the media following directly in line, and imagine them actually having a message to younger voters that was worthy and empowering? They don’t, but imagine if they did. Imagine if we had something to offer. It’s easy if you try.

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